In This Review

Robben Island: Ten Years as a Political Prisoner in South Africa's Most Notorious Penitentiary
Robben Island: Ten Years as a Political Prisoner in South Africa's Most Notorious Penitentiary
By Indres Naidoo as told to Albie Sachs
Vintage/Random House, 1983, 278 pp

Since the whole country of South Africa is in a sense a prison for its blacks, the horrors of Robben Island must go far to outdo the reader's expectations; the wretched physical conditions and the enthusiasm of the prison wardens for inflicting pain soon numb our sensibilities. What is most interesting in this tale (told by an Indian member of the African National Congress to an exiled South African lawyer and ANC member) is the way in which the political prisoners, through a series of hunger and sit-down strikes, gradually impress their humanity upon their jailers; significantly, they find that these actions, together with external international pressures, produce a discernible improvement in prison conditions.