Friday, 21 November 2008

Back on the Island

What a beautiful place, Robben Island is. It is just so sad that it has such a shameful past. Even before it was used to incarcerate political prisoners in the 20th century, it was a leper colony & a political prison in the 19th century.

And although it is barren (due more to those well publicised rabbits than anything else), it is an absolute priveledge to spend the night here. this place has filled my mind with contradictions.... david & i are staying in the guest house, the former colonial home of the commander of the island. so, beautiful yet it makes you want to spit on the floor. i can indulge in the beauty of the stately home, with all of its ornamentations and wonderful surroundings, but i can never forget that this man who lived here before us, was charged with a wicked wicked job.

for the first time in our trip, we can walk around at night. for the first time in our trip, there are no walls that divide the road from the homes. for the first time in our trip, there is quiet.

we met the actors for the first time yesterday morning - we will be working with three or four of them over the weekend. today has been a bit of a dashed hope day as the boats are experiencing mechanical problems and have severely delayed the actors arriving. we were suppose to start at 8.30am. it is now 11.07am. but, another first, i feel relaxed and not too bothered about it. because there is nothing that i can do about. i am on an island.

but, of course, there are all of the 21st century amenities that distract me from this beauty. internet, printers, photocopiers and the like are horrible distractions whilst i should be walking along the beach or soaking up the silence rather than hearing the tapping of the keyboard. if we find out when the actors will be arriving, then i can get away for a while. but as for now, we are in a bit of a holding pattern until we know when they will arrive. ah, africa......

i just cant get over the beauty of this place. i have taken a lot of photos which i will post as soon as i can. it is facinating as it seems caught in a time warp. after the leper colony and before the 20th century political prison, it served as a base for the South African army during the Second World War, so all around you have military homes, halls, clubhouses, postoffices built in that world-wide dull brown colour that represents military housing. in addition, there are dilapidated tennis courts and a swimming pool that still has a sign warning people to swim at their own risk even though it looks as though it hasnt been swum in in quite some time. maybe it is a warning for the birds & rabbits who now lounge around the pool sipping pina colatas.....

It is a guilty love of this beautiful place that i feel. it is like a microcosom of how i feel when i tour africa. it is a beautiful place full of possiblities and adventures - if you are white & well off. not sure if the same can be said for the most of the inhabitants of this country or for that matter, this continent. i feel very prividged to have this and so many opportunities to work and live and love africa, but it is not something that fully sits comfortably with me, it never has and may never will. i have the luxury of flitting between worlds in africa - like walking from the prison to the colonial guest house here on robben island.... i am 'allowed' to do that and there are few people who have been on this island in the past that could have had that opportunity to float between those two desparetly different worlds so close together one can walk between.