Gandhiji went to
South Africa in 1893 at the age of 24 to practice law and earn money.
He went there on behalf of a law firm. He lived there with his family
in a house in Johannesburg. It is now called Gandhi House and is a
national heritage center.
He experienced directly racial
discrimination action in the train to Pretoria from Durban. He was
asked vacate the seat in 1st class on a complaint from a white man and
was thrown out of the train. Gandhiji showed the typical self-restraint
and continued to understand the situation of the Indians and colored
He started protesting for the rights of Indians.
He went to India to get support from Indian National congress leaders.
His first major victory was in countering successfully the South African
rulers when they tried to take away the voting rights of the blacks and
Indians residing there.
He recruited Indians for fighting for
the British during Boer war. He returned to India in 1901. In 1902, he
returned to South Africa on the request of South African Indians. He
had to help them to live better and fight against the rulers. He
started his movement of Satyagraha, non-violence and truth. It
consisted of peaceful protests, breaking law, non-cooperation, civil
disobedience, filling jails, mass arrests. silent suffering, and face
the whites courageously. He trained South Africans in his new path. It
included no killing or violence against the British. It was mainly
meant for the rightful rights of people and better treatment.
He organized and led many major protests during 1903 - 1906. One
against the Blacks act that required registration of blacks in their own
native place. Another against an act non-recognition of marriages not
performed according to Christian formalities. He won them all against
General Smuts. Gandhiji's firm beliefs in God, religion, discipline,
and power of truth made him win. He believed that the underlying
humanity in any person (even British) will succumb to the persistent
peaceful protests, reason, justice which are on his side. Gandhiji's
friends in Europe and India helped his activities. The media was able
to put pressure on British government.
returned to India in 1914 after lifting the level of life of colored
people ove there. His experience in South Africa was the trailer for
what he did in India. His contributions in South Africa were renewed by
Nelson Mandela in the struggle for Independence from White rule.