Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Mandela calls for Gandhi’s non-violence approach

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela joined top leaders, Nobel laureates and elder statesmen on Monday in calling on the world to reinvent Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent approach to solving conflicts.

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting white rule before leading South Africa to multiracial democracy as the country’s first black president in 1994, said Gandhi’s non-violent approach, which won India freedom from British colonial rule 60 years ago, is an inspiration.

”His philosophy contributed in no small measure to bringing about a peaceful transformation in South Africa and in healing the destructive human divisions that had been spawned by the abhorrent practice of apartheid,” said Mandela.

The 88-year-old statesman was addressing a conference, through a satellite link from South Africa, to mark the centenary of Gandhi’s ”satyagraha” or non-violent movement, which began in Johannesburg on September 11 1906, where Gandhi was practising law. Gandhi lived in South Africa from 1893 to 1914, where he was an active and high-profile political activist.

Referring to him as ”the sacred warrior”, Mandela said the Mahatma combined ethics and morality with a steely resolve that refused to compromise with the oppressor, the British Empire. ”In a world driven by violence and strife, Gandhi’s message of peace and non-violence holds the key to human survival in the 21st century, said Mandela.

”He rightly believed in the efficacy of pitting the sole force of the satyagraha against the brute force of the oppressor and in effect converting the oppressor to the right and moral point.”

Gandhi is revered by many around the world for his tolerance and peaceful approach that led millions of Indians to refuse to comply with colonial law, eventually forcing Britain to leave India after about 300 years of occupation.

Sonia Gandhi, president of Indian National Congress that leads the ruling coalition, joined Mandela and calls by former Polish president Polish Lech Walesa, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and Bangladesh Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus to promote Gandhi’s values.

She told the 400 delegates, who included heads of government, senior officials, religious leaders and parliamentarians, that the end of the Cold War had not seen peace as was hoped for.

It is natural to question whether Gandhi’s philosophy is feasible in today’s world, but it is possible to use it a as tool and adapt to conflict resolution, she said.

”It would be a grave error to write-off the Gandhian approach as irrelevant to our age,” she said. — Reuters

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Police identify 300 high risk areas during local government elections

Police minister Bheki Cele said they have identified the KZN, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces as high risk areas deploying a high contingent of police and SANDF

Sudanese stand ground against coup as condemnation pours in

On Monday soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, his ministers and civilian members of Sudan's ruling council, who have been heading a transition to full civilian rule

Cliff and Steenhuisen are wrong. Here’s why race matters in...

Both the podcast host and the leader of the Democratic Alliance believe in a toothless non-racialism that ignores the historical foundation of racism and the pain it inflicts in the present

Mission implausible for the DA’s man in Nkandla

Malibongwe Dubazane is contesting all 14 of the IFP-run Nkandla local municipality’s wards

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…