A library full of English and Hindi books related to Mahatma GandhiIndia’s relations with South Africa and the literary works of Indian writers was officially inaugurated at Tolstoy Farm, the commune where the Mahatma began his Satyagraha campaign at the turn of the last century.
It is a boost to veteran South African Indian activist Gandhi Mohan Hira’s lifelong dream of restoring Tolstoy’s Farm, once a thriving self-sufficient commune, to its former glory.
The site, which was vandalized, was restored largely through the tireless efforts of Hira, with the help of sponsors and the Indian Consulate in Johannesburg.
A library containing books in English and Hindi related to Mahatma Gandhi, India’s relations with South Africa, and literary works by Indian writers was officially inaugurated on Sunday at the Tolstoy Farm.
Tolstoy Farm is located 30 km south of Johannesburg.
Hira said the library would be open to researchers by appointment at this point and to the general public once the entire project is complete.
India’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Anju Ranjan, the event’s keynote speaker, was praised for her role in raising funds from expatriate Indian businesses in South Africa to support the establishment of a borehole, generator, solar powered security lighting and toilets. at the Tolstoy farm.
“I only wish I could have done more during my three-year stay here,” said Ranjan, who is returning to India next month.
“Half my time here was during the Covid lockdown, when it was difficult to work efficiently, although we continued to do our best,” she said.
Ranjan said she was inspired to visit Tolstoy Farm, which she was told about at school in India.
“Although I leave with a sad heart, I am happy with what we were able to do to get water, solar lights, trees and security to the site,” Ranjan said.
The diplomat called on the local community to support the project as a legacy left by Gandhi after what he did to fight discrimination in South Africa and India.
“I also hope that Tolstoy Farm can gain recognition from the South African government to become a national heritage site, as is the case with the Phoenix Settlement near Durban, which he started there and which is now run by his granddaughter Elaben Gandhi,” Ranjan added. .
Hira assured Ranjan and other guests that he would do everything possible to help Tolstoy Farm achieve this recognition.
“We are now engaging the local community surrounding Tolstoy Farm to start using this center for empowerment projects such as sewing classes, especially for unemployed women and youth, so they can improve their lives, like Gandhi foresaw this when he created Tolstoy Farm,” added Hira.
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