JOHANNESBURG: South African Tourism has launched a new "Gandhi- Inspired Tourist Attraction" project that identifies 13 places that were seminal in Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's tenure in the country.
"The Gandhi Inspired Tourist Attractions makes Mahatma's South Africa accessible to people who want to understand how this country shaped his conscience, his service to humanity and his great contribution to world history," said South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer Thulani Nzima.
Nzima was speaking at the launch of a project at Satyagraha House, a hotel which was once one of the homes Gandhi stayed in Johannesburg.
The guests at the hotel have the option of experiencing the simple lifestyle that Gandhi led or use more modern facilities at what is effectively a living museum.
Gandhi's 21 years in South Africa saw him develop his Satyagraha principles and lead locals to oppose racial discrimination in the country before he returned to India to lead his home country to independence from British Colonialism.
South African Tourism's Gandhi webpage was also launched at the event. The website gives comprehensive details of Gandhi-related sites across South Africa.
"I am sure that this initiative would now give Indian visitors to South Africa, and for that matter, even tourists from across the world - since Gandhi ji's legacy is not just for India but the world's - a ready guide to experience the sites in South Africa where Gandhi was transformed into the Mahatma or Great Soul," said Acting Indian High Commissioner Armstrong Changsan at the launch.
The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh had committed Rs 1 crore as an initial contribution during a visit a few months ago. The 13 Gandhian sites on the list are spread across three provinces.
They include the Old Court House Museum in Durban which contains a historic archive of Gandhi images, as well as the Pietermaritzburg Station where a statue now stands to mark the spot where Gandhi was thrown off a train because he was seated in a compartment reserved for white people only.
This incident sparked off his quest for equality and justice. In Ladysmith, the local Vishnu Temple has a Gandhi statue to commemorate his time as a volunteer stretcher-bearer during the Anglo-Boer War from 1899 to 1900.
Outside the Hamidia Mosque in Newtown, Johannesburg, a memorial depicts a symbolic cauldron to record Gandhi leading the burning in 1908 of pass books that all citizens who were not white were forced to carry at all times.
The home of South Africa's new Constitutional Court, built on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg where Gandhi and later Nelson Mandela were imprisoned, now has a permanent exhibition of both these great leaders.