South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Interview Segment

Ahmed Kathrada
March 23, 2006 East Lansing, Michigan, United States.


"Concealed in the banana was a needle, a pencil lead, and thread. So that got my mind working ..." [3:43]

Ahmed Kathrada explains how important communication was to people being detained and how he communicated with people outside using his laundry.

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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