29 March 2017

SA celebrates the life of freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada

After over seven decades of dedicating his life to fighting for basic human rights and justice in South Africa alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni and others, Ahmed Kathrada has died.

The South African struggle stalwart, Kathrada passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the age of 87 after a short illness, following surgery to the brain at the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg.

Kathrada was part of the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in SA, which Mandela was a president of and later became the first black President of the country.

Kathrada, who was affectionately known as Uncle Kathy started his political career at a tender age when he joined a non-racial youth club run by the Young Communist League.

He was first arrested and imprisoned at the age of 17 for defying a law that discriminated against Indian South Africans. After being released he befriended the likes of Mandela and Sisulu of the ANC and that started what landed them in prison for almost three decades.

Kathrada spent 26 years and 3 months in prison, 18 of which were on Robben Island and the rest at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town. His fellow prisoners included ANC leaders such as Mandela, Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni.

He served as the parliamentary counsellor to late President Mandela, after the ANC took over in 1994.

South Africa has lost a hero and icon, who dedicated his final years of life fighting for a non-racial society. His Foundation, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is big on social rights, fighting for a country where all racial groups will be treated equally.

South Africa celebrates the life of Uncle Kathy

Popular Kathrada quotes:

"Hatred, revenge, bitterness - these are negative emotions. The person harbouring those emotions suffers more," Ahmed Kathrada.

"Another growing threat is the ignorance of young people about the history of our struggle. They need to know that with freedom comes responsibility," Ahmed Kathrada.

BET Africa salutes you for sacrificing your life for a greater cause, the freedom of an African child. Rest In Peace Uncle Kathy!

Thulile Gama