ACCORD’s Founder and Executive Director invited to speak at memorial service for the late Ahmed Kathrada

On 28 March 2017 the Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Advocate Vasu Gounden, in his capacity as a Trustee of the Gandhi Development Trust, was invited to be one of the speakers at the memorial service held in Durban, South Africa, for the late Ahmed Kathrada. Below is a copy of the message of condolence that Advocate Gounden wrote and delivered at the City Hall in Durban where the memorial was held.


Tomorrow the sun will rise on our beautiful country and her innocent children will not know that a giant of humanity, a man of integrity, a man of humility, a man of determination, a true patriot who cared about them more than anything else walked these shores and left footprints for them to follow. His footprints will endure even the roughest seas and the largest tides because they are the footprints etched with the golden threads that built the edifice of our new South Africa.

Comrades and friends on behalf of the Mahatma Gandhi Development Trust (GDT) and on behalf of another giant of our struggle, Ela Gandhi (who cannot be with us today because she has travelled to the funeral of Uncle Kathy), I greet you and share our condolences with the family and our entire nation on the passing of this giant of humanity, Uncle Kathy!

The GDT, established to spread the teachings and values of another great giant of humanity, Mahatma Gandhi believes that they only way we can pay tribute to a great spirit like Ahmed Kathrada is to emulate his own beliefs, many of which resonate with those of Mahatma Gandhi.

Today, as our beloved country struggles with correcting the injustices of apartheid and as Uncle Kathy put it wage our war on poverty and unemployment, we remember from the struggles of oppressed peoples all around the world that the road to freedom and total emancipation is paved with obstacles that sometime will unite us but will oftentimes divide us. It will pit brother against brother and father against son…testing the power of loyalty, patriotism, comradeship and friendship.

In these times when we despair let us remember the words of Uncle Kathy and I quote, “While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering. We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil; a triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness; a triumph of the new South Africa over the old.”

Let us remember that our project is to ensure that the new South Africa triumphs over the old apartheid South Africa. Let us recognize our differences and disagreements but let us never forget our loyalties, our patriotism, our comradeship and our friendship. Let us not allow the forces of evil to divide us.

Let me end by appealing to all of us in this time of grief in our country to heed the words of Mahatma Gandhi who said and I quote, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.

Let us, at this juncture in the history of our liberation struggle, that Uncle Kathy and the thousands paid such a high price for, when the strength of our nation is being tested…let us hold steadfast to the beliefs that got us here and shaped our thoughts, let us be careful about how our thoughts manifest into words, let us be careful the actions that will result from our words and let us leave habits, and values that will shape a better destiny for our children that Uncle Kathy cared so much about.

Hamba Kahle Comrade Kathy!

Advocate Gounden is also a National Advocate for Nation Building and Social Cohesion, having been appointed in 2014, which aims to promote nation building and social cohesion. Below is the message of condolence sent to the Kathrada Family by the Chairperson of the Advocates for Social Cohesion and Nation Building, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, on behalf of the Advocates.

On this morning of the 28th of March 2017, the world woke up to the sad news of the passing of Ahmed “Uncle Kathy” Kathrada, a gallant hero of the struggle for our liberation who consistently fought for justice for all throughout his adult life until his passing.

As the Advocates for Social Cohesion and Nation Building, we experienced Uncle Kathy as a great humanist, a brave and courageous advocate for social justice and good governance. With the courage of his conviction, he stood up against the self-serving tendencies of contemporary politics in our country.

For us his fellow Advocates, he was always the quiet sage: the wise grandpa, the father, uncle, brother and friend. He was the epitome of wisdom, integrity, selflessness and humility and a social cohesion advocate who truly believed that South Africa belonged to all those who lived in it. He particularly and bravely stood up against racism wherever and whenever it raises its ugly head.

Ahmed Kathrada had a deep passion for intergenerational dialogue, instilling in younger generations of society the values of true leadership and commitment that he and those of his generation relied upon in the struggle for freedom, equality and human dignity – for our generation and all generations to come.

On behalf of the Advocates of Social Cohesion and Nation Building, we extend our deepest condolences to his beloved Barbara Hogan, his family, the African National Congress that he loved so dearly, and all those who live in South Africa.

We will miss Uncle “Kathy” and his voice of reason and wisdom. But we will not forget the values of commitment to selfless service and leadership he instilled in all of us.


Justice Yvonne Mokgoro

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