‘Youth need to take lessons from Gandhi and Luthuli’

September 18th, 2008 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiDurban, Sep 18 (IANS) The youth of the world need to learn from the message of peace that both Mahatma Gandhi and Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Chief Albert Luthuli espoused, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and African National Congress President Jacob Zuma reaffirmed here Thursday.The two were the chief guests at the launch of the Gandhi-Luthuli Chair of Peace Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

“This chair will go a long way towards ensuring that the younger generation remains connected to our shared histories of oppression and the fight for freedom,” Sharma said.

“Gandhi and Luthuli both challenged the might of those who believed that they could never be vanquished, and it was here that Gandhi forged the potent tool of Satyagraha,” Sharma reminded the audience about the Indian leader’s tenure as a young lawyer in South Africa at the turn of the last century.

“We hope that the youth will learn to cherish the values and principles of non-violence through the lessons of the past,” Zuma said during his address.

Named after two of the world’s greatest leaders who espoused peace as a solution to counter oppression and racism, Mahatma Gandhi and Chief Albert Luthuli, the Chair aims to commemorate the memory of the many people who gave their lives in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

With the focus on post-graduate research, the Chair will encourage debate on issues around human rights, philosophy, language, history and morality in civil society.

“There are many untold stories of the struggle (in both India and South Africa) that still need to be told through thorough research,” Zuma said.

Both Zuma and Sharma also emphasized the need for peace and the eradication of poverty to achieve this.

“We cannot have islands of affluence amidst oceans of poverty,” Anand said.

Zuma added that during his recent visit to India, he had signed on behalf of the ANC a memorandum of understanding with Indian National Congress leader Sonia Gandhi that placed great emphasis on co-operation between their countries on issues of poverty, youth and women.

“This collaboration is but one of the pattern of progressive participation and of rich comradeship between India and South Africa,” Zuma added.

The Chair is the result of a decade of discussion between the University and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations via the successive Indian-Consul-Generals here.

Current Consul-General Harsh Vardhan Shringla called the establishment of the position a great example of the cooperation between India and South Africa: “It focuses on the areas of peace and non-violence that underpin the historical and ideological nature of the relationship.”

UKZN Vice-Chancellor Prof Malegapuru Makgoba said the Chair creates an opportunity to further meet “the growing demand for a relevant curriculum of African-Asian Studies at UKZN.”

“Both Gandhi and Luthuli taught us the principles of uBuntu (in Africa) and Ahimsa - tolerance, compassion and equity, and the Chair will help students achieve this.”

The first incumbent of the Chair will be Prof John Moolakkattu, who has had extensive experience in India of Gandhian, peace and development studies.

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