Kathrada lived for South Africa

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Nosihle Shelembe

By Nosihle Shelembe

Pretoria – Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada’s activism has been a consistent feature in the struggle for liberation and fundamental transformation of South Africa for decades, says Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

“Comrade Kathy was part of a special generation of South Africans, who devoted their lives strictly, faithfully and single-mindedly to just one mission - freedom in their lifetime,” Premier Makhura said.

Addressing mourners on Wednesday at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg, Premier Makhura said the struggle stalwart was part of a team that shaped the ANC’s political strategy and tactics since the 1940s as both a deep thinker and a man of action.

“We are here to pay our last respects to a man who inspired our nation just by force of example, a true revolutionary who lived a life underpinned by compassion, humility, a sense of justice and equality and respect for human dignity.

“We are here because his powerful but gentle presence on earth enriched our lives personally and politically,” he said.

The 87-year-old struggle stalwart passed away on Tuesday morning at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg after a short period of illness.

According to Premier Makhura, the struggle stalwart deployed his humility, intellect and humour effectively to marshal the people of South Africa and the world behind the vision of non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic prosperous society.

“We grieve his passing because his humility helped bridged the gap between various generations in the movement and in society. We grieve his death because of his work in promoting non-racialism, which is unfolding as well right now at a time when our country needs more consistent and determined effort to build social cohesion and nation building on the basis of equality and social justice.

“We grieve his departure because he leaves our national lives much poorer. Although he is silent today, comrade Kathy was never a silent man throughout his life of 87 years,” he said.

He said veterans and struggle stalwarts are the voices of reason in society.

“We must be angry if anyone insults our stalwarts and veterans, for they represent that monumental honour, that dignity, that integrity of the liberation struggle and the priceless pride of our people and the conscience of our nation.

"Let’s ensure that the voices of our struggle veterans are heard and respected. So as we bid farewell to you, we rededicate ourselves to the vision espoused in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of our democratic republic,” Premier Makhura said.

Delivering the eulogy, former President Kgalema Motlanthe said Kathrada was a redoubtable, diligent and passionate activist for social change and justice.

“We are pained, gutted, saddened and sorrowful. We are a nation in mourning… One of our most revered national leaders has shuffled off this mortal point,” Motlanthe said.

He expressed his deepest condolences to Kathrada’s life partner Barbara Hogan, family, friends and comrades.

“The anti-apartheid struggle redefined the very notion of being human, challenging the idea of racial hierarchy, historically steeped in the ethos of the European’s enlightenment,” Motlanthe said.

He said Kathrada established his foundation because he was troubled by the climate of racism which consumed the country.

“Such a life as that of comrade Kathrada is worth celebrating. What he and his political organisation, the ANC, stood for has forever enriched human experience. We should take comfort from the immortality of the idea that we find social existence, the idea of freedom.

“While mortality has blown off his life, his vision will always remain etched in historical memory,” Motlanthe said.

Kathrada served 26 years in prison. He was held on Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prisons.

Following his release in 1989, he was elected to serve as a member of the democratic Parliament, representing the governing party. – SAnews.gov.za

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