The Gandhi Memorial, Johannesburg
Did you know?
Mahatma Gandhi was the first lawyer of colour to be admitted to the Supreme Court in South Africa.
The Gandhi Memorial, also known as Burning Truth, is found outside the Hamidia Mosque in the Johannesburg suburb of Fordsburg.
Created by Usha Seejarim, this South African memorial to Mahatma Gandhi depicts a cauldron, symbolic of the one to which he led protestors on 16 August 1908 to burn registration cards as part of his passive resistance campaign.
Gandhi was born in India and studied law in London. In 1893 he headed for the British colony of Natal to take up a position as an advisor to a Durban law firm.
Here, arrangements had been made for him to travel by train to Pretoria to observe a trial but he was not permitted to occupy a first class seat and spent the night at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg. This formative incident spurred him on to develop his philosophy of passive resistance.
In 1894 he founded the Natal Indian Congress, which later would be at the forefront of the Freedom Struggle in South Africa. At first it utilised passive resistance, but when this proved inadequate he reformulated it into Satyagraha, Sanskrit for ‘truth and firmness'.
In 1903 he began the weekly Indian Opinion that focused on issues affecting this marginalised section of the community. He organised strikes and led marches to protest the Immigration Act compelling registration of Indian immigrants.The registration cards the immigrants were forced to carry came under intense scrutiny.
While spearheading a seven-year campaign of strikes and burning of registration cards, Gandhi was jailed on a number of occasions. While the government was able to quell this resistance violently, their methods caused an outcry which forced it to negotiate concessions with him. Conditional on this, though, was his leaving the country and he returned to India in 1914.
But his stay here is not forgotten as the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial attests.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Fordsburg Community Information Centre
Tel: +27 (0)11 838 9326
Cell: +27 (0) 82 581 0735
How to get here
The Gandhi Memorial is located outside the Hamidia Mosque in the central Johannesburg suburb of Fordsburg. It is on many main bus and taxi routes, and is easily accessible by car.
Best time to visit
The memorial is open all year round.
Around the area
Fordsburg is part of the greater Newtown Cultural Precinct and boasts a number of attractions, including Museum Africa and the Oriental Plaza market.
Length of stay
An hour or so for the memorial itself but a full day if you want to explore the surrounding area of Fordsburg and the nearby Newtown Cultural Precinct.
Where to stay
Johannesburg has a numerous quality establishments ranging from budget B&Bs to luxury hotels.
What to eat
Fordsburg is an Indian-dominated suburb so the food in the area is both delicious and cheap. There are many excellent restaurants in the area.
High-quality fabrics - including silk - at bargain prices at the Oriental Plaza.