Visiting Robben Island

Kelly Shorthouse

16 Jul 2016


Mandela • OKA

This year Wales Millennium Centre is co-producing Mandela Trilogy - a musical tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela - with Cape Town Opera.  

On their trip to Cape Town in 2013, Only Kids Aloud visited Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years. 

We caught up with Kelly Shorthouse from the choir to find out a little more about the visit and what she's learnt about Mandela.

Tell us a little about the trip to Robben Island. What did you see there?

My trip to Robben Island started off on the boat. It was an exciting ferry trip, which took about half hour. 

On the island we saw some old buildings and prison cells. We walked around the cells and were told interesting stories about the inmates there. What made it even more interesting, was the man who showed us around was once an inmate, so we heard first hand about what it was like. We saw Nelson Mandela's cell and it was incredible to hear what he went through, but also horrific because of the way he would have been treated. 

How did you feel visiting Robben Island?

I felt sad that Nelson Mandela was in prison for so long away from his family as he seemed such a nice man.

Did you know much about Mandela before the trip? What more did you learn about him on the visit to the prison?

I didn't really know much about him before my trip, so I had lots to learn! I found out what it was like for him when he was in prison, the conditions he lived in, how he forgave his captors and went on to unite his country. I also learnt that he became President of South Africa when he came out of prison, that he was the first black president, and also that he died in 2013 at the age of 95. 

How did the visit impact you? Have any thoughts and feelings remained with you today?

I think that Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to us all. It made me sad to think that such a humble man  spent so long in prison. I can't believe that he was in prison for 27 years altogether, and only released in 1990!

Wales Millennium Centre is co-producing Mandela Trilogy, a show about Mandela’s life, with Cape Town Opera. Having visited Robben Island, and knowing what you know about Mandela, what do you think to the idea of a show about his life story?

I think a show about his life story would be a really good idea.  I think people would find it very interesting to learn more about him. 


Mandela Trilogy opens at Wales Millennium Centre on 24 August, before touring the UK and Ireland.



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