There could be no greater honour than gifting that person the love and gratitude from all Joburg's residents.
Instead of blowing out all 83 candles on his birthday this Tuesday, 21 August, respected struggle icon and the youngest Rivonia Trialist, Ahmed Mohammed "Kathy" Kathrada, will have millions of Joburg residents singing him a special song.
On this day, the city will bestow its highest honour on Kathrada by granting him the freedom of the city of gold.
Kathrada will join four venerable leaders and anti-apartheid veterans Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude, Joe Slovo and Nelson Mandela who have all been bestowed this honour.
Hundreds of specially invited guests will converge on the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto, to witness Kathrada receive the honour, which includes an insignia and a 9 carat gold medallion from Executive Mayor Parks Tau during a special council sitting.
A resolution was passed be the city council on April 26 to grant Kathrada the Freedom of the City which was unanimously approved. The council considered a request by ANC stalwart Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as chair of the board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, for the city to recognise the anti-apartheid veteran.
Council's Chief Whip, Prema Naidoo, said the honour is bestowed on residents who have contributed towards the creation of a non-racial and non-sexist society.
"Kathrada still plays an active role through his foundation, which is focused on nation building and the creation of a society free of any form of discrimination. He particularly enjoys talking to young people on the vision of a free and democratic South Africa," Naidoo said.
"This honour is recognition of the fact that without the sheer commitment, determination, efforts and sacrifice of people such as Kathrada, South Africa would not be enjoying the freedom it now celebrates. Furthermore, Johannesburg would have been a different city – a city struggling to gain legitimacy among the vast majority of its residents as well as internationally."
Kathrada arrived in Joburg from Schweizer-Reneke in 1937 at the age of eight. He fought against discrimination on the streets of Fordsburg, holding ANC meetings in his flat in Kholvad House in the city centre, organising the adoption of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown and planning at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia.
He continues to be an ambassador for Joburg locally through his interactions with local communities and internationally in his talks on the progress made in turning it and the rest of South Africa into a better place for all.
Kathrada is freeman of Joburg
Honour for Rivonia trialists