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31 Mar 2017 00:00
More than 100 000 people attended a rally in Soweto on February 13 1990, two days after Nelson Mandela was released. Ahmed Kathrada (left) stood with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. (Paul Weinberg/South Photographs)
“It wasn’t just a passing on of another stalwart to me. It was a rehash of Madiba’s passing.
And it was very, very emotional to me.
“And one, of course, has fears for our country. We wish he hadn’t left at this particular time. I can imagine how pained he was that he left at this particular time. All that we have fought for was not what is going on today.
“It is a tragedy that he did live and saw what is happening today. We cannot pretend that South Africa is not in crisis. Our country is in crisis and anyone who does not believe it is bluffing themselves.”
“Kathy was very generous and had a sense of humour. During Codesa [the Convention for a Democratic South Africa] he was very helpful in getting people to be fully behind what we were discussing about the future of the country.
“He and I spoke at many gatherings together. He had a sense of humour. He would start his talk after me [by saying]: ‘I don’t know what George Bizos is doing at this gathering; he sent us to jail.’ Then he would take a breath and say: ‘But you must remember that he avoided the death sentence for us together with Bram Fischer.’ ”
“He had many connections; everybody loved him. We will remember all his qualities of hard work, integrity, commitment and dedication.
“The popular thing that goes around now is: ‘He wasn’t afraid to speak to power.’ He was like that from his young days, not mincing his words. Anything he didn’t approve of, even if you were a grown up or an old person, he would say it to you but he would say it with respect.
“We should go away with all these good memories. The way we know him. The way we have brushed shoulders with him. The way we loved him and he loved us.”
“He teases that he was probably one of the earliest proponents of the misguided doctrine of ‘liberation before education’ for dropping out of his formal studies to become a full-time political activist. If there is one thing in his life that he would do differently if he had the chance, he often tells the youth, is combine his activism with pursuing his studies. They are not mutually exclusive. If anything, they complement each other. ”
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