Born to Indian immigrants, Ahmed ‘Kathy’ Kathrada has fulfilled a major role in South Africa’s recent history as one of the greatest anti-Apartheid advocates during the decades of white minority rule.
By: DAAF BORREN
Lovingly nicknamed ‘Kathy’ by many South Africans, Kathrada was born fourth in a family of six children. Due to policies of that time, he was not allowed to attend ‘European’ or ’African’ schools, and therefore was forced to move to Johannesburg for his education. Strongly influenced by leaders of the Transvaal Indian Congress, Kathrada became a political activist at the age of twelve, eventually dedicating his entire life to the South African battle for equality.
In 1963, Kathy got arrested, where after he was accused of sabotage and the attempt to overthrow the government, during the famous Rivionia-trial. Eventually he was sentenced to life imprisonment along with many other members of the African National Congress (ANC), including Nelson Mandela.
“Kathy was an inspiration to millions in different parts of the world”
After 26 years in prison, of which 18 at the notorious Robben Island, Ahmed Kathrada was released in 1989, and rejoined the ANC in the aftermath of Apartheid. After the first all-inclusive elections in 1994, Kathy served as a member of parliament and political advisor to President Mandela in the first government, led by the ANC.
His death, this morning at a hospital in Johannesburg, has caused a wave of grieve and sorrow, as Ahmed Kathrada, who was still very active in public life, was adored by millions. In a statement, Neesha Balton, the Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, said that “Kathy was an inspiration to millions in different parts of the world.” The chairperson of the foundation, Derek Hanekom, complemented Balton’s words by emotionally saying that he has lost a “revolutionary mentor and dear friend.”
“Remember your history; you have a duty to your parents, to yourself and to your country in order to make a success of yourself and your country”
Kathy, will be remembered as a great and influential figure in South African history, loved for his admirable kindness, humility and honesty. One of his last messages to the youth of South Africa, underlined is livelong commitment to an inclusive and successful South Africa: “Remember your history; you have a duty to your parents, to yourself and to your country in order to make a success of yourself and your country.”
The included video, covers the speech of Kathy during the funeral of his beloved friend, Nelson Mandela. A speech – wherein he emotionally called Mandela his “elder brother” – which, once again, underlines the inspirational role of Ahmed Kathrada in South Africa’s turbulent history. A great loss, for both the ANC and South Africa.