While in Cape Town, South Africa, two weeks ago for an honoring ceremony and the 63rd Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI), Liberian Observer publisher and managing director Kenneth Y. Best visited Robben Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and this photo was taken of him.
Mr. Best's visit to Robben Island was through the instrumentality of his classmate at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Ebbe Dommisse (Class of 1967), a South African of Afrikaans descent, who served for many years as editor-in-chief of one of that country's leading newspapers, Die Burger, in Cape Town, and his ever loving wife Daléne. She was with him while he was in Journalism School at Columbia in New York City.
Ebbe and Daléne took Mr. Best on an extensive tour of Cape Town, one of the world's most modern cities, including the Dommisses' alma mater, South Africa's leading university, Stellenbosch. The three also swept by the University of Cape Town, where Dr. Christian Bernard conducted the world's first heart transplant in 1968.
Ebbe attended the ceremony at the Cape Town City Hall where Kenneth, Ebbe's Columbia Journalism classmate, along with many others, was honored. There, Mr. Best was called upon by IPI Executive Director, Allison Bethel McKenzie, to join another leading South African journalist, Raymond Louw, to speak on behalf of all the 66 honorees, named "World Press Freedom Heroes."
Last week Wednesday Mr. Best, along with many Nigerian delegates to the IPI Congress and over a hundred other tourists, traveled by ferry on the rough Atlantic waters to Robben Island, where they were led by a tourist guide who had himself been a prisoner with Nelson Mandela on the island. They visited the tiny cell where Mandela spent his first 18 years in prison on the island. In the cell was a tiny wooden single bed with the blankets used by the world's most celebrated prisoner, folded in the room's right corner.
On return home, Mr. Best's Robben Island photo was lost in a taxi cab. But thanks be to God, the photo was retrieved by Kenneth's classmate in Cape Town, who emailed it yesterday to the Liberian publisher in Monrovia. Ebbe said the people on the ferry who had snapped the photo told him they usually keep the photos of their visitors in the computer for three days, then discard them.
Alas, thanks be to God! Even though a week had elapsed, they were still able to find it in their computer and produced another copy, which Ebbe yesterday forwarded via email to KYB in Monrovia.
We thank God for miracles, great and small, and most certainly for travel mercies!