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ROBIN BINCKES : Apartheid

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meet Robin Binckes

Robin is regarded as one of South Africa's top history guides. He is a well known public speaker and writes on South African history. He founded and runs an NGO called 'Friends of Alexandria' and in the townships they respectfully call him 'Mkhonto' (spear).

Robin Binckes - South Africa [© 2012 GreatGuides.org]

Robin is regarded as one of South Africa's top history guides. He is a well known public speaker and writes on South African history. He founded and runs an NGO called 'Friends of Alexandria' and in the townships they respectfully call him 'Mkhonto' (spear).

Robin had a successful corporate career in marketing, then started his own fishing company, created national fish and deli outlets and finally started his own successful supermarket. But two events changed his life. The first was to meet David Rattray. David was a guide on the Zulu battlefields (Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift) and a master storyteller. The power of his guiding had a deep influence on all who met him (see also Rob Caskie). Robin came away from Zululand knowing that he wanted to become a history guide like David, and immediately began to question and develop his understanding of South African history.

In 1993, when the youth leader Chris Hani was assassinated, South Africa teetered on the brink of civil war. Robin volunteered as a peace monitor and worked to ease tensions in the most violent townships. Robin embraced the 'new South Africa' and threw himself into helping to establish democracy. Today, Robin's NGO in Alexandria Township feeds hundreds of orphans a day and supports sport. The local soccer team is called 'Mkhonto' in his honour.

But Robin also leads tours, not only for tourists but also for South Africans, from kids to executives. He takes them to places where apartheid was fought, even the torture cells of the police. He tells gripping stories from 'the struggle', so that we understand, and do not forget, the drama and the meaning of those years and the price that was paid for democracy.



Author: Roddy Bray
Date: 11 May 2010
Location: Southern Africa | South Africa
Themes: the past | 1945 - 1990, 1990 - present