Home   »   History   »   Gandhi in South Africa

Gandhi in South Africa, History, Contribution, Satyagraha

Gandhi in South Africa

Read all about From Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa. From 1893 to 1914, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi served in South Africa as a lawyer and public official before taking the helm of the Indian freedom struggle to combat inequality and racial prejudice. Within ten years, Gandhi had popularised the Satyagraha school of thought across the nation, advancing the nation’s transition to a society devoid of racial and class prejudice. Gandhi landed in Durban in 1893 on board the SS Safari. Gandhi soon gained notoriety as the head of the Indian community in South Africa.

His participation in the South African nonviolent movement had such an effect that he is still regarded as a leader there. Gandhi claimed he was born in India but educated in South Africa during a gathering in New Delhi. Gandhi made contributions while he was in South Africa, which will be useful for UPSC exam preparation, and we will talk about them in this piece.

Read about: Gandhi Irwin Pact

Gandhi in South Africa History

Gandhi acknowledged that South Africa was essential to his own achievement. During the 21 years, from 1893 to 1914, that he spent in South Africa, interspersed with a few trips to India and England, this shy young man who had just passed the bar examination rose to prominence as the person who would lead India to independence and launch the global decolonization campaign.

Gandhi was detained at the Pietermaritzburg railway station for defending his right to ride in the whites-only waggon; the action, which was at the time routine, would later revolutionize the world. This incident sparked Gandhi’s interest in racial injustice and served as the impetus for his peaceful protest philosophy and numerous arrests in support of the Indian people.

Read about: Lucknow Pact

Gandhi in South Africa & His Contributions

Gandhi was kicked off a train bound for Pretoria despite having a first-class ticket by officials after a white passenger protested about an Indian occupying his space. This event served as Gandhi’s starting point for active nonviolence. It’s fair to say that at the time, Indians in South Africa were mainly focused on maintaining their position as traders, and many of them lacked both political sophistication and formal education. Gandhi raised political consciousness by publishing regular commentary in his newspaper, Indian Opinion, and submitting petitions to the Natal, India, and British governments.

Gandhi organised the Indian Ambulance Corps for the British at the start of the Boer War in 1899, but Indians continued to be subjected to racial prejudice and torture. Gandhi founded Phoenix Farm near Durban as a result of being inspired by the novel Unto This Last by English artist John Ruskin. Gandhi would travel here to instruct his followers in peaceful discipline, or nonviolent Satyagraha. According to legend, Satyagraha started at Phoenix Field.

At the Tolstoy Farm, Gandhi’s second camp in South Africa, satyagraha was transformed into a tool of resistance. In order to oppose the Transvaal Asiatic Ordinance, which was implemented against the local Indians, Gandhi organised the first Satyagraha movement in September 1906. He staged another Satyagraha in opposition to the British in June 1907. In 1908, he was put in jail for leading nonviolent campaigns. However, following a discussion with British Common wealth statesman General Smuts, he was freed.

He was later attacked for this and given another prison term, which led him to once more organise Satyagraha. On behalf of the Indians in that Province initially, and then later, after the Union was formed in 1910, on behalf of all South African Indians, he engaged in protracted negotiations with the Attorney-General of the Transvaal, Jan Smuts. In 1909, he received a three-month jail term in Volkshurst and Pretoria. Gandhi travelled to England after being freed to ask the Indian population there for assistance.

He battled against declaring non-Christian unions invalid in 1913. Gandhi spearheaded yet another nonviolent protest against the discrimination against Indian communities in the Transvaal. About 2,000 Indians followed him as he led them over the Transvaal boundary. Gandhi resided in South Africa for 21 years in total. By the time Gandhi’s visit was over, the government had adopted the Indian Relief Act, which complied with many of their requests.

Through the Defiance Campaign, which was also the biggest nonviolent resistance campaign ever seen in South Africa, all racial groups united for the first time in the 1950s to oppose the apartheid government. A new group of African National Congress leaders, including Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, and Nelson Mandela, also rose to prominence during this historic campaign.

