Centenary of Satyagraha 1906-2006

Significance and Programme


  •  In 1906, at the age of 37,  after serving in the Bambatha uprising Gandhiji took a vow of celibacy and took a conscious decision to dedicate his life to service.  He was living at the Phoenix settlement at that time.
  • On 11 September of the same year he called up a meeting  to oppose a legislation designed to introduce pass laws on the Asian community, in Johannesburg.
  • The meeting not only resolved but took an oath in the name of God not to submit to this law
  • This solemn pledge transformed the struggle from mere passive resistance to an active force
  • Gandhiji advertised in the Indian Opinion for suggestions for a suitable name for this movement and the name Satyagraha emerged.

What is Satyagraha  

 Just as the word Ubuntu, Satyagraha has a meaning that cannot be described in one English word or sentence.   
 This powerful word maybe understood as:
  Soul force, Pursuit of Truth or the Power of the  Spirit.
 This term links Soul Force, Truth or power of the Spirit to Ahimsa or nonviolence through which conflicts can be effectively resolved and transformation can occur
  Implicit in this concept is the belief that there is goodness in every individual.

Gandhiji Said
 I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy… the doctrine came to mean vindication of Truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but on one’s self….In my opinion , the beauty and efficacy of Satyagraha are so great and the doctrine so simple that it can be preached even to children…Satyagraha in its essence is nothing but the introduction of truth and gentleness in the political, i.e. the national life.

Why is Satyagraha anniversary important?

 Satyagraha is a powerful tool which can be used in the home, in the community, in the country and internationally
 It provides the most significant and viable alternative to violence.
 Violence is destructive, Satyagraha is constructive
 We need the message of nonviolence now more than ever before. 

The Aim

 To observe this centenary
 to make  nonviolence a part of  the lives of people of South Africa and the World
 to recognise it as the most powerful means to solve conflict whether in the home, in the community, in the country or internationally

Programme partners

 Community organisations
 Tertiary institutions
 Government Departments

Programme confirmed

March –2006

 On 8 March the World Conference On Religion and Peace (WCRP) organises a workshop to discuss safety of women in the home and in the workplace –contact person Paddy Meskin or Saydoon Sayed


 On 2 April the Mahatma Gandhi Salt March Coordinating Committee will organise a 5/10/22 Km walk from Phoenix Settlement to the North Beach For further details contact Ronnie Govender. 
 This event will also involve international guests from the 8th World Conference on Injury prevention and Safety Promotion  at the ICC Durban.    
 On the 17 April the Satyagraha Centenary Celebration Committee –Phoenix will observe the culmination of a two month long promotion of nonviolence campaign, in a day long event at the Mariammen Temple.  For further details contact Yashoda Ramkisson 
These events will be part of eThekweni’s Programme of Events    

 In May Satyagraha Management Committee together with schools will organise a speech contest on non-violence
  A Satyagraha floating trophy will be launched
 The Department of Education will be approached to partner in this project. 

 On 26 June, the 60 anniversary of the Defiance campaign which was based on the ideals of Satyagraha- The Gandhi Development Trust plans to organise the presentation of the  Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace   It is envisaged that the award this year will be presented to Hon Kofi Annan.

 In July there will be an International Conference of Sociologists and here again the issue of Satyagraha will be discussed in a panel discussion.  There will also be lectures and seminars at various tertiary institutions where prominent speakers will be invited to speak on nonviolence.


 In August, the 50th anniversary of the women’s March will be celebrated.  Among the other events, WCRP will organise a conference  where a report back of work done after the women’s workshop held in March will be discussed and further plans made to enhance safety in the home, in the work place and to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. 


 In September the Annual Gandhi Lecture will be presented hopefully by Hon Sonia Gandhi President of All India Congress Party and  a conference on non-violence will be held with prominent speakers.  We are expecting Rev Michael Beckwith head of one of the largest Churches in America and head of Association for global New Thought and his wife Ricky Beckwith- who sings gospel songs. 


  On 2 October Gandhiji’s birth anniversary will be celebrated with an appropriate interfaith prayer service.


 An evaluation of the programmes will take place

Cross cutting events

 Satyagraha will be producing a number of videos in collaboration with the Department of Education to give to schools as support material for lessons in  history and life skills
 Participatory Development Initiative will pilot the video and the lessons  for more information contact Ashish Ramgobin 

 Heritage tour to study S.A. legacy of nonviolence
 This will involve department of tourism
 Other organisations will be encouraged to organise local programmes within their own  residential areas so that we can reach many more people and new projects may emerge in neighbourhood groups. 

By | 2017-11-09T15:54:46+02:00 December 4th, 2007|Activities|