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 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. He had only intended to spend a year in South Africa, but the racial discrimination he experienced on that train journey was so formative that he stayed for 20 years.
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 7-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.
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Fordsburg Community Information Centre
Tel: +27 (0)11 838 9326
Cell: +27 (0) 82 581 0735