Cape Town – As the world prepares to bid farewell to Ahmed Kathrada, Independent Media Executive Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé has described the Struggle icon as “a good family friend, a dear comrade and a wonderful human being”.
Former Robben Island prisoner Kathrada passed away in hospital after a short illness.
Survé said the country had lost one of the great minds, who dedicated his life to liberation and represented an important part in creating a non-racial society.
Survé sent Independent Media, African News Agency (ANA) and Sekunjalo’s deepest condolences to Kathrada’s partner Barbara Hogan, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the rest of his family and friends.
“When I was informed that he was not too well a couple of weeks ago, of course I was concerned. Yesterday (Monday) his condition had deteriorated, and members of the family informed me that he was unlikely to make it. That was really sad. I guess I was sad because to an extent it was unexpected that he left us so suddenly,” Survé said.
He said the 87-year-old did not look his age because of his ability to take serious issues and find humour in them.
“That was Kathrada or Kathy’s trademark, including lots of tales which were related about his time on Robben Island or when the security police were trying to find him, his disguises and all those kind of things. He still had a very active mind. He was still fairly healthy physically as well and it was very sad to hear of this death, but even more sad that it happened so quickly,” said Survé.
“I often think about what he might have been thinking about the challenges facing the ANC. Did he go to the other side thinking that his personal sacrifices were in vain?” he said.
Survé said one of the most profound memories with Kathrada was when he and the family had visited the Nelson Mandela statue at Victor Verster Prison in Paarl.
He said he considered Kathrada as a mentor because he remained humble despite the adversity he had faced.
“I mean as you fight the Struggle, it’s almost difficult to remain humble. It’s difficult to remain humble in this country. You must have confidence, although other people see it as arrogance. Uncle Kathy never changed,” he said.
Survé added it had been an honour working with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation in the establishment of the Racism Stops With Me Campaign, aimed at combating racism in the country.
“I am happy Kathy was able to see the legacy of the foundation living after him. I think that’s important,” he said.