Ahmed Kathrada, one of Nelson Mandela’s closest friends and former Robben Island prisoner will receive the prestigious Founders Award at The Asian Awards in London on 4th April 2014.
Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada (or 'Kathy', as he is popularly known) was born on 21st August 1929 in a small rural South African town, about 200 miles from Johannesburg. In the 1940s Mr Kathrada met other South African struggle leaders including Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, I C Meer and J N Singh.
In July 1963, the police swooped on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, a Johannesburg suburb where Mr Kathrada and other underground leaders had been holding secret meetings.
This led to the famous 'Rivonia Trial', in which Mr Mandela, Mr Sisulu, Mr Kathrada, Mr Govan Mbeki, Mr Raymond Mhlaba, Mr Denis Goldberg, Mr Elias Motsoaledi and Mr Andrew Mlangeni were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour.
Mr Kathrada spent 26 years and three months in prison with Mr Sisulu, Mr Mhlaba and Mr Mlangeni. He was released six months prior to the release of Mr Mandela.
Upon his release, Mr Mandela began the challenging task of uniting the nation and preparing for the first democratic government of South Africa with Mr Kathrada as his political advisor.
Mr Kathrada remained a colleague and close personal friend of Mr Mandela right up to his passing in December 2013.
On deciding the choice of this year's Founders Award, Paul Sagoo, the Founder of The Asian Awards said: “I had known the story of Ahmed Kathrada and his sacrifices for the anti-apartheid movement since my student days and had been inspired by him. We did in fact notify Mr Kathrada of his honour three months prior to Madiba’s passing. Since then the whole story has come to life not just in the real world but in Cinema too. We are extremely honoured that Mr Kathrada will be the recipient of this year’s Founder’s Award, no doubt he is the greatest living person to receive an honour from The Asian Awards.”
Previous recipients of Asian Awards include the legendary Ravi Shankar, Sir Ben Kingsley, Professor Muhammad Yunus and singer Asha Bhosle.
The Asian Awards celebrates the outstanding achievements of individuals born in or with direct family origin from all of Asia across all disciplines of life.
The event to be hosted by Lord Sebastian Coe, will be attended by a host of stars, business leaders and politicians.