Nelson Mandela is one of the heroes of the modern age. An icon of freedom and the epitome of forgiveness and statesmanship, he is a larger then a life figure in today’s world. Here are a few wonderful quotes from this eloquent and charismatic man who led South Africa through its freedom struggle and first years as a democratic nation.
The Best Nelson Mandela Quotes
We are not anti-white, we are against white supremacy. […] We have condemned racialism no matter by whom it is professed. – While explaining the impact of the Defiance campaign and being asked if his movement was not a threat to Europeans.
It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that the are many more hills to climb.
I have a special attachment to the people who befriended me during times of distress.
I am not a saint, unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps trying – an 81-year-old Mandela at Houston in 1999.
When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive
The colour of my skin is beautiful, like the soil of Mother Africa
In my country we go to prison first and then become President.
It always seems impossible until its done.
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
We must strive to be moved by a generosity of spirit that will enable us to outgrow the hatred and conflicts of the past.
We must all strive to be inspired by a deep-seated love of our country, without regard to race, color, gender or station in life.
There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.
Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite
You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.
The habit of attending to small things and of appreciating small courtesies is one of the important marks of a good person
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up
We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
There is no such thing as part freedom.
Money won’t create success. The freedom to make it will.
Nelson Mandela Quotes on Education
Mandela’s First TV Interview in 1961
Of course we desire education and we think it is a good thing, but you don’t have to have education in order to know that you want certain fundamental rights, you have got aspirations, you have got claims. – Nelson Mandela’s first ever TV interview in 1961
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children – At a luncheon hosted by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan at the special session of the UN for Children, New York City May 9, 2002
It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine.
I am the product of Africa and her long-cherished view of rebirth that can now be realised so that all of her children may play in the sun
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
The children who sleep in the streets, reduced to begging to make a living, are testimony to an unfinished job
Inspiring Nelson Mandela Quotes on Forgiveness
I waited for over seventy years to cast my first vote. I chose to do it near the grave of John Dube, the first President of the ANC
As I am former prisoner number 46664, there is a special place in my heart for all those that are denied access to their basic human rights. – Closing ceremony of the XV International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, Thailand, 16 July 2004
It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on Earth irrespective of the consequences.
Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.
It was during those long & lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my people became a hunger for the freedom of all people
To be an African in South Africa means that one is politicized from the moment of one’s birth, whether one acknowledges it or not
Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural.
Together we must set out to correct the defects of the past.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying
When I walked out of prison, that was my mission – to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both.
Nelson Mandela – mini Bio Video
A fuller version of Nelson Mandela’s lifestory is below. Here’s a mini-bio in video form.
Nelson Mandela Quotes on Leadership
You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
Significant progress is always possible if we ourselves try to plan every detail of our lives and actions
As a leader of a mass organization, one must listen to the people
Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.
One of the things I learnt when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.
It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.
It is not the kings and generals that makes history but the masses of people
Nelson Mandela Speaks at the UN
Nelson Mandela Quotes on Freedom, Africa, etc.
The only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla means pulling the branch of a tree
We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians
I could not imagine that the future I was walking toward could compare in any way to the past that I was leaving behind.
To be a father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far too little of
We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom.
I have spent all my life dreaming of a golden age in which all problems will be solved and our wildest hopes fulfilled.
When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another
I shall neither impose my own customs on others nor follow any practice which will offend my comrades
The chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them. The chains on all of my people were the chains on me.
Gone forever are the days when harsh and wicked laws provide the oppressors with years of peace and quiet
Until I was jailed, I never fully appreciated the capacity of memory, the endless string of information the head can carry
I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended. – In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”
Greed and power has turned brother against brother
For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
You may succeed in delaying, but never in preventing the transition of South Africa to a democracy.
A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred. He is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.
I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.
No one truly knows a nation until he has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest.
We too will die but that which we collectively contribute to our national cultural identity will live forever beyond us
Human beings have got the ability to adjust to anything.
If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.
Prison not only robs you of your freedom, it attempts to take away your identity
Every community in our country has a fundamental right to be free from fear.
The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale
Extremists on all sides thrive, fed by the blood lust of centuries gone by
Our people have the right to hope, the right to a future, the right to life itself – Nelson Mandela in 1992
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.
Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
I cannot over-emphasise the value we place on a free, independent and outspoken press in the democratic South Africa we hope to build
The human soul and human body have an infinite capacity of adaptation and it is amazing just how hardened one can come to be
Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and Apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings
What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others
Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.
