South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Interview Segment

Ahmed Kathrada
March 22, 2006 East Lansing, Michigan, United States.


"When we had to change into prison clothes, on a cold, wintry day, the President's father [Govan Mbeki] was given short trousers; I was given long trousers, by law." [1:10]

Ahmed Kathrada explains how apartheid was applied in prison, with different racial groups being treated differently.

Born in 1929, Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada dropped out of high school to do political work, participating in many campaigns of the Congress Alliance. He was active in the Transvaal Indian (Youth) Congress and the South African Communist Party and was detained and put under house arrest. He went underground in 1963 and was one of the accused at the Rivonia Trial, although he was not a member of the ANC military wing. He spent 18 years on Robben Island, where he earned two BA degrees and helped Nelson Mandela edit his autobiography. In 1994, he was elected to Parliament and was a senior advisor to President Mandela.

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