Goodbye Uncle Kathy from Catherine Constantinides

Catherine Constantinides and South African icon Ahmed Kathrada fondly known as Uncle Kathy.


Catherine Constantinides, international climate and human rights activist and executive director of Miss Earth South Africa, writes a letter to the late Ahmed Kathrada:

Where do I even begin to describe how much you meant to me?

Words fail to adequately describe my love, respect and admiration for you, my dearest K. Not only were you a man I deeply respected, a freedom fighter and iconic South African, but I had the privilege to call you my dearest friend.

As I think back at the beautiful box of memories, moments and deep conversations shared with you, I am comforted by the time we got to spend together. I am comforted by the fact that your strength, conviction and bravery has left a great legacy and a lifetime of lessons for us all.

Over the past few years, you continued to stand tall, always striving for a better South Africa, always deeply invested in ensuring you did all you could to help us build a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa, and we will never forget how you stood up and spoke truth to power, especially at a time when we needed it most. Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for being a living example of the ideals you fought so hard for.

Read Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral at West Park Cemetery was more than just a goodbye

You have left us with an immense responsibility. It is now for us to ensure that we continue to fight for our human rights as an engaged and active part of our society, one which fights against the injustices of today. In fact, the greatest honour to your memory and legacy is to be brave and bold as we stand up and hold our leadership to account. Holding your principles and values up high, calling out leaders and unashamedly standing for what is right, which is not easy.

Our trip together to Robben Island a little over two years ago is a time and place etched into my mind forever. You walked me through history as you shared with me your struggle, the heartache, treasured memories with your dear friend, Tata and others. I will carry that very time with me forever. Standing in Tata Mandela’s cell with you as you unpacked the horrific conditions of those 26 years, I was overwhelmed with emotion and remember thinking that here is a giant of a man, so humble, so gentle and filled with such compassion and love.

My devoted love and thoughts at this very difficult time to Barbara, my dearest Zohra, the extended family, Neeshan and the team at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

I will carry you in my heart forever.

Rest in peace, my darling friend.

Edited by Stacey Woensdregt

Do you have any memories of Uncle Kathy? Share your stories with us on the Sandton Chronicle Facebook page.

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