South African freedom fighter of Indian descent gets rare honor

South African freedom fighter of Indian descent Ahmed Kathrada was granted the freedom of Cape Town.


South African freedom fighter of Indian descent Ahmed Kathrada was awarded the Cape Town Freedom Title, becoming the sixth of those recipients in the country’s oldest city.

Mr. Kathrada was a close confidant of South Africa’s first black president and global anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela.

Mr Kathrada, 86, said in a lighter vein that he was awarded as a famous citizen because “all he did was serve 26 years as a political prisoner alongside Mandela and others on Robben Island, which is under city jurisdiction, without paying taxes. “

The other recipients of this honor are Mr. Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

Mr Kathrada said he nevertheless accepted the honor not for himself, but on behalf of the many other South African citizens who had “sacrificed their lives and bodies to create a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society” .

“We sometimes forget that freedom has cost enormous costs and sacrifices and that many of these scars have not yet had time to heal. We sometimes forget that 1994 was just the start of a new journey and not the final destination itself, ”said Kathrada. , referring to the election of Mandela as the country’s first democratically elected president.

Referring to Cape Town as “a beautiful city”, Mr Kathrada also reminded authorities that there was a dark side to its history of slavery and the social, economic, geographic and psychological upheaval caused by the forced evictions, which had to be addressed.

“It manifests itself in unemployment, extreme poverty, drug addiction and gangsterism in the racially segregated slums of the apartheid era.

“We must build a future of justice, equality and dignity for every person in Cape Town, and even in our country, so that every citizen can aspire and realize their full potential,” said Mr Kathrada.

Three years ago, Mr. Kathrada was also released from the city of Johannesburg, where he spent his youth before his arrest and imprisonment by the apartheid authorities for treason.

Thelma J. Longworth

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