THE SOUTH African delegation at the CMS Peace Summit has been looking for something more for loved ones back home than the usual gifts of clothes and spices. They’ve been picking up DVDs of the Sanjay Dutt-starer Lage Raho Munnabhai!
“Could you please write down the name of the movie for me,” pleaded Natasha Naidoo, a fourth generation South African of the Indian origin working with the International Criminal Court, Netherlands.
“Gandhi is still in the hearts and minds of the people of South Africa,” claimed Justice Kenneth Mthiyane of the SA Supreme Court of Appeals.
Like the Indians, the foreign delegation too, has been impressed by the theme of the Hindi blockbuster based on non-violence as propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. Though, the perception has changed a bit among the new generation, says Justice Mthiyane, adding that, today’s generation, of course, finds it difficult to turn the other cheek when slapped as Gandhi used to say.
However, he said the Mahatma’s teaching of non-violence was relevant for the people of South Africa. The Africans still recall with pride the Mahatma’s fight against racial discrimination and subsequent struggle for freedom in India had its roots in South Africa.
“Even the settlement established by the Mahatma for the people of different races still exists in Durban, he said. Fatima Chohan, Member of Parliament from South Africa said the Indians in South Africa are more South Africans than Indian. She said Gandhian ideals in South Africa were viewed more as messages of brotherhood and peace which were evident in the several small settlements of people of different races. Fatima’s ancestors were of Indian origin and she traced her roots to Gujarat.
Like in India, statues of the Mahatma dot South Africa too. “There is huge statue of the Mahatma at the tourist centre,” said Justice Kenneth Mthiyane, and there are days when people remember his contribution to South Africa’s freedom struggle too.
“Though we do not observe a holiday but we certainly pay tributes to him on October 2,” said the judge.