There was an atmosphere of mutual appreciation when Ahmed Kathrada visited the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday. Students said it was 'a true honour' to have the anti-apartheid stalwart on campus and that his support for their struggle meant a lot to them. For his part, Kathrada said he was 'very inspired by these students' spirit and discipline', and that 'it's because of this discipline that they will be successful'. By GROUNDUP STAFF.
Hundreds of University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) students took to the floor of Senate House, dubbed Solomon Mahlangu House, singing loudly upon the arrival of anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada on Thursday, 22 October.
Kathrada stood smiling quietly in a corner watching as students sang struggle songs. The student leadership talked about how the various memorandums being delivered to university managements across the country were this generation’s answer to the Freedom Charter. They emphasised the demand for free access to quality education.
While waiting to be joined by fellow protesting students from the University of Johannesburg, they sang and danced to celebrate Kathrada’s presence and many approached him to take photos and thank him for his support.
“It’s a true honour to have Mr Kathrada here,” said accounting student Ivy Ramakgopa. “He is one of the fathers of our freedom. So to have his support really means something. It is not just a political stunt.”
“I am very inspired by these students’ spirit and discipline,” Kathrada said. “It’s because of this discipline that they will be successful.”
Kathrada was reluctant to comment much on the role of the government, simply saying: “I am not part of government, but I encourage them to grant the students their very reasonable demands.” He fielded questions from media and met with students while lunch was served.
Meanwhile, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela wrote on her facebook page, “I will be joining my children in protest at Wits today, Rhodes [University] tomorrow and [Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University] on Friday. Let us see if the police will shoot with me in the front line. I dare them to.” DM