On Sunday, thousands of people joined the 30th annual Gandhi Walk, held in Lenasia, to commemorate the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. LINDOKUHLE NZUZA asked participants why they’d attended the walk, how they felt about the defacement of the Gandhi statue that stands in the Johannesburg city centre, and about Gandhi’s mixed legacy.
Mac Obed Galada, police officer, 47
This is a commemoration of my love for running and Mahatma Gandhi. I feel very bad that his statue was defaced. The people who did this are clearly uninformed. They need to go and read up on our history, more specifically on Gandhi’s history. They must stop defacing statues unnecessarily. I heard that Gandhi was a racist, but I’m opposed to it – I don’t believe that it’s true. These people need to go back and read up on our history and what Gandhi has done.
Kevin Phillip, property investor and engineer, 50
This was a training session for me – I’m doing the SA Masters Athletics in May. I heard about Gandhi’s statue being defaced – it’s completely wrong. I don’t appreciate any of the defacing of any of the statues; I can’t understand why Gandhi’s statue had to be defaced. I can almost understand about the other statues, although I don’t agree with it, but Gandhi? No, I cannot understand how one can deface his statue. To be honest, I have not heard or read anything about him being racist.
Romana Nirvana, student, 15
I have been participating in the race for two years now. [My swimming club does] the walk for health and unity but, most importantly, to show support for Gandhi and his legacy. Defacing the Gandhi statue was very stupid, and it does not make sense to me. I don’t often read newspapers, but I don’t think that the reports are true that he was racist.
Mpho Buthelezi Mogotsi, mechanical engineer, 27
I decided to be part of the walk to teach my children the healthy way. Defacing the statue was very stupid. Why would you want to go after statues? There are many things which could be done to change the country, but people want to go around defacing statues. People need to stop defacing statues and focus on more important stuff. If you are unhappy about the government, go change your vote in the next elections; don’t deface statues as these statues didn’t do anything wrong. Gandhi’s racist past doesn’t matter: history is history – we must learn from it. By defacing the statue, we are robbing the coming generation of learning, understanding where we come from as a country. They need to see these statues so they can ask questions and we can explain; by defacing the statues we are robbing them of that.
Zeena Sookha, 24, travel agent
I have been doing the walk for 19 years now, in remembrance of Gandhi and to commemorate his legacy – to honor his work and all that he has done for us. I don’t think defacing his statue was correct as he did a lot for South Africa and he doesn’t deserve his statue being defaced. I don’t think he was racist as he did all he did for us.
Lindokuhle Nzuza is a freelance writer and a lover of art and books. She is passionate about Africa, gender issues and human rights.