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Human rights

Ahmed "Kathy" Kathrada: A South African Activist for Non-Racialism and Democracy

Nelson Mandela's prison mate, confidante, parliamentary counselor and friend Ahmed Kathrada is the subject of a new nationally touring exhibition. "Ahmed 'Kathy' Kathrada: A South African Activist for Non-Racialism and Democracy tells the story of the renowned advocate for freedom, as well as the anti-apartheid movement itself through the life and work of South Africa's beloved "Kathy." Kathy's exemplary leadership continues to inspire South Africans and others around the world to work for freedom, non-racialism, and democracy.

Ahmed Mohammed Kathrada (or 'Kathy' as he is popularly known) was born in 1929 to Indian immigrants in a rural town in South Africa. Kathy was only 12 when he began a life of tireless activism for non-racialism and democracy. He was arrested several times and, along with eight friends and fellow activists including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, he was sentenced at the famous Rivonia Treason Trial to life imprisonment. He spent 26 years in prison, eighteen of which were on Robben Island.

In 1989 Kathy was released from prison and, in 1994, in the new democratic South African government, he was elected to the South African Parliament and served as President Mandela's Parliamentary Counselor. Kathy is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, is a prolific author, and, while in prison, earned four university degrees.

This powerful exhibition includes a series of colorful flexible free-standing panels and banners featuring photographs, images of documents, and extended quotes from Kathrada and his liberation colleagues. One of the more moving and dramatic elements of the exhibit is a replica of Kathy's jail cell, from the notorious Robben Island prison. Visitors are able to experience the tiny cell and see the few personal items Kathy was allowed for more than 20 years of imprisonment. In addition, to these elements, there is a 6 minute video with interviews with Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid liberation leaders and world leaders. Related educational materials and a handout customizable for each venue are also available.

Originally developed by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation based in South Africa with support from the Mandela Foundation, this expanded U.S. Traveling version was supported by the University of Kentucky and Michigan State University (MSU Museum, Office of Outreach and Engagement, and Office of the President).


No current bookings. This exhibit is available.

This exhibition has been displayed at the following sites: Lafferty Hall, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; The Lyric Theatre, Lexington, KY; The University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and Boston, MA; and the MSU Museum, East Lansing, MI.

  Rental fee (12 week period) $5,000, plus shipping
  Number of pieces: 12 free standing panels, 3 free standing banners, 1 small building
  Running feet required: 1400 square feet
  Insurance Value: $40,000
  Security requirement: Lockable, limited access display area; trained guards or comparable protection system; provisions to prevent public from touching objects; object handling by museum professionals; temperature and light controls; fire protection according to local ordinances
  Additional materials available: Press materials.
Photo of Ahmed 'Kathy' Katnrada signing books

Ahmed 'Kathy' Kathrada

Photo of introductory panel

Exhibit panel




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