Read about: East India Company

Gandhi in South Africa and NIC

Gandhi established the National Indian Congress (NIC) in South Africa in 1894, and it remained the main political force among Indians for the majority of the 20th century. It advocated prejudice against Indians. A constitution was drafted on August 22, 1894, and the NIC subsequently joined forces with the African National Congress (ANC), breaking the pattern of racially exclusive mobilisations.

The company has worked under the SAIC’s supervision since the 1920s (South African Indian Congress). However, the NIC underwent more radical guidance when Dr. G.M. Naicker entered the picture in the 1930s and 1940s. Dr. Naicker was chosen for the group’s leadership in 1945.

By the 1950s and 1960s, several NIC leaders were behind bars as a result of more aggressive demonstrations. Even though the NIC wasn’t outright forbidden, the persecution of its leaders and the oppressive atmosphere of the period made it necessary to put an end to its operations. The NIC wasn’t revived until 1971, with an emphasis on community service. The group played a crucial role in the United Democratic Front’s (UDF) creation in the middle of the 1980s.

Read about: Revolt of 1857

Gandhi in South Africa and Indian Opinion Newspaper

In Natal Province in 1903, Mohandas Gandhi (“Mahatma”), M.H. Nazar, and Madanjit Viyavaharik established and ran the weekly journal known as Indian Opinion. The publication emphasised racial discrimination, indentured labourer living conditions, and Indian liberties. In addition to providing information about Indians in the colonies to India, it functioned as a significant historical record of the social and political lives of the Indian community in South Africa.

The paper contained articles in four distinct languages: English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Tamil. Gandhi wrote most of it, and Mansukhlal Hiralal Nazar served as its first director. Gandhi created the printing press at the Phoenix Settlement in 1904, where Indian Opinion was published. In the 1950s, when Manilal Gandhi, Gandhi’s son, became editor, the newspaper’s emphasis moved to human rights in general (rather than just Indian rights).

It became a tool for political action after playing a significant part in the civil rights movement. Satyagraha, Gandhi’s nonviolent ideology of resistance, was promoted. Indian Opinion was renamed “Opinion” and managed by Sushila Gandhi after Manilal’s passing in 1957. This was done to represent the “oneness of man” and to advance nationalism. This newspaper issued its final issue in August 1961, ending 58 years of publication. 39 years later, in October 2000, it was resurrected. It is currently operated by a trust and distributed in Zulu and English.

Read about: Viceroy of India

Gandhi in South Africa UPSC

Satyagraha was born and evolved in South Africa before spreading to India and, eventually, the rest of the world. When Gandhi left the country at the age of 46, he left behind a way of thinking and acting that has found resonance in many of the country’s struggles, most notably Nelson Mandela’s. Even though Gandhi’s journey in South Africa began in Durban, it is in Johannesburg that he faces his most difficult challenges. Read all about Gandhi in South Africa in this article for UPSC Exam preparations.

Read about Sanyasi Revolt

Sharing is caring!


What was Gandhi doing in South Africa?

Gandhi, an Indian-born English-educated lawyer, arrived in South Africa in the early months of 1893 to begin a one-year legal business. He settled in Natal, where he encountered racism and regulations that limited the rights of Indian laborers.

How long did Gandhi stay in South Africa?

In South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi resided for about 21 years. He received the title "Mahatma" while he was employed there. He also pioneered nonviolent opposition in a civil rights movement.

What was Gandhi called in South Africa?

In South Africa, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was given the title "Mahamata." In 1914, it was first used against him.

Was Gandhi successful in South Africa?

Gandhi fought against South Africa's discrimination regime with varying degrees of success. He established the Natal Indian Congress, and through his works, he made the world aware of the injustices faced by both Indians and other people.

Why was Gandhi successful in South Africa?

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi previously resided in South Africa to fight against injustice and classism before taking the helm of the Indian freedom campaign. Within ten years, Gandhi spread the Satyagraha ideology there and pushed the nation towards a no-class- or ethnic-discrimination society.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *