African Lives Series

Robben Island Rainbow Dreams

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Following the birth of democracy in South Africa in 1994, Robben Island, once a symbol of pain, injustice, and closed spaces, became a famous world heritage site and a global symbol of a noble commitment to democracy, tolerance, and human dignity. In the words of Nelson Mandela at the official opening of the Robben Island Museum in 1997, it would forever be a reminder that 'today's unity is a triumph over yesterday's division and conflict'. In the years that followed, however, division and conflict marred the high hopes for this cherished 475-hectare location, leaving a bewildered public at the mercy of disinformation and challenging the dream of creativity, inclusivity, hope and a re-imagined future. Robben Island Rainbow Dreams offers the first intimate, behind-the-scenes account of the ongoing saga of the making of democratic South Africa's first national heritage institution. In doing so, it draws on the perspectives of historians, architects, visiting artists, ex political prisoners, residents of the island and a host of heritage professionals, including perspectives on Mandelarisation and commemorating Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe.

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