Johannesburg: Describing her visit to South Africa as a “pilgrimage,” Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday met its former President Nelson Mandela and presented him with a book on Mahatma Gandhi — the man who inspired his freedom movement during the apartheid era.
The UPA chairperson, who arrived on Tuesday on a three-day visit to South Africa, called on the South African freedom icon at his residence here. She was accompanied by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.
“It’s a privilege for me to be here. A visit to South Africa for me as an Indian is a pilgrimage. Coming here without calling on Mandela — the visit would not be complete,” Gandhi said.
She presented the 89-year-old South African leader with the book The Gandhian Way, commemorating the centenary of the Mahatma’s ‘Satyagraha’ movement which he launched in South Africa.
The Congress president said it was an honour and a moving moment for her to be in the presence of Mandela and other leaders, who fought against the whites-only rule in South Africa.
Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada spoke on the relationship between South Africa’s freedom movement and India.
Ms. Gandhi later departed for Cape Town, where she is scheduled to hold talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
She would also visit South African Parliament and deliver a lecture on the centenary of Gandhiji’s non-violent philosophy at the University of Cape Town on Thursday. She is scheduled to leave for New Delhi the same evening.