By Satyagraha Reporters
This year’s Gandhi Salt March drew massive support from the public, national and provincial ministers and religious organizations. Thousands of people marched 22km from the Phoenix Settlement in Inanda to the Battery Beach in Durban in the spirit of peace and non-violence. The march was held on Sunday 20 April 2008 and attracted many international visitors.
The peace walk was a re-enactment of Mahatma Gandhi’s 240 mile march in 1930 from Ahmedabad in India to the sea side shores of Dandi. Gandhi and his followers defied the tax on salt by making their own. This peaceful demonstration of the peoples’ power was regarded as Gandhi’s most powerful and biggest defiance campaign. It empowered the Indian people and shook the force of British imperialism.
This year’s salt march also paid homage to many historic anniversaries. Among them is the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani, the 20th anniversary of the defeat of the South African Defence Force at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale which contributed to Nambia’s independence, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Rick Turner, the 30th Anniversary of the death of Robert Sobukwe, the 50th anniversary of the Potato Boycott which drew attention to the repressive working and living conditions of farm labourers, the 60th anniversary of the formation of the ANC Women’s League and the 90th birthday of former President Nelson Mandela. Minister of Public Works in Kwa Zulu Natal Ms Lydia Johnson, Honourable Deputy Mayor of eThekwini Municipality Councillor Logie Naidoo, His Excellency Indian Consul General Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Ela Gandhi granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and three Gandhi look-a-likes led the march and set the pace for the walkers. Minister for Finance and Economic Development Dr Zweli Mkhize attended the event and expressed his support for the Gandhi Salt March. In addition, the Deputy Minister of Defence, Mluleki George in his message of support said that South Africa is lucky to have been blessed by a person of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi who advocated peaceful protest and self-sacrifice as another, and nobler, way to achieve justice, peace and freedom in society.
Convenor of the Gandhi Salt March, Ronnie Govender said “It was an absolutely exciting event. It was encouraging to see that the Salt March attracted about one thousand people of all ages, races and cultures.” Govender added that in the past four years, the organizing capacity, status and support of the march has dramatically increased. Funding and sponsorship for the event was received from Umgeni Water, ABI, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs – Government of India, the eThekweni Municipality, Wesbank, the Kwa Zulu Natal Sport and Recreation Department, Polyflex Natal, South African Paper Mills, Ilambi Industrial supplies, Precision Metal Products as well as from many individuals.
This year the Gandhi Salt March Organizing Committee (GSMOC) embarked on an educational awareness campaign with the purpose of attracting youth. Govender said “We are very pleased that so many youth heeded our call to participate in this historic event. We encouraged learners to participate because we see the need to expose them to the concept of Satyagraha and achieving peace through non-violent means.” The salt march aims to promote the message of peace and nonviolence and encourage people to rededicate themselves to the proudly South African concept of Ubuntu.
The GSMOC would like to extend an invitation to the public to send us your comments or attend an evaluation meeting on Saturday May 10, 2008. For more information call 031 373 54 86 or 031 373 67 10.
SALT MARCH PLEDGE
War and violence continue to destroy the lives of millions of people in the world and relegate billions of others to a life of poverty. Greed and exploitation is destroying the environment and our planets precious resources.
We have walked today from the home of Mahatma Gandhi to the site where his ashes were scattered to pledge our solidarity with the millions who have died and the billions who are living a life of poverty and to rededicate ourselves to the moral, and spiritual philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and to continue Gandhi’s passive resistance by pledging to build a global movement for resistance against war, violence, greed and exploitation.
We therefore pledge to continue this Mahatma Gandhi Salt March until we have achieved a world free from war and violence, greed and exploitation.