Although I had been looking forward to my pilgrimage to Robben Island, I need to admit that I had some apprehensions about the disturbing feelings it could trigger. However, as a former prisoner, who spent 8 years in this once villainous place, you turned it into a highly meaningful, didactic, inspiring and almost mystic experience.
Your vivid and trustworthy account of the harsh and cruel conditions under which liberators of the nation, labeled as “terrorists”, were detained left no space for boredom. On the contrary, it helped us better understand Nelson Mandela’s long road to freedom !
Your admiration for Madiba could be felt when, in passionate and powerful tone, you explained his relentless struggle for justice and freedom be it from his 2×3 Mt cell, on the infamous limestone quarries or in the prison courtyard .
You are right to be proud of your participation in Nelson Mandela’s hunger strike to claim better conditions for detainees such as basic amenities -beds ! We were shocked to see how inmates, including the leader of the ANC, had to sleep on the floor for long years with 2 or 3 blankets.
Despite having been fed on a diet of discrimination, cruelty, dehumanization and utter disrespect for 8 long years from the young age of 17, you still stand strong, bringing your invaluable contribution to position Robben Island as a lesson for reconciliation rather than a museum of division and detestation.
Now living next to former prison officers on the former Island of torture, ex-inmates like you stand out as beacon lights of hope for humanity.
Keep on inspiring us Sparks.
All the best.