One of Nelson Mandela�۪s closest friends and former Robben Island prisoner, Ahmed Kathrada, is to receive the prestigious Founders Award at The Asian Awards to take place on 4th April 2014 in London. Previous recipients of Asian Awards include the legendary Ravi Shankar, Sir Ben Kingsley, Professor Muhammad Yunus and singer Asha Bhosle.
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 Kathrada first met other struggle leaders, 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 Kathrada and other underground leaders had been holding secret meetings which led to the famous ‘Rivonia Trial’, in which Nelson Mandela, Sisulu, Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour.
In total Kathrada spent 26 years and 3 months in prison with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni before being released 6 months prior to the release of the late great Nelson Mandela. Upon his release, Mandela began the challenging task of uniting the nation and preparing for the first democratic government of South Africa with Kathrada as his political advisor. Kathrada remained a colleague and close personal friend of Mandela right up to his passing in December 2013.
On deciding the choice of this year’s Founders Award, Founder Paul Sagoo 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 3 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.�
A host of stars, business leaders and politicians will attend The Asian Awards, hosted by Lord Sebastian Coe, which celebrates the outstanding achievements of individuals born in or with direct family origin from all of Asia across all disciplines of life. The Asian Awards were an ambitious idea conceived by Paul Sagoo, entrepreneur and founder of the Lemon Group ���Our goal was to celebrate the highest calibre of individuals from the global Asian community across all spheres of activity,� said Sagoo. ���This year is no different and we continue to raise the bar of the event each year�.