For those of you who are not familiar with the name ‘Ahmed Kathrada’ purely because you’re a millennial; no judgement.

I’m positive we all know Nelson Mandela and the basic history behind *Apartheid but has your high school History syllabus actually extended this courtesy to the man- affectionately known as “uncle Kathy”?

The following information provided by South Africa History Online, should motivate you as a young person to learn the name ‘Ahmed Kathrada’ and to uphold his legacy:

1. Ahmed Kathrada was a South African politician, anti-Apartheid activist and former political prisoner.

2. He was born in the Transvaal but due to certain Apartheid laws at the time Kathrada was not allowed to attend “European” or “African” school’s in the area thus leading him to move to Johannesburg to be educated.

3. He started his political journey at the early age of 12 when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa.

4. He then left school at 17 years old to work full time for the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council to work against an Apartheid law called the “Ghetto act” which meant that Indians had limited political representation and the areas in which they could live, trade and own land was defined by the government.

5. In 1964 the year the famous Rivonia Trial ended Kathrada was accused of sabotage and plotting to overthrow the government.

6. This lead to his arrest and he was sentenced to life imprisonment along with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba and Walter Sisulu to name a few.

7. During his imprisonment time he went to Robben Island, as well as Cape Town’s Pollsmoor prison.

8. We all know the famous prison number “46664” but did you know that 46864 was Kathrada’s number meaning he was in a maximum prison section where some of the most influential leaders and members of banned political organisations were kept.

9. During his sentence he completed a Bachelor’s degree in history and criminology as well as an Honours degree in African Politics through the University of South Africa.

Theses facts relate to his younger days and are a lesson to all millennials (as cliché as that may sound) that anything is possible. Also that you’re able to make a major change, regardless of your struggle and circumstance.

Ahmed Kathrada experienced trauma in his younger days that are beyond what we as millennials, think a “struggle” really is.

We live in a diverse, democratic country, all thanks to these very individuals like uncle Kathy who fought for our freedom.

We can make it regardless of how hard we think our lives are.

Kathrada passed away from complications of a cerebral embolism on 28 March 2017, aged 87.

South Africans are heartbroken over his death because this beloved comrade brought hope to a country that direly requires it, and often our socio economic climate often appears so bleak.

So, with that said; uphold the name Ahmed Kathrada and remember him like you do Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko and never, never forget the names of the people who made our South Africa the place it is today.

Your life was spent in the fight for our freedom. May your soul rest in revolutionary peace, uncle Kathy.

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*Apartheid – A rigid former policy of segregating and economically and politically oppressing the nonwhite population

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