JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela’s longtime friend and co-fighter against apartheid, Ahmed Kathrada is no more. He breathed his last Tuesday morning. He was 87.
Ahmed Kathrada was thought to be among the top anti-apartheid activists who sacrificed everything trying to rid his country of the supremacist White government in the country. He was of Indian ancestry and spent as many as 26 years in jail – many of them alongside Nelson Mandela – for acts of sabotage.
The father-figure in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, Kathrada was not doing well for the last several weeks. Reports suggest that the iconic figure was admitted to a hospital for blood clotting in his brain earlier this month.
His contribution in the anti-apartheid movement has been duly recognized in South Africa and throughout the world. He received the Isitwalandwe Award (the ANC’s highest possible accolade) whilst still in prison. Besides, he has been awarded as many as four Honorary Doctorates, including the University of Missouri, Michigan State University, and the University of Kentucky.
While he was of the Indian ancestry, he himself was born in South Africa on 21 August 1929, to Indian immigrant parents. He was Muslim and had aligned well with the freedom movement of South Africans.m
A CBSNews report suggest that Kathrada was arrested on the outskirts of Johannesburg July, 1963, when the police swooped on Liliesleaf Farm in the suburb or Rivonia, where he and other “banned” persons had been meeting. Kathrada was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.
The entire South African nation seems to be mourning his death. Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a statement said, that he was “a leader who embraced the simple life, who eschewed consumptiveness, who supported righteous causes at home and abroad, whose loyalty to the ANC extended, also, to criticising it… May he rejoice in many heavenly cups of hot chocolate with his old friends and comrades, Mandela, Sisulu, Mbeki, Motsoaledi and Mahlaba, among them”.