Africa’s Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — known affectionately by his clan name “Madiba” — died at the age of 95 on Friday, 6th Dec 2013, pushing the globe into a state of mourning. He was the icon of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and a colossus of 20th century politics. Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit on Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “A giant among men has passed away. He was a true Gandhian.” Singh’s heartfelt statement only reaffirmed the unsaid connect between Mandela and Gandhi.
Mandela was born in 1918, four years after Gandhi had left South Africa — so they never met. But as a young man, he had known about the Gandhian movement directed against the racist government. In his autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Mandela mentioned how the passive resistance movement led by Dadoo and Naicker to oppose the Asiatic Land Tenure Act of 1946 influenced him. “They reminded us that the freedom struggle was not merely a question of making speeches, holding meetings, passing resolutions and sending deputations, but of meticulous organization, militant mass action, and above all the willingness to suffer and sacrifice”, Mandela wrote.
Like Martin Luther King Jr, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, Mandela was deeply influenced by Gandhi’s ‘passive resistance’ and ‘satyagraha’ as effective political tools for use by unarmed victims of a powerful opponent. Later, however, he had to alter the techniques to suit the South African circumstances.
“You gave us Gandhi, we gave you the Mahatma”, Nelson Mandela is said to have remarked when talking to one of his Indian friends. Obviously, he was referring to the young Gujarati barrister who went to South Africa and after being subjected to racial humiliation launched the unprecedented ‘passive resistance’ and ‘Satyagraha’ movements against the white minority government there.
( Source: Hindustan Times)