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A Simple Freedom: The Strong Mind of Robben Island Prisoner No. 468/64

by Ahmed Kathrada with Tim Couzens introduction by Nelson Mandela

Availablecloth$29.95s 978-0-8131-6726-8
146 pages  Pubdate: 03/18/2016  6.1 x 7.1  32 color photos, 34 b&w photos

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In June 1964, South Africa’s most visible antiapartheid activists were sentenced to life in prison in the infamous Rivonia Trial. These men included Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Denis Goldberg, and, the youngest of the group, Ahmed Kathrada—or “Kathy,” as he was called by his friends. Kathrada spent the better part of the next three decades imprisoned on Robben Island, enduring lengthy stays in solitary confinement, frequent abuse from the guards, and the desperation of “a life stripped bare” within the walls of the prison.

During his confinement, Kathrada struggled to occupy his mind, often turning to literature to find solace. Drawing from the prison library’s meager book collection, he recorded quotations he considered inspiring and profound, jotting down proverbs, poetry, excerpts from newspapers, and passages from books and magazines. A Simple Freedom seamlessly weaves this material together with Kathrada’s own words describing the 1964 verdict, life in the prison, and his friendships with other activists who shared his fate. Evocatively illustrated with photographs depicting the realities of life on Robben Island, this important, poignant book offers an intimate look at how one of the world’s most well-known political activists lived day to day as Prisoner No. 468/64.

Lifelong activist Ahmed Kathrada worked with various antiapartheid organizations during the 1940s and ‘50s. Upon his release from Robben Island prison in 1989, he continued his fight for justice, serving in South Africa’s new government alongside Nelson Mandela. He is the author of No Bread for Mandela: Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada, Prisoner No. 468/64.

Tim Couzens is the author of four books, including Murder at Morija: Faith, Mystery, and Tragedy on an African Mission.

A lyrical testament to human struggle against political incarceration by one of Nelson Mandela’s closest colleagues. The book is a special combination of vivid illustrations and proverbs, aphorisms, poetry and drama extracts, together with short passages from literature and newspapers, reflecting deep philosophical introspection and enormous experience in the cathartic struggle for freedom in South Africa against an immoral system. -- Peter Limb, editor of A. B. Xuma: Autobiography and Selected Works