Recalling the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and former South African President Nelson Mandela, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said both the leaders gave hope to those facing injustice and discrimination. Swaraj, who is on 5-day visit to South Africa delivered speech at an event in the city of Pietermaritzburg, which is amongst the deeply associated cities with the Father of the Nation.
The event at the City Hall marked the 125th anniversary of the day when on June 7, 1893, Gandhi, who was practicing as a lawyer in South Africa then, was thrown off a train compartment reserved for whites only.
Ms Swaraj said the two leaders — Gandhi and Madela — gave hope to the enslaved people of this world, whether under colonialism or apartheid. “It was in Pietermaritzburg that hope was redefined by two of the greatest leaders of our times. They gave hope to the developing countries, especially India and African nations, by finally freeing them from the yoke of colonialism.
“They gave hope to generations to come, by ensuring that our values and principles, which we hold sacred, are forever enshrined in our psyche and in our Constitutions,” Swaraj said.
Quoting Mandela’s speech when he had officially unveiled a statue of Gandhi here 25 years ago, she said, “‘Now more than ever is the time when we have to pay heed to the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi’.”
Swaraj recalled the support that India provided to South Africa at international forums during its struggle against apartheid. “India was the first country to sever trade relations with the apartheid government in 1946, and subsequently imposed a complete diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports embargo on South Africa.
Further underlining the historical and cultural ties between the two nations, Swaraj acknowledged the participation by South African youth in various programmes run by India.
“Youth are our emissaries for the future. I am happy to learn that in 2017-18, 28 young men and women from South Africa visited India through the Know India Programme. Last year, 48 South African went on the ITEC and ICCR African scholarship programmes to India,” the minister said.
“The world is a better place because of us. The world has much to gain from us. The world looks up to us to provide leadership.” she said in her speech.
(With agency inputs)