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February 17, 2014

Iconic Cape Town institutions on Valentine’s Day

Cape Town is known for its beauty, its fine wine, the delicious food and luxurious lazy days on warm beaches. Romance comes easy here. But Cape Town is also known for its strong sense of culture and heritage, and true to form, our amazing city has once again shown that it has brains and beauty, by celebrating Valentine’s Day on one of the most iconic places in South Africa – Robben Island.

Every year for the past fourteen years, Capetonian couples have taken place in a group wedding ceremony on Robben Island, and this year we were lucky enough to be part of this amazing and highly personal experience. The day started at the V & A Waterfront where guests gathered to take the short ferry ride from the mainland to Robben Island. Once on the Island, guests made their way to the small chapel on Church Street. The couples all participated in the group ceremony, during which time each couple had ten minutes to exchange vows and wedding rings, whilst some of the guests cheered and sang gloriously in the background.

This year there were 14 couples, on the 14 February 2014 – an auspicious number, according to Chief Heritage Officer Pascall Taruvinga. Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor was there to say a few words to the couples. Having been married for 31 years, she knows a few things about married life and was able to give the couples some inspiring advice: ‘Marriage is tough. Commit to loving each other, commit to fun, commit to a life together as equals.’

Minister Pandor also urged the couples to not just speak the words of Nelson Mandela, but to live by his actions. She noted that deciding to get married on Robben Island is such an inspirational gesture, that speaks to what extraordinary people South Africans are: ‘… able to turn an atrocity into something wonderful…’.

The weddings usually take the whole day, and the programme include speeches, prayers, marriage ceremonies, a photo opportunity, lunch and a tour of the Island. The weddings were truly something special to behold, and a really unique and South African way to celebrate love. If you’d like to find out more information on this and other Robben Island activities, see www.robben-island.org.za

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