From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
HONORING THE LIFE OF AHMED “KATHY” KATHRADA
(Mr. COHEN asked and was given permission to address the House for 1
minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I was awakened today to the news of a
gentleman from South Africa, who was one of the great historic men I
have experienced in my life, an antiapartheid activist and a blessed
man, Ahmed Kathrada, known as Kathy, passed away.
Kathy was an Indian gentleman who went to Johannesburg with his
family as a young man and found that, at age 8, he had to move there
because there were no Indian schools in South Africa. He became, at a
very early age, an activist for social reform and against apartheid,
first for Indian rights and then against apartheid and for South
He was arrested, along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Mbeki,
Goldberg, and other leaders of the ANC, tried in the famous Rivonia
trial in 1963, and convicted as they all were. He spent 18 years in
prison on Robben Island, with Nelson Mandela and others, and 8
additional years in prison. But when released from prison, he didn't
see bitterness, he saw only peace and a period of commitment to
resolving race relations in South Africa.
He befriended the people who had been his guards and who had
subjected him to minority rights. He was elected to the African
National Congress party as a delegate to parliament and served as one
of Nelson Mandela's aides. He received four honorary degrees in his
life, one from the University of Kentucky, one from Michigan State, and
one from the University of Missouri. He moved back to Robben Island,
lived there, and gave tours of the museum.
On my second trip to South Africa, where I met him on a second
occasion, he led our group on our tour. It was remarkable to see the
prison guards hand
the key to the prison to the former prisoner.
Kathy was a great human being and a humanitarian individual who
served the Indian people, the South African nation, and humanity in a
superb fashion. His was a life well-lived. I was fortunate to have met
him, and I am sorry for his loss.