Ahmed Kathrada: the man behind the giant
Deeper insight into the life of a struggle icon
Ahmed Kathrada died last week, having worked alongside other great struggle stalwarts such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. Quiet and retiring, Kathrada was never comfortable in the limelight, though he remained politically active until his death.
While much has been written about Kathrada, there are three books worth noting if you want more on his life.
The most recent is Sahm Venter’s Conversations with a Gentle Soul which was published last month and comes from a series of interviews and conversations between Kathrada and Venter, a journalist.
A Free Mind: Ahmed Kathrada’s Notebook from Robben Island, also edited by Venter, is a collection of poetry, novels, songs, sayings and letters that Kathrada transcribed and kept while a prisoner on Robben Island.
But certainly the most fascinating and revealing is Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn, which is a collection of letters exchanged between Kathrada and Zuleikha Mayat, a close friend of the then political prisoner on Robben Island between 1979 and 1989.
Compiled by Goolam Vahed and Thembisa Waetjen, it not only gives rich insight into the historical context of the history and politics of that period, it also offers rare insight into the man who is held in the same esteem as Mandela and Sisulu.