IndianSpice

Push for Gandhi Phoenix Settlement to be world heritage site

Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, is a peace activist and was a Member of Parliament in South Africa from 1994 to 2004, where she aligned with the African National Congress party representing the Phoenix area of Inanda in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

A group of US academics are spearheading a project to have the Phoenix settlement in Durban declared a world heritage site.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi, with Gandhi’s granddaughter Ela Gandhi, at the Gandhi settlement in Phoenix, Durban.
Image: MARCO LONGARI/AFP

The Phoenix settlement was established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904 in Inanda‚ outside Durban. Gandhi used the settlement to train political activists – called satyagrahis – as well as house their families‚ while they were engaged in campaigns against unjust laws.

Lemuel Berry‚ executive director of the National Association of African American Studies in Maine‚ said there was a team working on the nomination document.

Berry‚ who is currently in South Africa meeting with Gandhi’s family‚ city planners and architects and local universities‚ said they received a letter two weeks ago that confirmed their initial submission had been put on a tentative list.

“We submitted the initial report to the United Nations Educational‚ Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in July. A committee has to review the document to establish if it is worthy of becoming a world heritage site. Knowing it is on a tentative list takes the anxiety away. We know we are heading in the right direction‚” said Berry.

He said they will be doing more research‚ compiling documents and providing maps to support their nomination. Berry said when university students conduct research into oppression around the world‚ among the names they popularly mention are Mahatma Gandhi‚ Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

“Mahatma Gandhi should be recognised for his contribution in dealing with oppression that was not only to Indians but also the fight against apartheid. This is not only about Mahatma Gandhi and the Phoenix Settlement but also about the contribution of Nelson Mandela in getting rid of apartheid.

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