Pictured left to right are members of the Gandhi150 organising committee Logie Naidoo, Nomandla Mbele, Paddy Kearney, Ela Gandhi and Kiru Naidoo. Picture:Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The Gandhi Development Trust (GDT) has on Wednesday launched its year long commemorative programme focused on peace, unity and social cohesion at the Old Court House Museum in Durban.

Next year marks the 150th birth anniversary of both Kasturba and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Granddaughter Ela Gandhi said: "This was the very court in which Gandhi first appeared as a lawyer representing a local Indian businessman. He was asked to remove his turban by the presiding judge and refused."

In Gandhi's tradition, wearing the turban was a mark of respect as opposed to the judge's view that one had to remove one's hat in court. In protest, Gandhi left the courtroom.  

This was the first of many acts of defiance that characterised his 21-year stay in South Africa before returning to India in 1914 to join the freedom struggle there.

GDT chairperson Paddy Kearney added: "Kasturba was a political activist in her own right and is not as celebrated in the South African and Indian freedom struggles as her husband."  

Ghandi said the committee has a programme to give her work more prominence.  There was an exhibition of her life and work at the original Gandhi home at Phoenix Settlement in Inanda.

The launch was ahead of MK Gandhi's birthday on October 2 which would be celebrated globally as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Campaign chairperson Logie Naidoo pointed out that Durban was the "social and political laboratory" in which the Gandhi's refined their activism.

African News Agency (ANA)