Past Event

A Performance and Conversation with the Robben Island Singers

Join us for an inspiring afternoon performance of songs and stories by the Robben Island Singers. Timothy Nxumalo, Thembinkosi Sithole and Phumlani Grant Shez were incarcerated with Nelson Mandela in the notorious Robben Island Prison in South Africa. From life in the townships, to torture and imprisonment, to the music that fed their spirits and carries them forward in a new South Africa, The Robben Island Singer s open a window into the lives of ordinary soldiers and citizens struggling to form a new government and just society in their country.

The three ex-political prisoners from South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid will engage audiences in their incredible journey. Their message — courage to stand up for what you believe in; personal sacrifice in pursuit of a better future; and the need to teach forgiveness in order to heal and transform society.

Thembinkosi Sithole

Sithole was incarcerated on Robben Island for nine years. He worked as a tour guide on Robben Island, but now is unemployed. He is living with his family and teenage children in a township near Durban.

Muntu Nxumalo

Nxumalo, who spent 13 years imprisoned on Robben Island, lives in an upscale suburb of Durban formerly reserved for whites only. He is married and has two school age children. He is a partner in a consulting company that builds roads in rural areas and employs the poorest villagers in the process.

Grant Shezi

Shezi spent 10 years in Robben Island prison. He now lives on Robben Island in a cottage formerly occupied by his jailer. He works as a cameraman, locating, interviewing and filming former prisoners who talk about their experiences for the Heritage Department of Robben Island Museum. Grant is struggling to support his children as he attends college and pursues a bachelor’s degree in heritage studies.

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This is event is co-sponsored by the JaneAddamsHull-HouseMuseum, Department of Performing Arts at UIC, Gallery 400, Department of African-American Studies at UIC, International Studies at UIC, and The Public Squareat the IllinoisHumanities Council.