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Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha House in Johannesburg

Satyagraha House

On 2nd October every year, we observe Gandhi Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. M.K. Gandhi is a revered name in India. He is the ‘Father of the Nation’. He is world famous for his teachings of non-violence. But apart from India, if there is one more country which not only knows him enough but also celebrates him is ‘South Africa’. During my trip there, I learned a lot about him and his 21 years there. I explored new places and made the best use of my weekends in Johannesburg. On one weekend, I remember visiting the humble abode of Mahatma Gandhi, Satyagraha House at the 15 Pine Rd & Garden Road, Orchard, Johannesburg, 2192. Also known as Gandhi House, this one captures an important chapter of his life. Satyagraha House is not only a historical heritage but also a museum-cum-hotel where you can spend a day or more and indulge in the life and philosophies of Bapu.

Today, on 2nd October 2020, 151st birth anniversary of Gandhiji, as I sit down to reminisce about his memorials, I cannot think of anything better than his 7th house in Johannesburg. Porbander and Ahmedabad in Gujarat in India have lots to tell about him but when it comes to Satyagraha House, it is special because it helps us to know about a completely different avatar of him. In South Africa, Gandhi ji was different to what he was in India. It was there that he learned to stand for the wrongs, for the first time. Join me on this virtual trip to know more about him and his political activism in South Africa. Satyagraha House is one the best preserved places. It also happens to be of utmost importance when it comes to his renowned philosophy of ‘Non-Violence’. His teachings inspired many world leaders, also Nelson Mandela in South Africa. He espoused non-violence, fasting, meditation and vegetarianism and was appreciated world over.

Satyagraha House in Johannesburg
Captured Inside Satyagraha House

Satyagraha House

Johannesburg is a city with many historical charms. The city has stood through many ups and downs. While the city has great respect for its own share of freedom fighters, especially Nelson Mandela, the city also loves MK Gandhi. I loved the mention of Gandhi ji even at the Cartlon Center.

I am sure you may be aware that when he went to South Africa, he was a timid barrister but as he worked and lived there, the place grew on him. He not only began to take part in the political unrest but eventually played a very crucial role in the country’s fight for racial freedom. The house has many old pictures which put light on those aspects. It was nice to see them and put some pieces of his life together. At the Satyagraha House, I also learned that he lived in 11 different places in South Africa and this was his 7th house.

The house was designed by his German-Jewish architect friend, Hermann Kallenbach who also lived here. The house is not just a museum but has become a one-of-its kind. After Gandhiji’s return from South Africa, he did not go back. Some of the Gandhi family members did take care of the property after him but gradually it changed many hands. Not its being taken care by a travel company. They decided to add few rooms to let Gandhi ji’s followers come and live here. The most interesting part of the house is the attic where Gandhiji lived. The USP of the place is that it recreates a part of his life through his belongings and his pictures. The simplicity of the place echoes his philosophies. The charkha (spinning wheel) in one of the rooms is enough to remind anyone his love for Charka. There is a Satvik restaurant inside which serves vegetarian food. Some guests like to stay and some stop-by to spend some quiet time in the ambiance where a great leader lived for many years.

Mahatma Gandhi's House in Johannesburg
Mahatma Gandhi's charkha
He lived in a small room at Satyagraha House! It was designed by his German-Jewish architect friend, Hermann Kallenbach

Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa!

It is almost impossible to talk about Mahatma Gandhi without mentioning about his life in South Africa. This was my biggest realization in Johannesburg.

The place molded him into a world leader. While India may have been the birthplace of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi but South Africa turned out to be the place where he went through a personal growth and personality evolution. He lived there for 21 years.

In South Africa, he worked as an attorney and then as a public worker. First he stayed in Durban for sometime, then Pretoria and then came to Johannesburg. The racial discrimination and the segregation disturbed him a lot and he himself faced the injustice a couple of times. After one such occasion where he was forcibly asked to disembark a train in South Africa, he decided to fight it out. He formed a party which helped him draw international attention to the issues. He did return to India but once again went back to South Africa with his family. After nearly two decades, he finally returned to India and played a key role in the freedom struggle against Britishers.

If you know more about him. Do share in the comment below.

10 thoughts on “Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha House in Johannesburg

  1. This was a very interesting read about Mahatma Gandhi’s. I have not yet visited South Africa, but if I do, I will be sure to check out Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha House in Johannesburg. Thank you for sharing this blog post!

  2. Wow! Its awesome that you managed to visit Johannesburg. It is definitely like a pilgrimage site to every Gandhian! I really wish I could get a chance to visit the place, but then, for now, thank you very much for the virtual tour. Yes, this place has a unique museum of sorts, places where important people lived before they became important! Good to know that its even possible to stay here. Good to know they even have a Satvik veggie restaurant here.

  3. What and interesting read. I always love to see the places where other important figures have lived. I feel like it tell a lot about the person. Much more than listening to stories about them. What an interesting man he was.

  4. I never knew that Mahatma Gandhi had such a history in South Africa. So great that the Ghandi House has been set up to provide information about this part of his life. And his support for the fight for racial freedom.

  5. Wow! I had no idea that Mahatma Gandhi has a house in Johannesburg that we can visit. I have always admired him for his teachings and having a chance to take a closer look at the life like his home is just great. Thank you for sharing this and we look forward to visiting when we get a chance to travel to South Africa.

  6. I never knew, or may be I did but I forgot, that Gandhi used to live in South Africa for 21 years! But why did he move there though? Anyway, it’s interesting to learn a piece of history of Gandhi that helped shaped him to become someone the world’s knew.

  7. So fascinating! I know a little about Gandhi, but not too much. It was very interesting to see a little about his life and where he lived. I think it would be so cool to visit some of the places he lived, with him being such a big icon in India. I think it would give a great feel of the culture of the area. Thanks for sharing!

  8. It would really so great to see the roots of Gandhian theory as all the independence stuff in Gandhiji’s mind started from Johannesburg. Good to know that there is Satyagraha house here and also so many archives are well preserved. I know though Gandhiji was born in India, but Johannesburg is the place which proved to a iconic turning point in Gandhiji’s life. Also satwik food can be found here is a great thing. I would love to visit this interesting place and would love to know the journey of Gandhi before coming to India.

  9. I did know that MG resided in Jo’berg but did not know that it was for 21 years. Indeed there must be a lot here that explains his principles and transformation into a world leader. Fascinating to know of the 7 homes and am glad they have at least maintained one of them. Loved reading about it.

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