Former Zambian President receives Gandhi peace award

  • PTI, Johannesburg
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 20, 2012 01:29 IST

Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda has received the 2012 Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation from the Gandhi Development Trust (GDT) in South Africa.

Kaunda was awarded by Gandhi's granddaughter Ela Gandhi in recognition of his decades-long work in fighting oppression in both Zambia, which was formerly the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, and South Africa.

Zambia provided sanctuary to many African National Congress (ANC) leaders when they went into exile following persecution by the minority white apartheid government.

The elder African statesman, considered by many world leaders to be second only to Nelson Mandela, has worked untiringly towards bringing about peace on the continent since his retirement in 1991 after leading his country to independence.

"My colleagues and I who were involved in the freedom struggle, remained faithful to the Gandhian teachings," Kaunda said as he burst into a freedom song while accepting his award in Durban.

Ela Gandhi said: "Non-violence and peace is today the most valuable commodity for human survival. The presentation of these awards must help people all over the world to embrace the path of nonviolence."

Six South Africans were also given the 2012 Satyagraha Award for Peace and Reconciliation.

These include Mewa Ramgobin who despite the apartheid regime's attempts to restrict him from political activism, remained steadfast in the pursuit of South Africa's liberation and true to Gandhi's philosophies of non-violence.

Ramgobin is the chairperson of the Phoenix Settlement Trust which oversees a range of community activities at the commune started by Gandhi during his stay in Durban.

Other recipients of the Satyagraha Award for Peace and Reconciliation this year were the late Black Consciousness Movement founder Steve Biko; first president of the ANC John Dube and activists Denis Goldberg, the Reverend Sue Brittion and Justice Zak Yacoob.

The annual awards were instituted in 2003 to mark the centenary of Gandhi's newspaper, the Indian Opinion, which he founded during his tenure in South Africa at the turn of the last century.

The awards honour people who have risen above religious and ethnic divides to promote democracy, peace and justice using the Gandhian principles of non-violence.


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