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Podcast: Ahmed Kathrada Reflects on Nelson Mandela's Speech at the Rivonia Trial

MandelaSunday 20 April marked the 50th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s speech at the Rivonia Trial as Accused Number One. Talk Radio 702‘s David O’Sullivan spoke to Mandela’s friend and co-accused Ahmed Kathrada about what it was like to be there for the iconic speech.

Kathrada, who recently wrote the foreword to Mandela: A Film and Historical Companion, says that they went into the trial expecting the worst: “During those 90 days the only visitors we had were the police and they came with one message only: ‘Give us this information or you’re going to hang’. So when we got to the trial itself after three months the expectation was death.”

O’Sullivan and Kathrada discuss how Mandela’s closing line (“But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”) was a legal point that their lawyer George Bizos made sure was included in the speech.

 

eNCA have shared Mandela’s speech in full:

I am the First Accused. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for a number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961.

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