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Madiba Memories – 25 years after his release: Ahmed Kathrada


“It was a very exciting and emotional moment for us”. Ahmed Kathrada, struggle veteran and life-long friend of Nelson Mandela, spoke to Smile 90.4FM about his relationship with Nelson Mandela, and the day Madiba was freed after 27 years behind bars.

Kathrada, fellow Robben Island inmate, himself served 26 years behind bars for his political convictions of which 18 were on the island.

Kathrada was released on 15 October 1989, at the age of 60. “I have so many memories of Mandela but one that comes to mind especially is when I injured my back and had to spend 10 days in bed. Every day Madiba spent an hour with me, just making me comfortable – physically as well as spiritually. That was a great comfort to me”, says Kathrada.

According to the struggle icon, he was not the only beneficiary of Mandela’s kindness. “He did that for all the Robben Island prisoners who needed a helping hand”.

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