A few weeks ago, I visited Cape Town, South Africa. It’s a famously beautiful city, right on the ocean – but that’s not what I took away from this trip.
The boat ride from Cape Town to Robben Island is just five miles, and takes only 30 minutes. But to the prisoners held there, starting in the 17th century, it might as well be on the dark side of the moon. Only a handful ever tried to escape, and none made it – most notably Makana, a famed 19th century Xhosa leader, who drowned halfway to freedom.