The island loomed stark and chill. As the boat neared the jetty, she noted the glutinous kelp which bunched so densely, the sludge-green waves struggled to lap the beach. There were no seabirds on this godforsaken shore.
She walked past razor wire fencing.
A man approached. ‘I am Ntoza.’
He led her into a grey building. ‘I was an inmate here for many years.’
‘Did you know him?’ she asked.
‘Yes. I did hard labour with him at the lime quarry.’
‘What was he like?’
‘Always positive. Always dignified.’
Ntoza showed her a tiny cell. A small table, a red slops bucket with a lid. No bed; just blankets on the concrete floor.
‘Doesn’t it feel terrible to show people this place, Ntoza? To always be reminded of what you endured?’
‘We held a reunion here in 1995. We agreed that we should be its custodians.’ Ntoza spoke softly. ‘This was our university. This was where we fought for democracy. It is a good way to preserve the dignity of that fight.’
‘He came to your reunion?’
‘Of course.’ Ntoza smiled at her. ‘Madiba was our mentor. He led by example. On the hardest days his courage, his humility, his belief in the dignity of all men shone like a silver beacon.’
‘You’ll never forget,’ she said.
‘I never want to forget,’ said Ntoza.
About the Author
Susan Eames left England over twenty years ago to explore the world and dive its oceans. She has had travel articles and short fiction published on three continents.