A group of seven peace activists from various countries including South Africa, India and Japan have embarked on a peace walk across South Africa in celebration of two late icons, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
The group, whose mission is to spread the message of non-violence and peace, started their walk from Johannesburg to Mvezo – late Nelson Mandela’s place of birth – through Durban. Led by a 27-year-old Nitin Sonawane from Pune, India, the peace walk was fledged of from the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg by Indian Consulate General Dr Srinivasa, on a quest to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 149th anniversary on October 2.
Sonawane, who has been on foot and cycling across 18 countries in the last 23 months, says he is on a 3-year mission to “spread message of Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence in the world.”
He says that their aim is to ensure that Gandhi’s anniversary in 2019 is special, and as the youth of India they are contributing meaningfully towards it.
“We plan to do the Peace Pilgrimage in South Africa, where two great leaders shaped the history of mankind by nonviolence. We started our Peace Pilgrimage from Johannesburg on 2 October – the day of Mahatma Gandhi’s 149th birth anniversary – and the end will be on 30 November after walking across South Africa at Mvezo – the birthplace of Nelson Mandela.
“Our Peace Pilgrimage is to share the life message of Gandhi and Mandela, and walk on the footsteps of two great leaders who changed our world by pure love. Both iconic leaders – Gandhi and Mandela inspired us to work for equality, freedom, and justice.
“Mahatma Gandhi followed his truth and awakened human consciousness by his life work to become one of the greatest in person of human history. We propose to draw world’s attention to their life message and take positive action for peaceful coexistence for humans and nature on our planet earth,” Sonawane said.
Within the group are Sonawane’s friends from India, Japan and South Africa. Yogesh Mathuria (61) who has been part of peace journeys expressed his delight for being part of this cause.
“I joined Peace Walk in South Africa because I have dedicated my life to Peace through Pilgrimages over the last 11 years. So far I have walked for 11 500 km over 375 days in 18 Indian states, Sri Lanka and in South Africa.
“Also invitation from my dear friend Nitin Sonawane to join celebrations two iconic world peace leaders like Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary attracted me.
“We are treated very well by all sanction of society in South Africa. All people are very kind including local people, police, Indian community,” he said.
The group will be visiting local schools planting Moringa seeds. They walk for 30 km a day and stay with local communities, and in police stations.
Ikeda Kanshin from Japan says the experience has been amazing, since they first embarked on the journey.
“I am blessed to walk in land of Gandhi and Mandela on occasion of Gandhi’s 149th and Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary. We meet African people on road I feel they have very pure heart but due to economical inequality there is problem here in South Africa.
“I chant Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (Buddhist mantra) on the road and after hearing it, people feel peaceful and they request me to chant more. India African community is very kind and supportive to us on way,” he said.