/ 31 July 2009

Gandhi SA home attracts flurry of potential buyers

Mahatma Gandhi’s former home in a quiet Johannesburg suburb has attracted a flurry of potential buyers from around the world, the current owner said on Friday.

Nancy Ball put the property on the market after struggling to find a buyer keen to preserve its heritage as the place where India’s spiritual and political icon temporarily called home.

Revealing to the public its famous former resident has seen a flurry of interest in the rare historical gem in the Orchards suburb.

“This house has become like Susan Boyle … There’s been a lot of interest from India and further,” she said, referring to the Scottish singer who recently gained instant fame in a talent show.

A civil rights activist who guided India’s independence movement, Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 and spent his early years here as a young lawyer, where racism and prejudice shaped his role as a social activist.

It was in Johannesburg where he adopted his satyagraha (devotion to the truth) approach, which involved the resistance of tyranny through mass civil disobedience, as opposed to aggressive revolution.

The Johannesburg residence up for sale was built by architect Hermann Kallenbach, Gandhi’s friend and confidant, and was his home on and off between 1908 and 1910.

Since then the house has been enlarged and modernised but Ball, an American artist, said she and her South African husband made a point of maintaining the spirit of the place since their arrival in 1981.

“If this house became a sort of a place that could be a monument in a way to his life here and a place where people coud come and meditate on his influence. There could be a library, a conference room … I would love to see that happen,” she said. — AFP