World Africa 09 Jul 2016 South Africa a place ...

South Africa a place where 'Mohandas' became 'Mahatma': Narendra Modi

Published Jul 9, 2016, 8:19 am IST
Updated Jul 9, 2016, 4:33 pm IST
Addressing the Indian diaspora, Modi said generations of Indians fought, suffered and sacrificed so that SA could breathe freely.
Narendra Modi pays homage over a bust of Mahatma Gandhi on a visit to Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Friday where he opened the Mandela Gandhi exhibition. (Photo: PTI)
 Narendra Modi pays homage over a bust of Mahatma Gandhi on a visit to Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Friday where he opened the Mandela Gandhi exhibition. (Photo: PTI)

Johannesburg: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela and met anti-apartheid revolutionaries and families here on his maiden visit to South Africa.

"Amidst the lived history of an extraordinary struggle for justice. Prime Minister met anti-apartheid revolutionaries and families," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a tweet.


"Reliving the life of two legends," Swarup said. The Prime Minister also paid floral tributes to Gandhiji's bust and inaugurated a special exhibition featuring both Gandhi and Mandela.

"Homage to a remarkable history. PM visits Constitutional Hill, earlier a prison which housed both Gandhiji & Mandela," he said in another tweet.

Modi also paid a visit to Nelson Mandela Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Mandela in 1999 to promote his vision of freedom and equality for all. Modi is on five-day four-nation tour. He visited Mozambique yesterday and is on the second leg of his tour of Africa here. He will also visit Tanzania and Kenya.


Modi, wearing a 'Madiba' shirt identified with anti- apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, said India's dynamism is not about mere words but it is driven by concrete action.

"It (dynamism) is defined by our commitment to change the face of the Indian economy. Not just through sustained rapid economic growth but through multiple transformations that aim to uplift," the Prime Minister said.

"India's rise can be defined as HOPE, Harmony, Optimism, Potential and Energy. India's rise is a story of rare resilience, renewed resurgence, superb speed and spectacular scale," he said in his 40-minute address.


He said his government wants enterprises to flourish, businesses to grow and the country to rise. "For this, we are already shaping a policy framework that strengthens India's ability to build trade, manufacturing, innovation and investment partnerships with other countries in the world," he added.

Modi said his intent was to ensure that the 800 million youth of India should fulfill the dreams, not only of India but the global demand.

"It is not only the economy or society that is racing ahead but the mindsets are also changing," he said while giving an overview to the audience about the developments in India which he wanted them to see for themselves.


Seeking to strike a chord, Modi said as South Africa works for its economic prosperity, safety and security, it will find in India a "trusted and reliable partner".

He said both India and South Africa face similar challenges and India is ready to join this country in its endavours.

"India and South Africa are strategic partners. We should build a partnership that spans entirety of human endeavour," the Prime Minister said.

He said while terrorism is a global challenge, fight against diseases like AIDS and Ebola are some of the other priorities.


The Prime Minister noted that South Africa was the place where Mahatma Gandhi "conceptualised his politics" and is the "birthplace of Satyagraha".

Describing South Africa as "karambhoomi (land of work)" of Mahatma Gandhi, he said this country "transformed Mohandas into Mahatma". He said Mahatma Gandhi held South Africa dearly as he believed that he had got rebirth in this land.

Hailing the Indian diaspora in South Africa as "proud sons and daughters of Indian heritage", he said several Indians had gone to jail with Mandela and sacrificed their lives in the fight against apartheid.


Modi said while India was in the lead in opposing apartheid and had boycotted South Africa during those days, it was the first to embrace the country after apartheid was over.

In this context, he noted that India had hosted the South African cricket team a few months after apartheid was lifted on July 10, 1991.