‘It’s in the youths’ hands now’

2014-11-01 00:00

A FREE society should not be taken for granted, struggle hero and Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada said in a lecture marking his 25th year of freedom at UKZN yesterday.

The address also marked his 85th birthday.

Kathrada, who spent 26 years in prison, said the biggest challenges facing South Africa today were poverty and hunger.

“We can’t leave things to government; we, the public, need to help through NGOs and to get involved where we can,” he said.

He said the country had come a long way since the dawn of democracy. “We have made tremendous change and will continue to make change as we go along.”

Kathrada said the youth had an obligation to make use of the facilities that were previously not available for people of colour.

“Youth owe it to themselves, their parents and the country,” he said.

He emphasised that freedom came with a responsibility.

“Jail was the least of the prices that people had to pay during apartheid. Freedom was not cheap; people died for this country,” he said.

He spoke about his time in prison and when they went on trial.

“We decided before we went on trial we would state our political affiliation and would not apologise for it,” he said.

Kathrada said they were stripped of their dignity on Robben Island. “We were told to call our wardens ‘baas’ and despite Mandela being senior to me, he was made to wear short pants because the black people were considered children.”

• rumana.akoob@witness.co.za

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