Nelson Mandela Released From Prison
Nelson Mandela Quotes About Himself
If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid Government did to you, then do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid Government.
The authorities liked to say that we received a balanced diet; it was indeed balanced — between the unpalatable and the inedible.
I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.
Western civilization has not entirely rubbed off my African background
When they finally let me retire I want to be a full-time artist. – After agreeing to paint for charity in 2001.
I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for
As I walked […] toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I did not leave my bitterness & hatred behind, I would still be in prison.
Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake.
I was shaken but pretended that I was supremely confident of the victory of the liberation movement – Nelson Mandela in 1998
To go to prison because of your convictions and be prepared to suffer for what you believe in, is something worthwhile
I detest racialism because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.
I saw that it was not just my freedom that was curtailed, but the freedom of everyone who looked like I did. – In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”
Although I am a gregarious person, I love solitude even more.I welcome the opportunity to be by myself, to plan, to think, to plot. – In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”
Miscellaneous Nelson Mandela Quotes
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
The death of a human being, whatever may be his station in life, is always a sad and painful affair.
It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on Earth irrespective of the consequences.
Men and women, all over the world, right down the centuries, come and go. Some leave nothing behind. Not even their names.
If wealth is a magnet, then poverty is a kind of repellent. Yet poverty often brings out the true generosity in others.
Nelson Mandela – Biography and Facts
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Thembu tribe, and his father was a member of the royal family. He was born in a little village somewhere in the Southeast of the South African nation. His father was the chief of the village, and thus, Mandela had a comparatively good upbringing and comfortable childhood. As a young boy and youth, he grew up speaking the Xhosa language, in which his middle name Rolihlahla means “pulling the tree branch.”
He was involved in the governance of his village as a child, and attended the meetings and gathering of the chiefs and tribal elders, which served to give him an eye into the rich tradition of community governance among African tribes. South Africa was in the grip of Apartheid at the time, and blacks were often mistreated by the minority white community. Mandela attended a missionary school run by the Methodist church, and this served to instill in him a deep sense of morality and ethics. This education also helped him move away from some of his tribal roots, which might have come in the way of his finding greatness. For example, he refused an arranged marriage setup by one his tribe’s elders, quite an extraordinary thing for his time and situation.
Mandela attended the Fort Hare University College, but was soon expelled in 1940 for taking part in student strikes. After this, Mandela shifted to the Witwatersrand University where he graduated in 1942 in law. Soon though, he joined politics and became a part of the African National Congress or ANC, which was at the time working to improve the situation of blacks and Asians in the country.
Mandela who was part of the ANC Youth league was considered quite a radical and outspoken leader, calling for many changes in the party’s approach.
Nelson Mandela is a South Africanleader who spent years in prisonfor opposing apartheid, the policyby which the races were separated and whiteswere given power over blacks in SouthAfrica. Upon his release from prison, Man-dela became the first president of a black-majority-ruled South Africa in whichapartheid was officially ended. A symbol ofhope for many, Mandela is also a former win-ner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his Indian independence movement against the British, in which Satyagraha and non-violence were a huge component, the ANC was primarily involved in non-violent struggles. Gandhi himself was a lawyer in South Africa prior to moving to India. He had begun the struggle against the whites and was working for more rights and freedom for colored people, when he realized that the people of his native land were themselves in the same situation. Once Gandhi moved out of the picture, the ANC continued his practice of non-violent struggle.
However, by the 1940s, this method had borne little fruit, and Mandela and other young leaders in the party were calling for a rethink of the situation, much to the consternation of older members. Mandela’s first jail sentence came in 1952, and lasted about 9 months. This was soon followed by a 1956 arrest for opposing proposedlegislature that would restrict blacks from moving freely within their own country. Mandela was labeled a traitor and jailed for treason. But after a long trial, the charges collapsed in 1961.
The ANC was however an outlaw organization by this time, and any protest was dealt with violently. Police often fired at unarmed and peaceful protestors, leaving to large scale massacres. This led to major leaders of the freedom movement convening an undergroup called the All-African National Action Council, of which Nelson Mandela was the secretary and later the head of Umkhontowe Sizwe – the Spear of the Nation.
Umkhontowe Sizwe was an organization born out of the ANC that embraced radical tactics to sabotage and destroy government property and prevent the functioning of the minority government. Mandela again was arrested in 1962 for inciting protests and destruction of public property. Five years in jail followed, and was later converted to a lifetime prisoner after raids and dummy court proceedings found him and others guilty of high treason.
