Museum inaugurated on land owned by Mahatma Gandhi in Durban
Johannesburg, October 19: A Gandhi museum has been inaugurated, on the eve of Diwali, on a small piece of land once owned by Mahatma Gandhi in the coastal city of Durban.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh inaugurated the museum on Wednesday, which will reflect the life and universal influence of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi owned the land in 1897 and used to hold public meetings there when the Natal Indian Congress planned its fight against laws discriminating against Indians in South Africa.
When Gandhi left Durban in 1914, he transferred the ownership of the premises to the Natal Indian Congress, which had planned to erect a new building in 1964.
But the plans were scuppered by the apartheid-era laws prohibiting this, resulting in the site being used as a car park by the 1980's before the MGMT initiated the museum plans.
Many original artefacts, some retained unrestored, such as a spinning wheel, are on display at the museum.
Singh, who was in Durban to attend the 8th IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Commission and the 17th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, also inaugurated two other projects in the city that were sponsored by India following pledges after a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July last year.
The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, first conceived eight years ago, in what was once the heart of Durban's Indian community, has been established after a grant of over R 1.25 million was provided by the Government of India to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust (MGMT).
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government also contributed about a million rand for the project.
An exhibition titled 'Gandhi in Durban' has been set up at the newly-constructed venue by the Durban Local History Museum in consultation with the MGMT, reflecting the life and universal influence of Mahatma Gandhi.
Singh also inaugurated kitchen and dining facilities at Ramakrishna Abalindi Home in Inanda, adjacent to the Phoenix Settlement started by Mahatma Gandhi during his tenure in the city.
Modi had announced during his visit a grant of R1 million for the organisation, which provides support to indigent aged people, terminally ill, AIDS/HIV patients and also runs a cr che for poor children, an orphanage and a skills development centre for youth.
The facility at the venue where Gandhi started and ran his newspaper 'Indian Opinion' is now equipped with latest computers and other IT equipment, dedicated to providing quality IT education to South African youth.
Also, Singh inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Information Technology at the Phoenix Settlement, which also received a grant of R1m from India.