Yadhana Jadoo
Political Editor
1 minute read
17 Jul 2015
10:30 am

Humility is the essence of volunteerism – Kathrada

Yadhana Jadoo

Humility is the essence of volunteerism, the late Madiba's fellow inmate of 26 years, Ahmed Kathrada, says.

Ahmed Kathrada Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

“Humility is an individual characteristic. You can’t tell a person to be humble. That comes as you grow up. Many who are in leadership positions cannot be arrogant. If you want to work with ordinary people you have to be humble,” Kathrada says.

“You can’t think of yourself as a superior person. You have to be at the level of the people with whom you are working.” This was the characteristic of Nelson Mandela’s leadership in their fight for a democratic SA.

“Not for a moment did they think they were lawyers and doctors. They worked as ordinary volunteers and went out to the people.” Kathrada recalls when he was president, Mandela handed half his salary to unfortunate children. Kathrada, who turns 86 next month, says Mandela was a dedicated volunteer.

“One recalls the Defiance Campaign of 1952, where Mandela was appointed volunteer-in-chief. In fulfilling his responsibility he travelled the country, organising resistance to discriminatory legislation.”

A strong history of volunteerism formed the true basis of the liberation struggle. Kathrada wants South Africans to not only care about the homeless and hungry. “We need to find ways of working towards eradicating these problems.”

As part of his 67 minutes, Kathrada has signed off 200 certificates for volunteers of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Operation Winter Warm campaign over the weekend of June 27-28. Most of the volunteers were youths.