Mandela began his lifeterm in the high security Robben Island prison (Drakenstein Correctional Centre formerly Victor Verster Prison) in South Africa. 27 years behind bars followed, and he was released only after the lifting of Apartheid, to become the first of its President’s under universal suffrage. Mandela’s silent suffering and quiet protest put international pressure on the minority government to shut down and lift Apartheid. So fearful was the government of him that any public discussion of Nelson was banned, and he was allowed hardly any visitors. He came to be viewed by all as a martyr. His 1988 hospitalization for illness was followed by somewhat less harsh prison conditions.
On February 11, 1990, Mandela was freed and reassumed presidency of the ANC after the end of Apartheid. Civil was however looming between the whites and blacks and a multiparty convention for a Democratic South Africa was called to establish a democratic government voted in by universal suffrage.Mandela and F. W. de Klerk, who were prime movers of the peace negotiations, were later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. The drafting of a new constitution and other official matter followed, after which Mandela served a single five-year term as President, beginning in 1994.
Bucking a trend among African leaders to rule almost continuously for several terms under the guise of Democratic institutions, Mandela insisted on just staying one term, after which he passed on the mantle.
Gandhi’s Days in South Africa and Influence on Mandela
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation spent several years in South Africa before moving to India. In fact, he honed his techniques of non-violent struggle while in South Africa, and later applied them to great success in India. Let’s look at his contribution to the South African freedom struggle, which was to have some impact in the later years on the ANC and Mandela himself.
With the decision to remain in Natal, sponsoring the cause of Indians, the button was pressed for the launching of Gandhi into the political field. S. Africa was merely preparatory to the part he was to play in the wider field of Indian politics. Of course the principal actor was still unaware of the ro1e that had been designed for him, he was yet a minor character, the political horizon in India being filled by people of the stature of Dadabhai Naoroji, Tilak and Gokhale. Gandhi served his apprenticeship in S. Africa which equipped him for the, bigger struggle whose leadership was to fall upon him.
With minute thoroughness Gandhi set up a working organisation embracing all Indians and for the first time in S. Africa the master and servant found themselves working together for the common cause of their people. It was an amazing experience and just as the rich merchants poured money into the enterprise, the poorer Indians gave of their labour and their enthusiasm. Thus what had been considered a minor issue—the disfranchisement of Indians—developed into a major crisis. The South Africans were bewildered at the rising consciousness of Indians regarding their disabilities.
Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Hindus found themselves ranked side by side in this initial struggle for national self-respect. The Bill had passed its second reading in the House, when a telegram was despatched to the Speaker asking him to postpone further discussion as the Indians had something to say on the point. A petition was written and signatures collected and dispatched to the Assembly and to the Press; in spite of it all the Bill disfranchising Indians was passed. Finally ten thousand signatures were collected from all over tire province and a monster petition was dispatched to Lord Ripon, the then Colonial Secretary. Gandhi himself wrote the petition pointing out the necessity of franchise for the Indians in Natal who were an important minority community. For the first time in England and in India the disabilities of Indians in S. Africa were given wide publicity, and such papers as the London and Bombay Times commented sympathetically on it. The Indians cherished great hopes that the Bill would be ultimately vetoed. This was however not achieved until years later, but this movement was successfully knitting the Indian community in a closer bond, each and everyone giving their best for the establishment of their national identity.
What Gandhi also realised that petitions were good enough but not sufficient, they must be backed by agitation and to compass this the Natal Indian Congress came into being, with Gandhi as secretary. This step was greeted with great enthusiasm and the Indians in South Africa felt for once that at last they belonged, and the organisational strength of the Congress brought new incentives into their lives. Thus it became imperative that Gandhi should consider his stay in South Africa on a permanent basis, and, in this there was the financial question to be considered. The Natal Congress was very much an organization of the rich because membership fees were made deliberately high to ensure a substantial fund from which to draw, but the poorer Indians had a right to its protection and advice when in need. This class of rich merchants who were at the helm of the Congress insisted that Gandhi’s services were essential for which they were willing to pay him. But he was not willing to accept this since he felt it his patriotic duty to carry on the work in hand; however he consented to accept a retaining fee from twenty merchants for undertaking their legal work—this amounted to his bare expense of £300 per annum and with this guarantee he settled down in Natal for what was the first phase in his political career.
