Apartheid, Robben Island, and Healing: A Fireside Chat with Lionel Davis - Context Travel

Apartheid, Robben Island, and Healing: A Fireside Chat with Lionel Davis


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Cape Town is a bustling city whose economic achievement and growth exemplifies the strong character of a new South Africa. Yet the city still sits on the scars of former, darker years, during the period of Apartheid. Visual reminders of the brutal years still remain in various locations around the city and in the memories of those who lived through these times.

In this conversation, we are joined by Lionel Davis, a local Cape Town artist, and ex-Robben Island prisoner to hear his interesting life story. Lionel will begin by talking about his experience growing up and living in District Six, a once vibrant neighborhood primarily home to mixed-race South Africans. He'll talk about the changing character of the area with the approach of Apartheid, the increased police presence, and his experience of prejudice as a black person. He'll move on to discussing his fight back against discriminatory practices at work and in society that saw him beginning a political journey.

In his early 20s, he joined an organization known as the African People's Democratic Union of South Africa. Frustrated at the group's inaction, he later joined the more radical National Liberation Front, in order to take up arms against the apartheid government. This political path ultimately landed in his arrest for "conspiracy to commit acts of sabotage" and eventual imprisonment on Robben Island, where he spent the next seven years. He'll share stories about his time at this maximum-security prison, from meeting Nelson Mandela to prisoners' thirst and pursuit for education while incarcerated. He'll finish by discussing his connection with visual art and the power this has had in his healing (and the healing of others). He has been very involved in local art communities and organizations in South Africa and graduated with a Masters in Art in 1992, aged 58.

This is a unique and deeply personal conversation with Lionel Davis. It should give any participant an eye-opening insight into the life of a remarkable man who continues his effort to erase apartheid's legacy today while guaranteeing that the abuses of South Africa's past are never forgotten.

Context Travel will be donating all proceeds from this event to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Lionel Davis is a visual artist, teacher, and public speaker from South Africa. Born in South Africa in 1936, he grew up in Cape Town's infamous District Six neighborhood. He was a prominent figure in the anti-apartheid movement and was incarcerated for seven years on Robben Island, a prison for political prisoners under the apartheid regime. It was here that Davis met Nelson Mandela. It was during his prison years on Robben Island that he completed his Senior Certificate and in the 1980s worked toward a Diploma in Fine Arts. He completed a BA in Fine Arts in 1994. Today, he lives on Robben Island with his family as an employee of the Robben Island Museum. His work includes developing educational materials on prisoners and political imprisonment on the Island.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
75%
(3)
25%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
C
C.
K
K.
L
L.
J
J.