Centenary of Gandhi’s historic march celebrated in South Africa

August 17th, 2008 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni
By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, Aug 16 (IANS) India’s Culture and Tourism Minister Ambika Soni Saturday joined South African dignitaries in leading hundreds of people young and old to commemorate the centenary of a historic march undertaken by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi had led a peaceful protest against a law asking all Indians and Chinese to carry registration certificates with them, and hundreds had publicly burnt such documents following him.

Soni, wearing a specially prepared orange commemorative T-shirt as all the other marchers over her sari, chatted with many young scholars who had joined the march after they first watched films on the life and times of the Mahatma.

“I have come on this pilgrimage for two days to say thank you for giving India its leader who led us to freedom,” Soni told the large crowd gathered at the Hamidia Mosque before she, her South African counterpart Pallo Jordan, and African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe led hundreds in symbolically burning copies of original registration certificates in a bonfire.

“Thank you for giving us Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - not the lawyer, advocate and barrister who came to South Africa to fight the cases of the Indian community; but thank you for giving us Mahatma Gandhi.”

The march was one of a series of events jointly organised by the Gandhi Centenary Committee, headed by Gandhi’s great-granddaughter Kirti Menon; the Indian High Commission in South Africa and a number of local cultural and academic institutions.

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