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This inspiring anecdote could be used to talk about Gandhi, South Africa, Apartheid, India, civil rights, discrimination, peace, nonviolence, protests, marching, forgiveness, love, determination, the golden rule, perseverance, dedication, commitment, equality, legal recognition of marriage and more.
Gandhi's project in prison
This story is adapted from Gandhiji Anecdotes and Quotes by Nenmeli K Srinivasan and published on www.Scribd.com.
Before taking on the struggle for change in India, the great leader for non-violent change, Gandhi, worked for civil rights in South Africa. On Nov. 6, 1913, he led a amarch of more than 2,000 people from Charlestown in Natal to Transvaal. This march was to protest the refusal of the South African government to recognize as legitimate any marriages other than those of Christians. This viewpoint was pushed by South African statesman Gen. Jan Smuts, who insisted the rules wouldn't change under his watch.
For the march, Gandhi arranged for bread, water and sugar to be available for the men, women and children who marched with him at various points along the route. As they crossed the border, the government arrested them and sent tham back to Natal in trains to the Dundee Mines, where they were imprisoned temporarily. The mine owners managed the prisoners and tried to force them to work, but the people refused. Some people were killed in the struggle to force them to work.
These deaths caused nearly 50,000 Indian miners and planatation workers in the region to stop working. Gen. Smuts ordered an enquiry into the problem, and eventually through the workings of Gandhi and his colleagues, a settlement was reached. The South African government passed the Indian Relief Act, which repealed the three pound tax and recognized Muslim, Parsi and Hindu marriages.
So how had Gandhi spent his time while incarcarated? Since he had just led a march, the idea of walking must have been on his mind. He spent his time making a pair of shoes for the very man who had them all imprisoned - Gen. Jan Smuts. Years leater, Gen Smuts would meet Gandhi again and apologize for his actions in South Africa. As Mohandas Gandhi would famously say, "A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave."
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