The trip to the dark and gloomy gallows reconnected me with a very important part of the South African liberation history, yet one I was never aware of before. When the warder-cum-tour guide took us around, explaining exactly what happened inside the gallows to condemned prisoners like Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, I felt short-changed that for the
longest while I had missed out on an opportunity to understand and appreciate my own history.

A few years ago, I recall how in the aftermath of the #RhodesMustFall movement, a major topic around the demolishing of statues and other symbolic monuments associated with apartheid be removed. Here I was, emotional as can be at the gallows, but appreciative that
sites such as these existed to help preserve our significant history. I for one am guilty of taking our democracy for granted every now and then.


I would admit that my perspective changed when I had to walk up the steps, all 52 of them, and try to figure out how condemned prisoners felt and possibly thought. I ask myself if I would have made the very same choices as those before me knowing what the consequences
of my resistance and activist would be.

In the same breath, I was reminded of why I was there, why I was part of the Kathrada Youth Club and was reminded of my burning desire to involve myself with servant activism. As a young person, I took the pledge to become a voice for the voiceless and refuse to be silent against all forms of injustice. My heart was shattered
to learn that the bodies of the executed men lay with no sense of dignity in pauper’s graves.

Some of the families had to wait for over 30 years just to find the remains of their loves ones. Climbing up the 52 steps could not have been easy knowing that your final destination awaits you at the top. We have a moral duty to ensure that the ultimate sacrifices by martyrs like Vuyisile Mini, Solomon Mahlangu and several never fall in vain.

With this in mind, we should all hang our heads in shame at the fact that corruption across different layers of government has become a norm in South Africa. We are constantly made aware of new and damning revelations of looting and the embezzlement of funds yet very little accountability.


The older generation of activists ought to be the ones with a better understand of what their fellow cadres endured just for us to get our freedom and democracy. Yet we are biting our own tails by dragging our gains down the drain. Self serving interests have taken priority over
those of the communities they ought to be serving. The Soweto Uprising in 1976 and bloodshed of its youth are a reminder to me that the struggle continues in different forms. I am inspired to take forward the legacy of Solomon and wish to continue the fight on behalf of all of the political prisoners as a young person who feels their pain. Inspired by the Kathrada
Foundation, we need to commit to making a difference one community at a time.


Sitting back and waiting for unknown salvation is just as horrific as turning a blind eye to the
corruption and maladministration that had become a norm some years ago. I take my hat off to the thousands of women who marched to the Union buildings as a strongstance against apartheid’s oppressive pass laws. The student-led #FeesMustFall protest saw activists gathering at the Union Buildings where lifelong activist Ahmed Kathrada lent his
support.

In 2021, I was proud to be upon those lawns where I reiterated my support for the Defend Our Democracy campaign. Our rich history will be overshadowed by all this corruption. What a complete shame that funds meant to assist as we struggle with Covid-19 were shamelessly swindled to benefitselfish pockets. As we shout slogans aligned to the legacies of Solomon Manhlangu and Hector Peterson let us remember them by honouring their sacrifices and safeguarding the ideals and visions they died for.
*Dudu Makhubo is a community activist from the Kathrada Youth Club in the Thembelihle informal settlement.

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ABOUT FOUNDATION

In pursuing its core objective
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the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
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and principles enshrined in the
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Republic of South Africa;

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