The 2005 Gandhi Peace Award has been made to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced in Johannesburg on Monday.
It was in recognition of his contribution to society and political transformation, said the prime minister.
Tutu had shown ”truly Gandhian values”, he told dignitaries at Constitutional Hill at the opening of an exhibition chronicling Gandhi’s time in Johannesburg.
The exhibition, Gandhi, Prisoner of Conscience, illustrates how Gandhi’s time in the notorious ”native jail”, or section number four, impacted on his thinking.
Gandhi believed the physical suffering he endured would make him stronger and more determined in his moral cause.
Gandhi was imprisoned in South Africa and India for 2 338 days. He was in Johannesburg from 1902 to 1914.
The opening of the exhibition coincided with the 137th anniversary of his birth and the 100th anniversary of his establishment of his philosophy of Satyagraha, or passive resistance, in which followers resisted injustice in non-violent ways, demonstrating their superior morality.
Gandhi would have been ”elated” to see his aspirations of peace and reconciliation realised in the transformation of South Africa under the leadership of former president Nelson Mandela.
In the eyes of the world, the mantle of Gandhi seems to have ”descended” on Mandela, Singh said.
Welcoming Singh to the Constitutional Court, Chief Justice Pius Langa said it was an honour to reflect on the contribution Gandhi had made to South African society, particularly on the site where he was imprisoned for his political beliefs.
South Africa was on a journey, a quest to achieve truth and gentleness, said Langa.
”It had started off well, turning war weaponry into ploughshares; turning a place of incarceration into a symbol of freedom and protection of human rights.
”We see the footprints of this humble son of India, this great freedom fighter of our own country and we know that we are on the right track,” Langa said. — Sapa