Ela Gandhi will be at the Durban Book Fair tomorrow speaking on the new relevance of her grandfather’s teachings.
Ela Gandhi will be at the Durban Book Fair tomorrow speaking on the new relevance of her grandfather’s teachings.

Insight into Gandhi's wisdom

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Oct 31, 2020

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Durban - Tomorrow’s Durban Book Fair at Mitchell Park will have a special guest – Ela Gandhi, who will be in conversation with Kiru Naidoo from noon. They will discuss the book about her grandfather, Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, Gandhi Now – Blessed are the peacemakers and sustainers of life.

It’s a collection of the papers given by more than a dozen international speakers who attended a conference, convened by Good Governance Africa (GGA) with Ela Gandhi in October last year, at the Phoenix ashram in Durban that Mohandas and his wife Kasturba founded in 1904.

The book includes photographs from the Gandhi family archives, as well as a chapter of prayers containing the Mahatma’s innermost beliefs and interpretation of the Gita, as well as a keynote by Dr Gandhi.

One of the Durban Book Fair organisers, Kiru Naidoo, said that when academics and activists gathered together in Durban last year to celebrate the Gandhis, little did they realise that within months a global pandemic would change the world forever, breathing new life into the teachings and lived practices of Kasturba and the Mahatma.

“Covid-19 has upended a world order that was already in deep distress, exposing the harsh reality of a global village wrecked by inequality, violence, abuse and neglect. The social and economic consequences of the pandemic have forced people to turn inward, seeking support from their own communities and (re)learning in the process the value of self-sufficiency and one’s place in a local community relative to a greater universal good.

“Against this background, Gandhi’s belief in sustainable local production and an inclusive humanism incorporating the principles of sarvodaya (care for all), swadeshi (self-sufficiency) and swaraj (self-rule), deployed by the methodology of satyagraha (non-violent truth force), gains new relevance.”

The papers included in the book provide a new generation with an overview of Gandhi’s beliefs, his growth as a husband, father and human being and fresh insights into the critical albeit largely neglected role of Kasturba and women.

They also aim to give some insight into Gandhi, the spiritual leader and human rights activist who played an instrumental role in the battle for Indian independence from colonial rule and whose legacy continues to inform the global advance of non-violence, social justice and spirituality into the present day.

The book fair forms part of the Green Diwali Festival being held this weekend at Mitchell Park. It will host writers, readers and publishers and topics range from environmental awareness to social cohesion, while there will also be sessions on conversational Zulu, Hindi and Tamil, cooking demonstrations and the history of Mitchell Park. For the full programme, WhatsApp 083 778 1991.

The Independent on Saturday

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