Mahatma Gandhi: A blessing to South Africa and the world.

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - JANUARY 30, 2015

Today, in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi, a man whose destiny had led him to the quintessence of a legend, was assassinated, ending his life in the wake of such accomplishment for the sake of humanity’s dignity.

Because of his life, a legacy will continue to live on, with the world sharing in its gratefulness towards such a man.

Of the many nations who have joined hands in remembering and honouring such an icon, South Africa holds a special place for the gentle soul whose love of peace would help unshackle the chains of oppression around the world.

Gandhi was born into an Indian merchant-caste family in 1869 before moving, as a young man, from his home in India to London, in 1888, to pursue a career as a lawyer.

He diligently pursued his studies, keeping his ambitions high in the hope of attaining his goal of academic success, and in 1891 was called to the Bar.

Now qualified, he briefly returned to India where he found India’s differing legal system particularly difficult to adapt to. It was at this realisation that the Southern tip of Africa had summoned him, as if fate itself were calling and preparing him for a greater purpose.

In 1893, Gandhi departed to South Africa where he was to work as a representative in a dispute whereby not only his expertise were required, but also his language, namely Gujarati, which was required in the context of the matter.

Upon arrival, the well-dressed and educated Gandhi was immediately exposed to a social structure of racial segregation and discrimination; a system which had had part of its foundation built upon the shoulders of Indian indentured servitude.

This deeply troubling reality would pave the road towards his activism, a road which would be extended in South Africa upon his now-famous Pietermaritzburg train experience of 1893.

In mid-1893, Gandhi was forcibly removed from a train in Pietermaritzburg for refusing to vacate the first-class carriage, despite having in his possession a valid ticket.

This event, as a plaque in the vicinity of the Pietermaritzburg Train Station clearly states, would change his life forever, leading him on a path that would keep him in South Africa for two decades (with intermittent trips to India and England).

Within these decades, the concept of Satyagraha would be born into a nation deeply in need of it; a concept which held peace and non-violence close by in its opposition to a system of injustice.

In 1914, he would return to India where his main objective would entail the independence of India as a nation.

A wave of civil disobedience, wrapped in Satyagraha, would follow Gandhi’s return to India, with  the now-iconic Salt March and “Quit India” campaign providing essence to its purpose; demonstrating their discontent with the Queen’s rule over the people of India.

Eventually, in 1947, India would receive its independence and the newly formed republic, which would officially come into existence in 1950, would forever be indebted to the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi.

The continent of Africa herself, having endured many hardships under colonial rule, would be inspired by the outcome in India in realising the domino effect of independence throughout Africa from the moment Gandhi’s beloved homeland was set free from the bondage of a terrible past.

 

Image courtesy of: www.msunduzi.gov.za