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A Simple Freedom

A Simple Freedom

The Strong Mind of Robben Island Prisoner No. 468/64

by Ahmed Kathrada and Tim Couzens

Introduction by Nelson Mandela

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

146 Pages, 6.10 x 7.10 in, 32 color photos, 34 b&w photos

  • Hardcover
  • 9780813167268
  • Published: March 2016



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.