Gandhi Heritage

In a test of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s reputation and approval rating in South Africa, a motion to remove the name and statue of the Indian leader from the city centre was debated in recent weeks by the Johannesburg City Council, the country’s largest municipality. The motion called for the removal of the bronze statue at Gandhi Square — sculpted by Tinka Christopher, it depicts Gandhi as a young activist lawyer in his legal gown — and the re-naming of the site after Sophie de Bruyn, a well-known anti-apartheid activist.

September was Heritage Month but here I was in October invited to spend a weekend at Kedar Heritage Lodge to join the celebrations for the unveiling of a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill. Why October? Why Churchill in the Bushveld? Then I remembered. Kedar is a modern reincarnation of President Kruger’s farm and country estate, Boekenhoutfontein (meaning Beech-wood Spring). Now located in the Northwest Province, it was once a jewel in the Transvaal Republic.

Satyagraha House is one of Johannesburg's iconic heritage venues. Back in 2009, before its transformation into a museum and guest house, it belonged to the Ball family who after almost thirty years of ownership decided to put it on the market. In the article below, Lucille Davie highlights Gandhi's connection to Johannesburg and the house. She also reveals some of the Ball family's memories and their feelings leading up to the sale.

Gandhi and Mandela both began their crusades against injustice in Johannesburg, a city where historic buildings and places still map their journeys towards liberation. Half a century before the young Mandela's political history began in earnest, Gandhi launched his struggle, developing his technique of satyagraha (passive resistance or 'truth force'). Both men started out as lawyers for the downtrodden.

In the article below Kathy Munro, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, unpacks the layers of the wonderful friendship between Mohandas Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach. The piece was inspired by the unveiling of a statue of the two men in Rusne Lithuania in October 2015. Kathy also asks whether it is time for a similar statue to be created and unveiled in Johannesburg.

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