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Single candle lit in Mandela’s prison cell

Published on 09/12/2013

A single candle has been lit in Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island, where he spent the harshest of his 27 years in apartheid jails.

The island is now a museum and major tourist site with visitors able to see the eight by seven feet (2.5 by 2.1 metre) cell where Mandela spent 18 years.

The candle was lit after Mandela’s death on Thursday and will be removed after his burial on Sunday.

“It symbolises the triumph of the human spirit,” museum director Sibongiseni Mkhize told AFP.

“On Robben Island, the conditions were very harsh but he and the other political prisoners triumphed over adversity.”

Staff at the museum, who include former political prisoners turned tour guides, have felt his loss heavily, Mkhize said.

“Everyone is very sad because most of my colleagues had personal relationships or connections with him, because from time to time he used to visit Robben Island when he still had the energy to do so.”

Flowers could be laid at the ferry departure point for Robben Island in Cape Town as well as in the courtyard where prisoners once broke stones, and condolence books were also available.

The museum will hold a memorial for Mandela on Tuesday morning.