On the occasion of anti-apartheid crusader Nelson Mandela’s 94 birthday on Wednesday, noted academician and humanitarian Rajmohan Gandhi called upon Indians to embrace the South African leader and consider him as their own.
Addressing a distinguished gathering at Gandhi Darshan here, Prof. Gandhi said he had the privilege of visiting South Africa where Mahatma Gandhi was regarded as a South African. “The locals were surprised to learn that Gandhi was an Indian. I want Indians too to embrace Mandela and make him an Indian hero.”
Remembering the South African leader’s visit to the country during the 1990s, Prof. Gandhi said he was a Rajya Sabha member then and had the fortune of accompanying him to Agra.
Describing Gandhi and Mandela as “compassionate fighters for justice and reconciliation”, Prof. Gandhi said Gandhi was involved in the healing process. “He worked for leprosy patients. If he was alive today he would have been working for HIV/AIDS patients. This is what unites him with Mandela, who is an exceptional, rare and lovable person.”
South African High Commissioner Harris Majeke said: “While Nelson Mandela is the father of South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi is our grandfather. Mandela was inspired by the Satyagraha campaign led by Gandhi. It was a compelling act of passive protest against oppression. This would later inspire the formation of ANC and strengthen Mandela’s belief in our shared humanity and leading a movement of passive resistance against the apartheid regime.”
The 94-minute show was a charity event for HIV/AIDS victims and many donated money to Touch of Hope Foundation.