COMMEMORATION OF THE 125th YEAR OF THE HISTORIC INCIDENT AT PIETERMARITZBURG STATION, SOUTH AFRICA
HIGH COMMISSION OF INDIA
The High Commission of India, South Africa with the support of the Indian Ministries of External Affairs and Culture, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Memorial Committee will be hosting a series of events on 6-7 June 2018 at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to commemorate the 125thanniversary of the birth of Satyagraha. The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj will be the Distinguished Guest from India for this important commemoration.
On 7 June 2018, Smt. Sushma Swaraj will inaugurate a special two-sided bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station. As well, she will inaugurate a Digital Museum on Mahatma Gandhi. She will also jointly release commemorative stamps on Indian and ANC stalwarts, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and OR Tambo, as well as release commemorative coins on Mahatma Gandhi. Her Address to the audience on this occasion will focus on the relevance of Gandhiji and his message of peace and non-violence in today’s world.
A South African dignitary will similarly speak to the special significance of the commemoration. The Indian and South African dignitaries will also jointly release a Coffee Table Book on Mahatma Gandhi which encapsulates quotes by world leaders and eminent personalities on the relevance of Gandhiji’s message of peace in the 21stCentury.
An event highlight will include a re-enactment of the historic train journey undertaken by Gandhiji 125 years ago on the morning of 7 June 2018, with the support of a local cast of actors. The train will be draped in Khadi, especially imported from the Khadi and Village Industries Commission India, and as a mark of respect to Mahatma Gandhi who had in the early 20th century started a nationalist movement for home spun cotton cloth in reaction to foreign imposed fabric, sold at exorbitant rates.
The two-day commemoration activities will also include a Youth Summit on 6 June 2018 where 20 diaspora youth from Africa and 5 from India will be especially flown to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to speak on the relevance of Gandhiji’s message of peace to the youth of today. The Gandhi-Mandela Youth Summitis expected to conclude with the adoption of a Resolution.
There will also be a mini Film Festival on Gandhiji at Pietermaritzburg on 6-7 June, featuring among others the Oscar winning film, Gandhi by Richard Attenborough, all of which will be screened free of cost for the public. Finally, the commemoration will also include an Address by the External Affairs Minister of India at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on the evening of 6 June 2018, made historic also by Mahatma Gandhi who had addressed the venue over 100 years ago in 1912.
The Pietermaritzburg City Hall and Station as well as the Gandhi Statue at Church Street, will be lit up in national colours on 6 June 2018 as a mark of respect to the Father of the Indian Nation.
Background: On the 7thof June, 1893, Mohandas K. Gandhi a young lawyer was discriminated for the colour of his skin and removed from a 1stclass rail compartment at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He spent the entire night in the railway station waiting room introspecting. By early next morning he had decided that he would stay back in South Africa to fight against this injustice. This waiting room was the birthplace of Satyagraha.
2019 will be the 150thBirth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi which will be commemorated in India over a 2-year period, spotlighting the relevance of Gandhiji’s message in modern times. The 125thAnniversary celebrations of the birth of Satyagraha at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa provides a vital link to the 150thBirth Anniversary celebrations of Gandhiji, to be commemorated in India from 2018-2020.
Issued by : The High Commission of India, Pretoria
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