This exhibition portrays aspects of Robert Sobukwe’s life and his years of isolation on the Island. It also depicts the roots of Pan Africanism and his abiding interest in it.
Sobukwe, a freedom fighter and university professor, resigned from his position to lead a non-violent march in Sharpeville, in the former Transvaal on February 28, 1960 to protest the discriminatory "Pass laws." Under the Apartheid regime these laws required all black citizens to carry a passbook and this severely restricted their movements in the country.
For three years, Sobukwe was "banished" to a remote farm. From 1963 to 1969 Robert Sobukwe was detained on the Island under the Sobukwe Clause which was especially written into the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950 as amended by the General Law Amendment Act of 1963.
The Sobukwe Clause empowered the Courts of South Africa to renew a prisoner's period of confinement on an annual basis. The court invoked this clause three times until 1969. At that time we was able to return home, but lived under house arrest for several more years until his death in 1977.
...How is the climate? Look after yourself darling. You must try to have fruits or dried ones daily and some exercises not strenuous ones though. I am going to send you a pair of shoes so that you can repair that pair you are using. Now that I think it must be very cold now. I shall send another jacket and some handkerchiefs...
--from a letter to Robert from Veronica Sobukwe
Sobukwe lived in solitary confinement for six years on the island. While his family wrote many letters, his children were only permitted to visit him once - in 1967 - two years into his detention.
Although he was isolated from other prisoners, he managed to communicate through hand signals and gestures while exercising outdoors near the fences separating the complex from the rest of the prison.
*Robben Island Museum
*Robben Island Museum,Cultural Landsapes, Chapter 3.
*African Media Online