Let’s fulfil Kathrada’s dream

2017-04-02 07:44
Denis Goldberg

Denis Goldberg

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When Denis Goldberg saw Ahmed Kathrada at an event at Cape Town’s Drakenstein Prison in early February, he suspected it may be the last time he would see him alive. The struggle hero was, Goldberg says, weak and pale, struggling to walk, and showing signs of being confused.

“He seemed to be having difficulty focusing. I was told that he had fallen and bumped his head, which seemed to have affected his cognitive ability,” Goldberg says.

“I knew then that we would soon be hearing bad news.”

About seven weeks after their meeting at the prison, where the 27th anniversary of former president Nelson Mandela’s historic release from the facility was marked, Goldberg’s fears came true.

Kathrada, one of the three remaining Rivonia Trialists, had died.

Goldberg, 83, says he was shattered when he heard the news.

“His death made me aware of my age. I am one of the two remaining Rivonia Trialists and the youngest of all of them, but I am not young and I know that soon I will follow,” he says.

The thought of leaving this world gives Goldberg anxiety. But there is some consolation: “I know that when I arrive on the other side, my comrade will be waiting for me.”

South Africa has lost a great man in Kathrada, he says.

“His wisdom will be missed in the ANC, which is in desperate need of a renewal of leadership,” he says.

“I will miss Kathy and his humour. He always saw me as child among the Rivonia Trialists and used every opportunity to remind me of that.

“When I turned 80, he said to me: ‘You know you are still a baby, maybe you should apply for a social grant because your parents are no longer here to take care of you.’ I laughed.”

Goldberg and the other Rivonia Trialists played a major role in the liberation of South Africa.

He says that, while this freedom was attained, South Africans must never forget that this was just the beginning of their emancipation.

“We should use the legacy left by Kathrada and the other stalwarts to achieve what we dreamt about when we involved ourselves in the liberation struggle.

"Kathrada wanted a South Africa that is nonracial, treats people with dignity, and has leaders who lead with integrity and uphold the Constitution,” he says.

“Let us fulfil Kathrada’s dream and build a South Africa that we can all be proud of.”

Read more on:    denis goldberg  |  ahmed kathrada  |  rivonia trial

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