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Books > History > No Bread For Mandela: Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada
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No Bread For Mandela: Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada
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No Bread For Mandela: Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada
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Foreword by Nelson Mandela

 

Ahmed Kathrada has been so much part of my life over such a long period that it is inconceivable that I could allow him to 'write his memoirs without me contributing something, even if only through a brief foreword. Our stories have become so interwoven that the telling of one without the voice. of the other being heard somewhere would have led to an incomplete narrative.

 

Kathy's contribution to our liberation struggle and to our movement is well known and well documented. His courage and his commitment to his comrades are legendary. His mature wisdom was an important ingredient of our deliberations and discussions.

 

What further distinguished him was that he, together with a few other comrades, was an important depository of organisational memory. It is important that the history of our struggle and of our movement be recorded as fully and with all the different perspectives and nuances. Kathy was always analysing and trying to understand, even while he was an active participant.

 

After our release from prison he, characteristically, became involved in archival, historical and legacy projects about the liberation movement. Few others have spent as much time and energy on tracing and finding the masses of files and other material from the police and prison authorities, providing a rich base for future research and writing. He was instrumental in establishing and driving the Robben Island Museum project.

 

It is fitting that he now writes his own memoirs, giving us all the benefit of his remarkable memory about events and periods in which he was actively and centrally involved.

 

I, for one, look forward to reading his memoirs. He had been of so much assistance to me in the writing of my own. I am eager to read his independent version of the events and times that we shared.

 

Preface

 

These memoirs serve to fulfil a promise I made to myself while I was in prison. It was prompted by the dearth of information on important events in liberation history, and the realisation that much, if not most, of what had been published in books, newspapers and magazines was incomplete or riddled with error and distortion.

 

Circumstances placed me in the unique position of having uninterrupted access to the memory of my comrade and mentor, Waiter Sisulu, who was acknowledged as the living authority on the subject.

 

This book is by no means an effort to fill the void. Far from it. It would be presumptuous of me to even think so. My memoirs make no claim to being a documented history, nor is this my autobiography, both of which would demand serious research and qualified writers.

 

This volume is no more than what I remember, from my childhood, through the years of the struggle in which I was one of thousands of participants, my prison. years, and the ushering in of democracy. Naturally, there has been some reference to books and libraries, largely in attempts to confirm some of my hazier recollections, but this is not an academic book, nor was it intended to be.

 

I came out of prison at the age of sixty, having spent almost half of my adult life behind bars. In compiling my memoirs, I tried to resist the (understandable) temptation to overplay my prison experience by placing it in context between my rural childhood and political events that preceded the Rivonia Trial, and those that happened twenty-six years later.

 

Any account of life behind bars must needs include stereotypical images of forbidding grey walls and barred windows, austere, cold cells, inedible food and inhumane punishment, manifold deprivation and man-made efforts to strip one of all dignity and self-respect.

 

My experience was no different, but the picture of political prisoners was one of 'great warmth, fellowship and friendship, humour and laughter; of strong convictions and a generosity of spirit and compassion, solidarity and care. It is a picture of continuous learning, of getting to know and live with your fellow beings, their strengths as well as their idiosyncrasies; but more important, where one comes to know one's self, one's weaknesses, inadequacies and potential. Unbelievably, it is a very positive, confident, determined yes, even a happy community,"

 

In 1993, I was invited to open the Robben Island Exhibition organised by the Mayibuye Centre. My concluding remarks were: 'While we will not forget the brutalities 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 the 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.'

 

This remains the message that the Robben Island Museum Council and its staff try to convey through all our activities, publications and personal interaction with the public.

 

Contents

 

 

Foreword by Nelson Mandela

ix

 

Foreword by Arthur Chaskalson

xi

 

Preface

xiii

 

Acknowledgements

xv

 

Abbreviations

xvii

 

Prologue

xix

 

PART I: EARLY LIFE OF A 'SABOTEUR'

 

1.

A Boy from Schweizer

3

2.

The Dadoo Factor

14

3.

Awareness Deepens

30

4.

A Luta Continua

60

5.

Oppression Knows No Boundaries

82

6.

Defiance

92

7.

Congress of the People, Permits and Prison

105

8.

We Stand By Our Leaders

120

9.

High Roads and Low Ebbs

147

 

PART II: ANOTHER TERRAIN OF THE STRUGGLE

 

10.

The Rivonia Trial

171

11.

Outpost of Oppression

209

12.

Islands in Time

245

13.

The Bad Years

265

14.

By Stealth and Subterfuge

279

15.

Changing Times

305

16.

Leading Questions

319

17.

Thoughts About Jail

332

18.

Pollsmoor

344

19.

Last Steps to Freedom

362

20.

A Crime Against Humanity

377

 

PART III: THE -END OF THE LONG WALK

 

21.

Going Home

389

22.

