Did you know?
Mahatma Gandhi was first married at the age of 13.
He was a tiny man – thin and uncomplicated and always sporting those famous little round spectacles. However, the impact his tiny frame made on global social issues and politics is immense.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in British India in 1869 and died 79 years later in the Union of India. The rite of passage for humanitarian hero Mahatma Gandhi took him from an India that was ruled by the British Empire to a South Africa weighed down by prejudice and injustice.
He came to South Africa in 1893 after accepting a position at an Indian law firm. And it was here that he first truly recognised the enforced subordinate nature of the Indian community, in both his home country and South Africa.
The task that lay ahead was huge, but Gandhi firmly took many social injustices in both hands and tried to resolve them in a non-violent manner through mass civil disobedience.
He believed in 'respectful disagreement' and urged the South African Indian community not to resort to violence, but to make their voices heard by peacefully protesting against discrimination. Those who protested were beaten or jailed, and the ruthless manner in which the government controlled the Indian community made international headlines.
This led to negotiations between Gandhi and then-Prime Minister Jan Smuts. Humanitarian icon Mahatma Gandhi helped turn the South African Indian community into a potent political force.
This humanitarian icon was a unique character in South African and global history – Mahatma (which means 'Great Soul' in Sanskrit) could take on strong colonial forces without a weapon to hand, but was petrified of the dark. This didn't stop him from battling against – and triumphing – against some of the darkest forces in modern history.