Madiba tribute: Ahmed Kathrada

By Kirstin Buick
06 December 2013

Former activist Ahmed Kathrada pays tribute to Nelson Mandela.

POLITICAL ACTIVIST, ONE OF THE RIVONIA ACCUSED WHO WAS SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT

Madiba was called fairly early by the authorities, who said, “We’re prepared to exempt you from work.” But his attitude was, “You know, I’m just a prisoner,” and he wouldn’t accept special treatment for himself although they offered it. He would volunteer to do everything everybody else did, including getting down on the floor and polishing.
'He wouldn’t accept special treatment for himself although they offered it.'

He’d registered to do Afrikaans and he was allowed the Huisgenoot [YOU and DRUM’s sister magazine]. Warders weren’t allowed to bring anything into the sections – no newspapers, no magazines, no books – so these chaps who looked after us at night were bored; they had nothing to do but walk up and down the passage. The nasty ones would try to trap us with this rule: if you’re studying standard eight you sleep at eight and if you’re studying standard 10 you sleep at 10 and at university you sleep at 11. But Madiba struck up good relations with some of these night chaps and gave them the Huisgenoot, so they allowed him to write late.

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