South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Interview Segment

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


"When the students of Soweto came into the streets unarmed and they were killed in the hundreds, that changed history. Fear was now driven out." [2:39]

Prisoners on Robben Island did not hear about the student uprising for several months. As people involved in the uprising began to come to prison, the prisoners from the older generation of activists from the early 1960s understood how significant this new resistance was.

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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