Gandhi, Mandela peace walk ends in South Africa
Johannesburg, Dec 2: A 1,200-km peace walk by an Indian group, retracing the footsteps of world peace icons Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela across three South African provinces, has ended at the birth place of the anti-apartheid activist in Mvezo.
The Gandhi@150 to Mandela@100 Peace Walk South Africa – which ended on Friday – was conceptualised by serial long-distance walker Nitin Sonawane, who has walked in several countries to promote global peace.
Sonawane set off with Yogesh Mathuria, Sangram Patil and Dilip Tambolker from his home town of Pune in India together with Jalandharnath Channole from the Gandhi Ashram and Japanese monk Nippozan Myohoji, who joined the team after being inspired by Sonawane during his walk through Japan.
Undeterred by sceptics, who cautioned that the crime in South Africa was not conducive to the idea of walking the long distances with little support, Sonawane arrived in the country on September 21 to start planning.
Their first stop was Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, Qunu from where they proceeded to Mvezo, SABC news reported.
Sonawane said the response from all the communities in South Africa, including the whites, blacks and Indian, have been absolutely amazing.
“Indian people of 4th and 5th generation of Indians who were brought to South Africa in 1860 as indentured labourers sometimes drove 60-km to bring us food,” he said.
“In Eastern Cape Province the (Black) Xhosa people who initially did not believe us when we said that (we) had walked 1,000-km to get to Mandela’s place were greatly excited afterwards,” he said.
There had also been huge interest from the large Indian expatriate community in South Africa, some joining in for parts of the walk as the team passed through their towns.
Sonawane said there had not been a single untoward incident regarding safety as they plodded on for about 25-km daily, especially when people learnt what the purpose of their walk was.
“We followed the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela along the route to show the world that peace is possible and that these two people are our hope,” he said.