28 March 2017
Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity joins the South African nation – and many others across Africa and around the globe who have supported the freedom struggle – in mourning the loss of a leading light of the liberation movement.
Anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada passed away today in Johannesburg at the age of 87 after a lifetime spent leading the fight for the human rights and dignity of Africans.
Said Kumi Naidoo, launch director of Africans Rising: “Ahmed Kathrada’s tireless contribution to the struggle for a free, democratic, non-racial South Africa was enormous.“
“His passing is a huge loss, one which is felt even more deeply at a time when everything that he committed his life to fighting for, and the country’s hard-won democracy, is under serious threat,” said Naidoo.
Kathrada spent 26 years in prison on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, jailed for his anti-apartheid activism after standing trial with Mandela and six others in the infamous Rivionia Trial. In prison, he continued to lead, providing moral and political guidance and education to other activists.
Following his release in 1989, just months before Mandela himself was freed, Kathrada continued his mission to work for a better life for all, in parliament, as a member representing the movement-turned-political party he had served, the ANC.
Ahmed Kathrada’s life was defined by the movement for liberation and the power of collective action. His activism began at the age of 12 and continued well into his senior years. He was raised in the philosophy that change is possible if people are united. He attributed his accomplishments to the efforts of the collective. Indeed, Kathrada was renowned and loved for his deep sense of humility – always putting the people and the struggle first. And always choosing truth over political expedience.
In recent years, Kathrada openly criticised the quality of leadership in the ANC and government and a culture of self-interest among leaders, at the expense of the people.
Said Naidoo: “Ahmed Kathrada’s life captured the value of unity and what we can accomplish when we unite to work for the betterment of all.”
It is Kathrada’s legacy of commitment to activism, unity, human rights and moral political leadership that Africans Rising takes up. As an emerging movement of people and formations, working for peace, justice and dignity, we call on Africans to join together in solidarity to work for the #AfricaWeWant.