By Latha Reddy, 2nd Oct. 2019. TIO: The wonderful message and photo below were posted by my friend, Uma Duphelia-Mesthrie, the great grand-daughter of our beloved Bapu. She is a South African academician who has done seminal work on the Indian immigrant community in South Africa.
Her grandfather was Manilal Gandhi – the son that Mahatma Gandhi left behind in 1915 to carry on his work in South Africa. His daughters Sita and Ela carried forward his ideas, and Ela served as an ANC Member of Parliament for many years. Uma is Sita’s daughter. So now the grandchildren of Manilal have inherited this legacy.
It was my privilege to meet all of the Gandhi clan in South Africa when I was there from 1994-1997 when we resumed our diplomatic relations with South Africa after a 40-year hiatus. It was my great honor to serve as the first Consul General of India in Durban and to be actively engaged in the efforts to re-establish the Gandhian legacy at the Phoenix Settlement.
We had another grandchild of Mahatma Gandhi – Gopalkrishna Gandhi – who was then serving as India’s High Commissioner in Pretoria. And so Gandhiji has linked India and South Africa together through his personal history, his legacy and his family.
Here is Sita’s message to her grandfather:
“Happy 150th birthday Bapuji. Your name and your message will outlive all your detractors and will continue to be relevant whilst they get relegated to dust. Were you perfect – no. Are you a saint – no. Academics must argue about you – you were a historical figure and that’s the nature of academia as long as scholarship doesn’t become propaganda and vendettas. I’m glad I got told stories about you by my grandmother and mother and have been privileged to have spent so many days of my childhood at that 100 acres you bought to follow Tolstoy and Ruskin’s ideas of working with one’s hands and giving up a pursuit of riches in favor of Sarvodaya – the welfare of all. Can that message of Sarvodaya resonate today as we pay tribute to you at Sarvodaya…And may we try and change one thing today to better ourselves. Photograph: my mother’s from our sideboard through our childhood .”
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