Robben Island Sports Records Go Digital
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport is promoting sporting heritage by making it accessible to the public on the internet. The Digitisation of Robben Island’s Sporting Legacy Project was officially launched at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on Thursday, 20 September 2012.
The project is a joint effort between the department, UWC’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Sport Science and Development (ICESSD) and the Robben Island Mayibuye Centre.
The project, which is funded by Western Cape Government, has enabled the sports records of the Robben Island prison to be “digitised” – rendered into an electronic format. The digitisation has made it possible to promote an important aspect of South Africa’s sporting heritage by making it accessible over the internet. The majority of citizens have not had access to this heritage in the past. Now they, and anyone with an interest anywhere in the world, can easily access these records.
The Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, said that the Robben Island sports records reveal that sport was successful, even in that potentially hostile environment, because it was taken seriously. This can be seen in the following: 1) it was organised around structures such as clubs, federations and leagues; 2) each of these structures had a constitution which defined the purpose of the institution, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the various office bearers; 3) an effective administrative system was put in place; 4) record-keeping was meticulous (as can be seen, for example, in the minutes of meetings) and 5) leaders were held accountable.
Minister Meyer said: “The Digitisation of Robben Island’s Sporting Legacy Project reconfirms that sport builds character, leadership, strengthens values and creates social inclusion.”
According to Professor Marion Keim of ICESSD, “the role that sport played on the Island is a reflection of our common heritage; it shows that there is more that unites us than divides us and shows us that sport can bring out the best in us in a powerful way to overcome hardship by believing in what is right, what is good, what is structured, what is true and what is fair. Today it can be an example for our youth, for young students, for leaders of tomorrow.”
Robben Island Mayibuye Archives curator Ms Mariki Victor said that it had been a privilege to collaborate with ICESSD and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport on this project. She expressed her appreciation not only for the current generation, but on behalf of future generations that will benefit from the project.
Adv Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director of Sport at the department, believes that the digitisation of the Robben Island sporting records will show the world the positive socially inclusive role sport played on the Island and will enhance research opportunities in the field.