Tag Archives: Robben Island

SA:’Race-Based’ Rations & Radicalization

Apartheid era menu showing the racialization of food rations.

Apartheid era menu showing the racialization of food rations.

During Apartheid, the political prisoners of South Africa’s Robben Island would frequently go on hunger strike over the quantity and quality of their rations.  Dietitians in the service of the state’s racial system determined ‘racial diets’, according to the Western determined ‘tastes’, with little input from the races themselves. Taste differs from individual to individual.

When prisoners complain, wardens would often respond, “like it,” or “I eat no better at home.” The food would then be quickly traded among the prisoners, until that activity found out and suspended; it later resumes.  There is no need for a racial structure of rations, except but to make detention efforts more backwards and cumbersome. Why should they go through such an effort?

It seems to me that a diet of hunger and frustration only serves to radicalize.

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