Kathrada on Castro, forgiveness and everything in between

2017-03-28 06:12
Ahmed Kathrada (File, Netwerk24)

Ahmed Kathrada (File, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - From forgiveness to Fidel Castro, from imprisonment to reconciliation, struggle stalwart and Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada, 87, never held back. Here are some of his thoughts over the years.

On forgiveness

"We can’t live a life of bitterness, revenge and hatred. As difficult as it may be, we have to forgive."

On Fidel Castro

"History will always judge people differently based on who is writing it. For many in South Africa though, Castro has, and always will, symbolise anti-imperialism."

On President Jacob Zuma

"I am not a political analyst, but I am now driven to ask: 'Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as President will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?'"

On his love for children 

"That’s what one misses most in prison. It’s an artificial society without children and you want to even just hear a child crying. That’s how bad it is and that deprivation was the very worst. Not the food, nothing else. Just the deprivation of engaging with children."

On reconciliation 

"We have to work together and towards improving the future of our country, but while realising our weaknesses and making use of our strengths."

On imprisonment 

"When you have been deprived of freedom of speech for so many years, you never get fed up of talking."

On the ANC 

"The ANC brought us freedom. It led the people of South Africa to freedom. For the first time after 300 years of apartheid rule, it was the ANC that brought freedom to our country. Freedom did not fall from heaven, freedom was fought for. Freedom was sacrificed for."


Ahmed Kathrada speaks at Nelson Mandela's funeral. (File, Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

At Nelson Mandela’s funeral 

"Mandela, while we may be drowned in sorrow and grief, we salute you as a fighter for freedom to the end. Farewell my elder brother, my mentor, my leader. With all the energy and determination at our command, we pledge to join the people of South Africa and the world to perpetuate the ideals and values for which you have devoted your life."

When Walter Sisulu died

"I lost a father and now I have lost a brother. My life is in a void and I don't know who to turn to."

On his dream for South African children 

"When one can be satisfied that every child goes to bed with a full stomach, gets up smiling, goes to school properly clothed, not to have to walk a great distance to school. When that happens, then only can we be satisfied." 

On Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

"We remember your courage, loyalty and commitment to the struggle. We recall how you kept the flag flying in very difficult conditions throughout our imprisonment. Under adverse conditions even under banishment in Brandfort you managed to organise the people. We salute you. It will take many books to capture your contribution to the struggle. To me and countless others, you remain a leader and a hero."

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