Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Commonalities between Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi

This is my entry for an Essay Writing Competition ( word limit of 500 )conducted by India Club South Africa ( July 2018 ).

Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi need no introduction.

Despite being born in very normal families and biased circumstances, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi chose to be otherwise. Any person can continue the legacy of their ancestors, there is nothing great about it. But only people with iron-will can challenge the age-old existing ideologies and choose humanity and equality above everything else. Conflict is always life threatening and mind numbing. Being born in an era of conflicting times and still being able to maintain focus and have clarity on the path forward, is what has made them great leaders and visionaries.

Gandhiji was thrown out of a train at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa because he was dark-coloured, or rather let me put it this way, because he was not white. This incident played a very important role in re-enforcing what Gandhiji believed in and led him to fight against discrimination of Civil Rights in South Africa. And this later paved the way for his fight and struggle for an independent India, his motherland. Satyagraha was the philosophy adopted by Gandhiji in both South Africa and India. It means “peaceful resistance” or fighting for a cause in a peaceful manner.

Madiba fought against the racial discrimination against black people his whole life. He fought to bring in equality amongst people and supported free will and democracy. In a country like South Africa and at the times that he was born in when racial discrimination was at its peaks, just thinking about equality and free-will was such a costly dream. But he still made it come true! His speech at the Rivonia Trial, which was inspired by Castro’s “History will Absolve Me” was widely reported by the press despite censorship and moved people to no end.

The greatest thing about both these human beings is that they believed in humanity above everything else. Both of them fought for independence and democracy. That no matter what colour your skin is, the colour of your blood is still red.

Despite intense provocation, they never answered racism with racism and violence with violence. They chose the opposite and they dared to be different. It takes a lot of courage to call a “spade” a “spade” and that is exactly what they did, their whole lives, leading by example.

South Africa has been the life-changing and a compelling reason for both of them to travel the path that they had chosen. And boy did they win in the end…….