100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Indian Lawyer Makes A Personal Statement In South Africa

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbandar, Kathiawar Agency, British India in October 1869. The son of a senior government official, Gandhi was raised in a Hindu Bania community in coastal Gujarat. In May 1883 13-year-old Gandhi married in an arranged child marriage. In 1888 Gandhi traveled to London, England to study law at University College. Gandhi was called to the bar in June 1891 and then left London for India. His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed because he was too shy to speak up in court. n 1893 he accepted a year-long contract to a post in the Colony of Natal, South Africa then part of the British Empire.

Gandhi has spent the last 19 years in South Africa representing Indian clients in the colony where he also experienced the severe discrimination of being colored in a British colonial society. He was thrown off a train after refusing to move from the first-class. Travelling farther on by stagecoach he was beaten by a driver for refusing to move to make room for a European passenger. He was barred from several hotels and the magistrate of a Durban court ordered Gandhi to remove his turban, which he refused to do. These experiences awakened Gandhi’s awareness of social injustice and started him on a path of social activism. He helped the South African Indian community unite into a political force that fought for the right to vote and against mandatory alien registration cards. He urged Indians to defy the registration law and to suffer the punishments for doing so. Gandhi has been evolving a plan of non-violent protest Satyagraha (devotion to the truth),The community adopted this plan, and during the ensuing seven-year struggle thousands of Indians were jailed, flogged, or shot for striking, refusing to register, for burning their registration cards or engaging in other forms of non-violent resistance.Gopal Krishna Gokhale is one of the founding leaders working for Indian Independence. College educated he has great respect for English politics and believes strongly in non-violence and reform within existing government institutions. In 1912 Gokhale visited South Africa at Gandhi’s invitation. As a young barrister, Gandhi received personal guidance from Gokhale including a knowledge and understanding of India and the issues confronting common Indians. Gandhi describes Gokhale as “pure as crystal, gentle as a lamb, brave as a lion and chivalrous to a fault and the most perfect man in the political field.” Gandhi also realizes how separated he is from his Indian identity.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale
On December 1, 1912 Mohandas Gandhi began the practice of wearing traditional clothing from India. Gandhi had worn traditional Western clothing fitting an attorney but for now will wear Indain attire at all times.
Gandhi in Western clothes
Gandhi in traditional Indian clothes

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