Our Brave New World

406

 

Epilogue

415

 

Select Bibliography

421

 

Sample Page


No Bread For Mandela: Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada

Item Code:
NAJ627
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2008
Publisher:
National Book Trust, India
ISBN:
9788123752013
Language:
English
Size:
8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Pages:
465 (8 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 550 gms
Price:
$20.00   Shipping Free
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Foreword by Nelson Mandela

 

Ahmed Kathrada has been so much part of my life over such a long period that it is inconceivable that I could allow him to 'write his memoirs without me contributing something, even if only through a brief foreword. Our stories have become so interwoven that the telling of one without the voice. of the other being heard somewhere would have led to an incomplete narrative.

 

Kathy's contribution to our liberation struggle and to our movement is well known and well documented. His courage and his commitment to his comrades are legendary. His mature wisdom was an important ingredient of our deliberations and discussions.

 

What further distinguished him was that he, together with a few other comrades, was an important depository of organisational memory. It is important that the history of our struggle and of our movement be recorded as fully and with all the different perspectives and nuances. Kathy was always analysing and trying to understand, even while he was an active participant.

 

After our release from prison he, characteristically, became involved in archival, historical and legacy projects about the liberation movement. Few others have spent as much time and energy on tracing and finding the masses of files and other material from the police and prison authorities, providing a rich base for future research and writing. He was instrumental in establishing and driving the Robben Island Museum project.

 

It is fitting that he now writes his own memoirs, giving us all the benefit of his remarkable memory about events and periods in which he was actively and centrally involved.

 

I, for one, look forward to reading his memoirs. He had been of so much assistance to me in the writing of my own. I am eager to read his independent version of the events and times that we shared.

 

Preface

 

These memoirs serve to fulfil a promise I made to myself while I was in prison. It was prompted by the dearth of information on important events in liberation history, and the realisation that much, if not most, of what had been published in books, newspapers and magazines was incomplete or riddled with error and distortion.

 

Circumstances placed me in the unique position of having uninterrupted access to the memory of my comrade and mentor, Waiter Sisulu, who was acknowledged as the living authority on the subject.

 

This book is by no means an effort to fill the void. Far from it. It would be presumptuous of me to even think so. My memoirs make no claim to being a documented history, nor is this my autobiography, both of which would demand serious research and qualified writers.

 

This volume is no more than what I remember, from my childhood, through the years of the struggle in which I was one of thousands of participants, my prison. years, and the ushering in of democracy. Naturally, there has been some reference to books and libraries, largely in attempts to confirm some of my hazier recollections, but this is not an academic book, nor was it intended to be.

 

I came out of prison at the age of sixty, having spent almost half of my adult life behind bars. In compiling my memoirs, I tried to resist the (understandable) temptation to overplay my prison experience by placing it in context between my rural childhood and political events that preceded the Rivonia Trial, and those that happened twenty-six years later.

 

Any account of life behind bars must needs include stereotypical images of forbidding grey walls and barred windows, austere, cold cells, inedible food and inhumane punishment, manifold deprivation and man-made efforts to strip one of all dignity and self-respect.

 

My experience was no different, but the picture of political prisoners was one of 'great warmth, fellowship and friendship, humour and laughter; of strong convictions and a generosity of spirit and compassion, solidarity and care. It is a picture of continuous learning, of getting to know and live with your fellow beings, their strengths as well as their idiosyncrasies; but more important, where one comes to know one's self, one's weaknesses, inadequacies and potential. Unbelievably, it is a very positive, confident, determined yes, even a happy community,"

 

In 1993, I was invited to open the Robben Island Exhibition organised by the Mayibuye Centre. My concluding remarks were: 'While we will not forget the brutalities 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 the 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.'

 

This remains the message that the Robben Island Museum Council and its staff try to convey through all our activities, publications and personal interaction with the public.

 

Contents

 

 

Foreword by Nelson Mandela

ix

 

Foreword by Arthur Chaskalson

xi

 

Preface

xiii

 

Acknowledgements

xv

 

Abbreviations

xvii

 

Prologue

xix

 

PART I: EARLY LIFE OF A 'SABOTEUR'

 

1.

A Boy from Schweizer

3

2.

The Dadoo Factor

14

3.

Awareness Deepens

30

4.

A Luta Continua

60

5.

Oppression Knows No Boundaries

82

6.

Defiance

92

7.

Congress of the People, Permits and Prison

105

8.

We Stand By Our Leaders

120

9.

High Roads and Low Ebbs

147

 

PART II: ANOTHER TERRAIN OF THE STRUGGLE

 

10.

The Rivonia Trial

171

11.

Outpost of Oppression

209

12.

Islands in Time

245

13.

The Bad Years

265

14.

By Stealth and Subterfuge

279

15.

Changing Times

305

16.

Leading Questions

319

17.

Thoughts About Jail

332

18.

Pollsmoor

344

19.

Last Steps to Freedom

362

20.

A Crime Against Humanity

377

 

PART III: THE -END OF THE LONG WALK

 

21.

Going Home

389

22.

Our Brave New World

406

 

Epilogue

415

 

Select Bibliography

421

 

Sample Page


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