From Nelson Mandela’s cell

Edward, our travelling Church Treasurer writes from Cape Town

These two weeks I’m working in my firm’s office in Johannesburg, as I did last year in September, and have been on a short weekend visit to Cape Town.  It’s a city that I’ve long wanted to see and have been pleasantly surprised how much more relaxed it is compared to Jo’Burg.  A much more European feel and a temperate / Atlantic influenced climate.

NM Cell 1

Nelson Mandela’s cell

One of the highlights was a visit to Robben Island to see the former high security prison that incarcerated political prisoners over many years and to hear the stories from the tour guide, who had been an inmate at the prison.  Here is a picture of the cell occupied by prisoner 46664, Nelson Mandela, during his sentence from 1964.  Unbelievably small, the cell has very rudimentary facilities and in 1964 prisoners slept on the floor.  Outside his cell was the walled space where prisoners were set to work either breaking rocks or sewing.  Further away on the Island is the limestone quarry where prisoner’s health and eye sight was damaged over long years of hard labour quarrying rock with hand tools.  The Island is maintained as a monument to peace and reconciliation.

As it’s Spring here in South Africa the new flowers of the season are starting to emerge and open.  One of those plants in flower at the moment, growing like weeds all over the Island, and also the surrounding areas of Cape Town, are white lilies.  It’s remarkable to see such beautiful flowers growing without any intervention.

SA FlowersOn Sunday morning I went to Mass at St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, right next door to the hotel where I’m staying.  It was a very familiar experience using almost the same liturgy as St Chrysostom’s, familiar hymns, 3 concelebrating priests at the altar, incense, a mixed altar party procession and a great welcome.  As it was one of the Cathedral’s patronal festival days, the last hymn was one of my favourites In our day of thanksgiving. 

Later on Sunday we had a tour of the peninsula just south of Cape Town around Camp’s Bay, Hout Bay and Llandudno.  Presumably named after the town in North Wales, Llandudno has a remarkably similar atmosphere of retired gentlefolk living in a smart seaside resort.  Maybe somewhere to come back to visit for a week at Christmas time, to avoid the Manchester winter.

All too quickly the weekend came to an end however and I’m flying back to Jo’Burg to get back to the office for Monday morning.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community where people of differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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