The dawn of democracy in South Africa brought a new spotlight on the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi, who came to be celebrated with a “universal embrace”, the Indian envoy said in Johannesburg.
Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam made the remarks at a ceremony in Johannesburg to release a new coffee-table book that documents the rise in interest among South Africans in Gandhi’s role in the country’s democracy after Nelson Mandela became its first democratically-elected President.
Gandhi had become a renowned leader in South Africa in opposing the discriminatory laws of the time, particularly against the Indian community but the apartheid government did not recognise his efforts, said journalist Fakir Hassen, who has authored “101 Gandhian Inspirations” released on June 20.
“Indeed the dawn of democracy in South Africa (in 1990) brought a new spotlight on the life and times of the Mahatma in South Africa. He came to be celebrated with a universal embrace,” she said, adding the new wave of public acknowledgment of the great leader’s role was sparked particularly by comments made by the late President Mandela.
Hassen said his book is a collection of articles and pictures by him done over the past two decades of diverse state and private Gandhian activities.
Commenting on the book, Gandhi’s granddaughter Ela Gandhi, who continues to run the Phoenix Settlements started by Gandhi during his tenure in Durban, said in a message read at the launch that the book “certainly is not laborious reading and yet captures the essence of what Gandhiji said and who he was.”
Guest speaker from the UK, Mohamed Keshavjee, winner of the 2016 Gandhi-King-Ikeda Prize, said the book “captures our connection with one of the greatest icons of the 20th century through our own sentiments emanating from our hearts and recording our inner feelings as we understand them”.