Gandhi’s time in South Africa was important in his path to becoming a leading political figure of the 20th century. 2014 marked a hundred years since Gandhi left SA for good after spending his formative years here. It was in South Africa that Gandhi developed his philosophy of satyagraha (meaning ‘truth-force’) a form of active yet peaceful resistance to political injustices.
Gandhi in Johannesburg
Not many people realise that Mahatma Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years. Of this, he spent 10 years in Johannesburg, establishing a successful law practice. His legal work was soon superceded by his political activism in support of Indian rights.
“I learnt during all those years to love Johannesburg, even though it was a mining camp. It was in Johannesburg that I found my most precious friends. It was in Johannesburg that the foundation for the great struggle of Passive Resistance was laid… Johannesburg, therefore had the holiest of all the holy assocation that Mrs Gandhi and I will carry back to India” – Mohandas Gandhi, 1914
During his decade in Joburg, Gandhi walked the city, and moved frequently, living in various different homes. One of these homes, was bought by a French company, and renovated into Satyagraha house – a guesthouse and a museum dedicated to Gandhi’s history in South Africa.
I was privileged to be invited as a guest of Satyagraha House, where I spent the night and spent time exploring it’s museum and learning about Gandhi’s life in Johannesburg. The house is located in The Orchards, an area just outside central Joburg.
Satyagraha House, originally known as The Kraal due to it’s use of traditional African elements, was built in 1907 by Gandhi’s close friend and confidant, the German architect Hermann Kallenbach. Gandhi and Kallenbach, shared this house in 1908-09. There is a small museum that reflects the time Gandhi spent here, including old photographs of Gandhi and Kallenbach, journals and correspondence.
The Guesthouse has been carefully restored, in keeping with the original spirit of the house. Renovations were overseen by a team comprising a historian, a curator, an architect, and interior designers. All the decor is minimalist and functional yet modern.
I ate dinner and breakfast at the restaurant. Meals are simple yet delicious vegetarian fare, in keeping with Gandhi’s philosophy. Fresh produce is a sourced by the organic vegetable garden on the property. I especially loved the freshly squeezed juices that were served!
There is definitely a boutique hotel feel to the place. In the spirit of Gandhi there was nothing unneccesary in the rooms. Don’t expect a tv here, though there is wifi so guests are connected.
Satyagraha House is one of the most interesting heritage sites in Johannesburg and a must visit for anyone interested in Gandhi history and his time in South Africa.
Address: 15 Pine Road, Orchards
Website: http://www.satyagrahahouse.com/ Ph: +27 (0)11 485 5928
Visits to the museum at Satyagraha House are by arrangement.
For more information on Gandhi in South Africa visit http://gandhi.southafrica.net/
Discover more of the amazing #GeePeeShotLeft experiences in Gauteng on their dedicated website http://www.gauteng.net/shotleft. Live it up! Take a #GeePeeShotLeft.
Please note that this post is sponsored by Gauteng Tourism. Mzansigirl maintains editorial control of all content published on this site.