On Robben Island, political and general prisoners were kept well apart. The only place where we could talk and share information with other inmates was in the prison hospital – and that thereby became more than just an infirmary. The hospital I have sketched here served as a vital link between us and the rest of the world. Through the hospital, news about our families, our friends, the struggle and everyday event outside the prison would trickle through. It became one of our most important life lines to the outside world.
On arrival at the prison, all new prisoners were sent to the hospital for medical observation. On arrival one of the political detainees would feign illness and thereby gain access to the same space in the hospital where they would share their news with us.
As time passed, the news became less depressing as we realised that the apartheid regime was weakening, that the voice of our struggle was being heard in the outside world and that a great wave of support was growing for all the people of South Africa.
Today I remember the stark hospital wards with fondness…These memories, like this sketch are filled with joyous colours.