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Indian-origin Mandela aide pays tribute


Johannesburg, Dec 6: Indian-origin veteran anti-apartheid activist and aide of Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, who spent a substantial time with him in various South African jails, Friday paid tributes to the anti-apartheid hero after his passing away.

Kathrada spent 26 years in various South African jails with Mandela, and they called each other "Madala," meaning "old man".

Kathrada and Mandela had known each other for 67 years.

Kathrada has taken a pledge to join the people of South Africa and the world to perpetuate the ideals and values for which Mandela devoted his life.

"I never imagined I'd be witness to the unavoidable and traumatic reality of your passing," Kathrada said in a statement issued by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

"Your abundant reserves of love, simplicity, honesty, service, humility, care, courage, foresight, patience, tolerance, equality and justice continually served as a source of enormous strength to me and so many millions of people around the world," he said.

"I had the enviable privilege of being alive and walking the earth with you through bad times and good. It has been a long walk, with many challenges that at times seemed insurmountable. And yet we never faltered, and the strength of leaders like you and Walter always shone a light on the path and kept our destination and our people's future in view."

Kathrada said in the statement that after the death of the great political activist, he now feels bereft and lonely. He said he turned to Mandela for solace, comfort, and advice.

"While we may be drowned in sorrow and grief, we must be proud and grateful that after the long walk paved with obstacles and suffering, we can salute you as a fighter for freedom to the end," the statement said.

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