Political prisoners’ stories documented

Kgethi Images has been commissioned to conduct and produce life histories from oral interviews with 100 ex political prisoners (EPP) of Robben Island from the 1960s who originate from the Chris Hani District Municipality areas, Kgethi Images multi media production director and founder Lekgetho Makola said.

“In instances where an individual EPP has passed on, interviews are conducted with their immediate family members on their memories of the individual EPP. The project will last for five months ending in May 2019.”

This activity  is part of a national project of the Robben Island museum in collecting and preserving the stories of Robben Island political prisoners for our heritage and prosperity.”

Cinematographer Jonga Dedezane said he and seven of his team had been given a list of people with whom to document interviews.

“We have documented more than 25 ex prisoners so far. We have been to places like Ezibeleni, Ilinge, Cala, Cofimvaba and Cacadu and it has been great the way people have been willing to share their stories with us.”

Another team member, Thasky Fatyi, said, “The interviews have been exciting, touching and painful at the same time. Some of the things the former prisoners said were quite shocking and traumatising.”

This, he said, made the prisoners enjoy travelling this journey.

“We came to revive the notion of unsung heroes who need to be remembered, known and archived so that the upcoming generations and their families should know that their forefathers were a part of those who fought in the struggle.”

Fatyi said the Robben Island stories which are told repetitively were based on who was in the political forefront.

“There are a number of people who spent many years on Robben Island like Mpolose Mangqangwana who spent 20 years in the prison but you will not find people like him in the history books of our country, which is quite unfair.”

EPP Lennox Mhuthuzeli Gudlundlu from Madeira Park who was part of the Poqo (PAC) underground movement said, “I spent eight years on Robben Island after I was charged with an alleged sabotage in 1962.

“I am happy about this Robben Island initiative because these historical stories are not known in communities and society. Pivotal events often die before we are able to capture and archive them. This is why I was willing to share the journey I experienced during the struggle while fighting for freedom. Most people did not take our struggle seriously at that time. They did not foresee the democratic South Africa it would bring about.’’

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