Dr. Sedick Isaacs with his wife Maraldea. Picture:RUSANA PHILANDER
What started out as a simple memoir he was planning to leave his grandchildren one day has now developed into a book, written by Dr Sedick Isaacs, 72.
Isaacs was a political activist and prisoner incarcerated on Robben Island in 1963, for 12 years. However, in 1969 his sentence was increased for operating a pirate radio, which helped keep him and his fellow prisoners informed about world events.
Isaacs also made a key, which he used to open jail cells on the island. Upon his release in 1977, the apartheid government imposed a banning order on him, until 1984.
He worked as a statistician for Groote Schuur Hospital and was later responsible for post-graduate courses in medical informatics at the medical faculty of the University of Cape Town.
While on the island, Isaacs obtained a BA in maths and psychology, as well as a Master's degree in information science and a doctoral degree in computer science.
Isaacs's book, called Surviving the Apartheid Prison, was recently published using his wife's pension money.
Recalling how she came to use the money she'd set aside for retirement on the book, Maraldea Isaacs said she came across her husband's memoir in a drawer one day.
After reading it, she encouraged Isaacs to get it published. "It was also a revelation for our daughters, Nadia and Wanita," said Isaacs.
"The first time they realised what we went through in prison was when they saw the letters I wrote.
They were in a display cabinet in the museum on Robben Island." Isaacs was also instrumental in arranging different sporting codes for the prisoners.
In the chapter entitled sport and recreation, he writes: "The human need for recreation is innate and must be fairly basic. The comrades started playing 'soccer' by making a ball out of rags issued for polishing the floor and kicking it around the cell.
"Soccer started in an undramatic manner. The head of the prison brought a leather ball and just dumped it into the cell. That weekend we had our first soccer match," he said.
Isaacs is also a member of the Retired Teachers' Association and has been teaching maths to primary school children from the Cape Flats.
"Even though there is a lot that can be done to improve the education system, I think there are also some positive things happening," he said.