Ahmed Kathrada

Ahmed "Kathy" Mohamed Kathrada is a South African politician and former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist. Kathrada's involvement in the anti-apartheid activities of the African National Congress (ANC) led him to his long-term imprisonment following the Rivonia Trial, in which he was held at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison along with Nelson Mandela. Following his release in 1990, he was elected to serve as a member of parliament, representing the ANC. Kathrada became a political activist at the early age of 12 when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa. He took part in various activities such as handing out leaflets and performing volunteer work in the individual passive resistance against the Pegging Act in 1941. During World War II, he was involved in the anti-war campaign of the Non- European United Front. Kathrada has won numeous awards including the "Isithwalandwe"; the highest award bestowed by the ANC, The ANC's Merit Award, for long service, Presidential Order for Meritorious Service; Class 1: Gold, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, by President of India, and The City of Johannesburg bestowed its highest honour, Freeman of the City. Kathrada was portrayed by Riaad Moosa in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

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In 1963 Kathrada was arrested and was charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means. In 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Dennis Goldberg. While in jail on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor, Kathrada completed Bachelor's degrees in History/Criminology and Bibliography as well as Honours degrees in History and African Politics through the University of South Africa. (The prison authorities refused to allow him or the other prisoners to pursue postgraduate studies.) In 1955 Kathrada helped organise the multi-racial 'Congress of the People', which proclaimed the 'Freedom Charter', a policy document of the Congress Alliance. Kathrada served on the Alliance's General Purpose Committee. The Freedom Charter forms the basis of the Ahmen Kathrada Foundation whose core objective is to deepen non-racialism.


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