Indentured labor was a part of South African life which was little different from slavery. These laborers were Indians imported to do hard work on plantations and farms, and they could only be indented by Europeans and once having signed their period of contract they could not be released from it. Their masters had the power of life, and death over them. The history of their introduction into South Africa is yet another instance of Britain’s quibbling policy and of exploitation. The inducements held out to Indian labor was that they should contract to work for five years and then have the right to settle down there, with the full ownership of the land. But the Europeans in South Africa had not taken the intelligence and adaptability of the Indians into consideration, and they viewed with alarm not only their skill as agriculturists but their ventures into trade. Therefore they agitated that on the expiry of their indenture they be repatriated to India, or be prepared to pay a tax of £25. This proposal was put up to the Government of India. These laborers were not members of the Natal Indian Congress, because they could not afford to pay the high rate of membership, but Gandhi had come- into contact with them over individual cases of injustice which he and the Congress had tackled to the best of their ability. This created a feeling of confidence in the Congress, and on the occasion of the £25 tax Gandhi urged the Congress to agitate against it and create general public opinion abroad in favor of vetoing the tax. But with a view to nursing European influence in South Africa Lord Elgin, the then Viceroy, did not turn the proposal down as he should have, if he were interested in safeguarding the Indians, but agreed to bringing it down to £3 per adult. This in itself was a gross injustice since it meant that in the normal Indian family comprising the parents and two adult children (girls above 13, boys above 16) a tax of £12 would have to.be paid where the average income of the father was never more than 14 shillings a month. The Natal Congress continued its agitation over a period of twenty years before they could obtain its abolition.
Gandhi had settled down to legal practice in Natal not without trouble and opposition. He was brought face to face with the color bar early in his career when he sought enrolment in the courts. At this stage he came up against the Law Society which tried its utmost to stop his enrolment, but finally they could not keep him back. He fought for his rights step by step and all he had to concede finally was his turban. When the Chief Justice swore him in, he told him that he must give up the turban. His friends looked upon his compliance as a sign of weakness but he felt that by this compromise he would be saving himself for greater and bigger struggles. He managed to carve out a decent practice for himself, and his early struggles with the Law Society served as an advertisement for him since much public sympathy was on his side.
For three years he continued his political work and his legal career, gradually establishing himself and his reputation until he felt that since he must settle in Natal he would like to fetch his family With this thought and also the idea that it would be a good opportunity whereby to inform Indians of the conditions of their compatriots in South Africa, he availed himself of six months’ leave in 1896 and sailed for India. During the voyage he devoted himself to the study of Urdu with the object of being able to make himself understood to Muslims, also Tamil because of his great love for the South Indian laborers whose cause he had espoused in Natal. Gandhiji says that the greater part of his education in these languages has been compassed in jails—Tamil in South African jails and Urdu in Yervada Jail.
During his stay in India Gandhi set about seeing how he could bring the disabilities of Indians in South Africa home to the people of this country. ) Throughout his labors during these early years one is impressed by the fact that he believed in the. will of the British Government to help the cause of Indians, and at every step he sought cooperation and was prepared to co-operate. His first step was to write a pamphlet and publicise his mission, and then he sought the help of powerful public figures such as Justice Ranade, Justice Badruddin Tyabji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. All of them were vitally interested in all that Gandhi had to say, but it was Sir Pherozeshah Mehta who organised a public meeting in Bombay for this purpose and this was Gandhi’s first appearance to plead the cause of India on the public platform. The hall was packed to overflowing, the student community being in: the forefront, but at the right moment Gandhi’s voice failed miserably and somebody else had to read out his speech which was received enthusiastically by the audience and their cries gladdened the sponsor’s heart that at last here was real sympathy A. Sir Pherozeshah Mehta commented favorably upon it and Gandhi felt that India was truly listening to the cause of, her children abroad.
Gandhi then set about contacting the newspapers, trying to get them to take up the South African question: He had already seen the Editor of the Pioneeer in Allahabad, who while not promising to support the claim of Indians in South Africa, said that he was prepared to consider and comment upon it. Always obsessed with a sense of justice Gandhi remained satisfied with this. In fact the Pioneer’s favorable comments on his pamphlet was cabled by Reuters to England, and a much distorted version found its way to South Africa which was to have severe repercussions later. When Gandhi came to Calcutta the big papers like the Amrita Bazar Patrika and Bangabasi showed him scant consideration, often keeping him waiting for hours. Similarly Surendranath Banerjee and others like him more than a little cold-shouldered him. But surprisingly the editor of the Englishman took him up and after thoroughly cross-examining him he was convinced of the bonafides of his case. He left the columns of his paper free to Gandhi to express his views. This, was really an extremely fortunate encounter in the many failures he met with on his Calcutta visit.
