Ahmed Kathrada passed away in his sleep early this morning – bringing an end to a life fully lived. The ANC stalwart died at the age of 87. Today POWER remembers Kathrada – with a documentary – THEN AND NOW.
“When Walter died I lost a father and now I have lost a brother my life is in a void and I don’t know who to turn too”
It was heart breaking watching uncle Kathy bid farewell to Madiba. As his voice broke and tears stalked his eyes the full import of what these comrades shared was brought home in stark, real and emotional detail. Comrades in arms, comrades in prison, comrades in the final hour. Standing outside the hospital where he was being treated in the cold and dark of a side street watching streams of people arrive and leave I was moved by the thought of the magnitude of the life in a ward just behind me.
Feelings confirmed when his niece told of gratitude to the country for its love and support of her uncle. As tears streamed down her face and she choked back her words it brought home what his absence might have been like for all those years. I began to think about his 23 years and 3 months in prison, 18 of which were spent on Robben Island. I began to think about the life he missed, the granular detail of what years of separation means, birth days missed, babies born, loved ones who passed away.
He once said, not being able to see or interact with children for 20 years was possibly the hardest thing to endure on the island. I thought about he and others were so robbed of choice and freedom and what each of those 8 730 days or so meant. Time that could’ve been wild awake by choice or nothing, on just doing nothing. Time spent on going to the shops, time spent on sitting on a sofa, reading a book, sipping a cup of tea, stroking the hand of the one you love, falling asleep under a tree, visiting friends unexpectedly. Time at children’s parties around dinner tables, at a funeral lending a shoulder to weeping faces for the life that has passed on. Time at the beach, toes in the sand, body anointed by the ocean current. Time with family watching children grow up, time on love affairs and stolen kisses. All taken, all sacrificed, for this country, for our freedom to do exactly those things.
Through his continued activism and public statements we felt his pain for his party, his political home, the ANC. Nelson Mandela said of him: “Our relationship has been one of war and peace, he concentrated on the war expect and I concentrated on the peace”.
Uncle Kathy’s militancy could not be restrained as we read his letter to the president as exactly a year ago agonized asking him to ‘Go!’ ending off by saying: “To paraphrase the old MK slogan of the time. ‘There comes a time in the life of every nation when it must choose to submit or fight’, today I appeal to our president to submit to the will of the people and resign.”
We know what he thought about the ANC he loved and who’s service that he continued to serve as a rank and foul member. We know how his heart hurt at the place it has come to be. It has been 28 years since his confinement on an island surrounded by sharks and a massive body of water. And only a moment since he breathed his last but his ideas will be like seeds his will like the wind that disperses them across the arch of time for us all to hopefully take heed of”
via Power FM