Letter from Africa: Remembering South Africa’s Ahmed Kathrada

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Ahmed Kathrada spent 26 years in prison

In our series of letters from African journalist, Elizabeth Ohene looks back at the time she met the late South African anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada after he was freed from prison.

This past week in Johannesburg there was a funeral I wished I had been able to attend.

Ahmed Kathrada, well-known African National Congress (ANC) activist and South African statesman, was laid to rest. The well-deserved tributes to the man, affectionately known as Kathy, who died at the age of 87 have been delivered.

It was not the politics surrounding the funeral, with President Jacob Zuma being asked to stay away, that was the main attraction for me, even though I must confess I would not have minded being there to hear some of the speeches.

I would simply have liked to be there to be part of an event that would mark the closure for a journey that started for me on 15 October 1989 in the Soweto township.

I was on my first reporting trip to South Africa for the BBC and, after having been denied a visa for more than two years, I was finally granted one after the intervention of the redoubtable anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman.

As things turned out, it was the perfect time to have arrived in the country.


Elizabeth Ohene:

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Elizabeth Ohene

“I remember Ahmed Kathrada telling me he was trying to get used…

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