Gandhiji's Johannesburg home now a hotel-cum-museum

PTI Johannesburg | Updated on November 26, 2011

A house in the leafy suburb of Orchards in Johannesburg, where Mahatma Gandhi once resided, is now a unique hotel that doubles up as a museum on the life of the leader who left a legacy in both South Africa and India.

‘Satyagraha House’ was officially opened on Tuesday night by Jean Francois Rial, Chief Executive of French travel company Voyageurs du Monde, which bought the house from its owners two years ago.

With assistance from local historians, the company has recreated the authentic Edwardian home and developed an on-site museum complete with Gandhi memorabilia and period pieces from India that reflect the development of the Mahatma’s anti-colonial and anti-racism philosophy and his commitment to non-violence.

“Gandhi’s concept of passive resistance became known as Satyagraha, hence the name chosen for this new tourism destination for those who wish to learn more about Gandhi’s South African experience,” Rial said.

Eric Itzkin, Deputy Director of Immovable Heritage at the City of Johannesburg, said: “We believe the site will attract both South African and international visitors and will resonate particularly with those with an abiding interest in the struggle to combat racism and ultimately apartheid.

“The house tells its own compelling story, but can also be integrated into a wider visitor experience by combining a visit here with visits to Soweto, Constitution Hill and Johannesburg’s Old Fort Prison, a jail where Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were both held.”

The Orchards house built in 1907 is revered as the place where the future Mahatma conceptualised and evolved his philosophy of passive resistance —— the pacifist method of protest that he subsequently employed in India.

Published on November 19, 2011

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