Since the majority of indentured laborers were South Indians, he was greeted with every consideration by the Madras papers, and the editors set themselves to help him in his campaign through their editorial columns. The Madras Standard in particular went all out to help him. The indifference of Bengal at this juncture may have been due to the. fact that the province was being harassed beyond measure and also the fact that Bengalis were not involved in this controversy. The idea of inter-provincial amity had not yet become universal, the idea of a united India was to materialise later out of the fast developing tempo of political movements.
In his efforts to create a feeling for the Indians in South Africa he was advised to meet the two giants of that time—Tilak and Gokhale, in order to enlist their sympathies and help. Gandhi was deeply impressed with Tilak and on his advice sought out Dr. Bhandarkar, as a non-party man, to take the lead in the matter. Tilak’s approach to the problem was direct, vigorous and forceful. With Gokhale, however, Gandhi felt more at ease and a sense of familiarity in his attitude. Here too he met with sympathy and understanding together with a spirit of co-operation. He felt genuinely drawn towards Gokhale; while for Tilak his admiration was unbounded it was Gokhale who won his confidence straight away. Thus with the knowledge that no longer was India ignorant of the sufferings of her sons abroad, strengthened by the sympathetic feeling he left behind him, Gandhi sailed with his wife and children for the home of his adoption—Natal. His wife, with the characteristic attitude of Indian women towards their husbands, was happy to be able to accompany him even though the idea of a strange land and strange people frightened her. Wearing shoes and stockings was an uncomfortable experience for her and her children, yet they willingly did all that Gandhi desired of them even to learning to eat with knives and forks. Kasturba took to the Parsi sari, then considered the most modem and advanced form of the Indian dress, and the children too were dressed in the Parsi style for boys with long coats and trousers. Gandhi was determined that they would not disgrace them in his new surroundings with the countrified air of Kathiawadi banias. Therefore he forced this metamorphosis upon them. As one looks back upon the man who has promulgated swadeshi and khadi this phase of extreme admiration for Western civilisation seems inevitable for him to realise the uselessness of it. How easily he shook off its shackles once he realised the utter falseness of it as applied to India.
Unconscious of the hostile reception awaiting him, Gandhi sailed from Bombay in a boat belonging to Dada Abdullah and Co., looking forward to his work in South Africa. Yet another steamer called the Naderi also put out with a large number of Indians in it for Durban. On their arrival after a voyage of 18 days, Gandhi’s boat was put into quarantine for 5 days because there had been plague in Bombay when the boat left that port; a similar ban was placed upon the Naderi. Supremely unaware of the real cause of this ban, the passengers awaited the end of the quarantine. In the meantime the real news trickled through to Gandhi that owing to press distortion of certain of his speeches and writings the enraged European population were holding monster meetings banning the landing of Gandhi in South Africa, on the plea that he had grossly misrepresented the behavior of the Europeans in Natal when in India; that he had deliberately brought two shiploads of Indians to settle in South Africa and that these should be immediately sent back to India. In fact they threatened that unless the passengers returned to their own country dire consequences would follow their landing. Despite such threats the passengers demanded that they be allowed to land at the port of Durban.
Word was sent through that it would be better if Gandhi did not land before night, since the enraged white population might not be answerable for their actions. Acting on the advice of Mr. Laughton, the solicitor to Dada Abdullah and Co., Gandhi declined to steal into Durban as a thief by night, so having sent his family on ahead in a carriage he, accompanied by Mr. Laughton, walked out from the pier in broad daylight. What followed baffles description. He was surrounded by a howling mob of young Europeans pelting him with stones, rotten eggs etc., and beating him up. He escaped being lynched through the timely arrival of Mrs. Alexander, the wife of the Superintendent of Police, who stood between him and the mob. Totally innocent of the charges leveled at him, Gandhi refused to prosecute his assailants even though the matter went up before the Secretary of State and had his backing. This refusal did much to enhance his prestige and that of Indians in general than if he had identified and brought one or two of the rowdies to book.
