Durban, June 6 (IANS) Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday visited the Phoenix Settlement near here, which served as Mahatma Gandhi’s home during his stay in South Africa, and planted a tree sapling.
“Where Bapu developed his philosophy of non-violence!” the Indian Consulate in Durban tweeted and added that Sushma Swaraj visited the settlement, a South African Heritage site, “paying respect to the place that served as Gandhiji’s home”.
During the course of her visit, she planted a sapling of the Cape chestnut, a tree that is cultivated widely for its prolific flower display.
She also interacted with students of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Computer Education and Information Technology, a centre established by the Indian government.
Established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904, the Phoenix Settlement is situated some 20 km north of Durban.
The settlement, devoted to Gandhi’s principles of Satyagraha or passive resistance, has played an important spiritual and political role throughout its long history, promoting justice, peace and equality.
Gandhi established the settlement as a communal experimental farm with a view to giving each family two acres of land which they could develop.
He believed that communities like Phoenix which advocated communal living would form a sound basis for the struggle against social injustice.
Sushma arrived here on Tuesday evening from Pretoria, where she attended the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Foreign Ministers Meeting and chaired an informal meeting of the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Foreign Ministers.
Durban is home to a significant number of people of Indian origin.
The Indian External Affairs Minister is scheduled to participate in a series of events on Wednesday and Thursday at Pietermaritzburg to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the historic incident in a train compartment that became a catalyst for Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement.
On June 7, 1893, on a train trip to Pretoria, Gandhi was ordered by a white man to move from first class to third class. Gandhi, who had a first class ticket, refused and was thrown off the train in Pietermaritzburg.