South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Interview Segment

Ahmed Kathrada interviewed by Bob Vassen and Peter Alegi
March 24, 2006 East Lansing, Michigan, United States.


"That is when the [Indian] Congress called upon volunteers, and I, in my wisdom of 17 years, decided to volunteer and chucked off school ..." [3:07]

This prolonged protest called by the South African Indian Congress trained many volunteers who were willing to go to prison to protest their loss of economic and political rights.

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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