This then was the reception that awaited Gandhi on his return from India, but undaunted, he renewed his labors for his fellow countrymen with unabated vigor.
The five years between 1896 and 1901 which Gandhi spent in South Africa included periods of service for the British Government during the Zulu rebellion and the Boer War. He had two more sons born to him in South Africa, and much of his time was also occupied in the duties of a husband and a father, as well as with his practice at the Bar. But he was gradually developing a way of simple living from a sense of economy as well as necessity, and he enjoyed the idea of self-help and being free from slavery to servants etc. He learnt all the intricacies of laundry work even to starching his collars; then because an European barber refused to attend to him he even took to cutting his own hair. At the start he was the target of much humor owing to his unevenly cut hair but his reply soon silenced all taunts: “The white barber would not condescend to touch my black hair, so I preferred to cut it myself, no matter how badly.”
In the Boer War, although his sympathies were with the Boers, Gandhi felt that as a subject of the British Empire he must throw in his. lot with the British and help them. Accordingly with the help of his European Mends, he organised a Red Cross unit 1100 strong, and served within the firing line. The unit earned much praise for heroism and service, and was mentioned in dispatches. During this period the relationship between Indians and whites was very cordial as if there was true appreciation of the sacrifice the Indians had made.
Ever ready to improve the lot of Indians, Gandhi was not blind towards their faults, and the neglect of sanitation and hygiene was the principal of these in their civic lives. So after the Boer War he turned his attention towards this, and it was an uphill task to instil a consciousness for hygienic ways of living into the Indian population. By example, help and exhortation he took them along step by step through bitter misunderstanding and disillusionment. But he persevered and succeeded. Yet another seed he sowed within them was a sense of duty towards India, their poverty-stricken motherland. Many Indians in South Africa were rich, richer than their compatriots in India, and therefore Gandhi instilled within them a feeling of duty towards their homeland. Thus during the famine of 1897 in India the South African Indians contributed handsomely for relief. The seeds were bearing fruit. In 1901 Gandhi decided that his work in South Africa was for the moment over and that he should return to India.
His sojourn in India, and. disappearance from South African politics was short-lived. In 1901 he obtained permission from his friends to return to India, on the strict understanding that he would always be at their call when they needed him Gandhi agreed, and the community, loaded him with gifts of money and presents. Kasturba was young and loved jewels. But Gandhi was adamant that these tokens of love and service were not their personal possessions and should be made into a trust fund for the fatal Congress to operate. His wife wept and stormed but he had his way, and perhaps later in life she realised the wisdom of this renunciation that they who possess nothing are afraid of losing nothing. That has been the secret of Gandhiji’s always just having to ask to receive funds for his undertakings. Then they were both young, and Kasturba only blamed her husband for his sternness.
These last years in South Africa were punctuated by greater and more significant struggle on the part of the Indians, which lasted eight years but at the end of that period some measure of success was secured.
fore not disposed to argue the Indians’ case against the Europeans. On the other hand he advised them to fall in with the others’ wishes. Thusjthe community found themselves being cold-shouldered at every step. All their war service was forgotten, and new departments arose under the aegis of “European autocrats from Asia” without whose permission no Indian may take up residence in South Africa. Not long after Indians in Johannesburg were deprived of their lands through municipal acquirement. Even though this land was a quarter set apart for Indians or “coolies”, without adequate reason they were dispossessed of it with whatever compensation the municipality deemed fit. There was no appeal either against the settlement or the manner of dispossession^
The Indian Opinion was founded to ventilate the grievances of Indians and the injustice inflicted upon them, and under the editorship of Gandhi, it became a powerful weapon and continued to mirror faithfully the reaction of Indians throughout the years that followed. The Phoenix Settlement was a new home for the Indian Opinion and also Gandhi’s first experiment of returning to the land. Phoenix was a farm of 80 acres, possessing a dilapidated cottage and many fruit trees, being located near Durban. It was decided that all the residents should work on the farm on a salary of £3 per month, and attend to the newspaper and press in their leisure. Phoenix was the first of the ashrams that were later to spring up in India, first , at Sabarmati then at Sevagram, and it had in it all the enthusiasm and idealism plus difficulties that first conceptions usually have. Many of Gandhi’s relations came to join him at the settlement, including his wife and children. A general spirit of self-help prevailed; even scavenging was done by the inhabitants. Gandhi spared neither himself nor his friends in this matter, and from all accounts there were not many who objected to it.