Mahatma Gandhi Remembrance Garden Tolstoy Farm
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Mahatma Gandhi founded two ashrams for community living in South Africa – Phoenix Settlement in Durban and Tolstoy Farm in Johannesburg. The latter ran from 1910-13 and was meant for training and preparing people for non-violent Satyagraha. Tolstoy Farm during the time of the Mahatma spread over 1100 acres comprising semi-permanent structures and had 85 permanent residents with lot more joining during the day time for various activities. The farm land belonged to Herman Kallenbach, Gandhiji’s close friend and follower, who donated it to him to run a communion. During its existence, the Farm was the nerve-centre of Gandhian politics in South Africa. The period from 1910-13 was also one of the most intense phase of Indian struggle against injustice in the country. Today, Tolstoy Farm ranks among the most revered Gandhi sites in the world.

2. Given its historical and heritage value, the High Commission along with the local Indian community has been making constant efforts to resuscitate the Tolstoy Farm. Years of neglect has, obviously, taken its toll on the site; prior to the 1990’s, there was total apathy for Gandhian history and legacy in Apartheid South Africa. In 1960s, few local Indian community members had got together and built a structure which hosted regular music classes. A decade down the line that involvement also whittled away. Gandhian legacy re-surfaced in South Africa after 1994. In 1996 Prime Minister I.K Gujral visited the Farm during his official visit to South Africa.

3. Our work towards preservation of the Tolstoy Farm has, since, continued. In 2014, COROBRIK [South African Brick company] , to whom the land where the Farm is located now belongs to, agreed to hand over a large [ approx. four acre] piece to MGRG on lease, pro-bono, to resuscitate the site and its legacy.

4. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return from South Africa to India, a special event was held at the Tolstoy Farm on 20 July 2014. At the event, the formation of a Trust to oversee the project and a proposal to develop a GARDEN OF REMEMBRACE at the site were announced. The Trust is now a legal entity and has been duly registered as a Sec 21 Company in South Africa. Its Board of Directors are in place including prominent members of the Indian community including many struggle heroes of Indian origin, Gandhian and great-grand daughter of Mahatma Gandhi Ms Kirti Menon. A Management Committee to look into the day to day affairs of the project has also been formed under the chairmanship of Justice Jody Kollapen, presently judge in the Constitutional Court of South Africa and a prominent member of the local Indian community. High Commissioner, Consul General, Johannesburg and Consul [Community Affairs], CGI Johannesburg are also part of the Committee.

5. The project “Garden of Remembrance” would be developed in phases. In the first phase, the following works have been completed, so far:

  • Developing the garden and planting the trees and put green cover

  • Providing garden tools and implements.

  • Putting-up a gate to the compound and security wiring [compound wall already in place]

  • Constructed a small house for the caretaker-cum-gardener

  • Digging a bore-well for providing water on the site (Donated by CRI Pumps but yet to be installed)

  • Made a cobbled pathway with stones engraved with Gandhian history

  • Provided generator for supply of electricity (Donated by Kirloskar, South Africa but yet to be installed)

  • Provided toilets

In the subsequent phases, there is a plan to developing a museum or vocational skill development centre and also to put up a larger memorial etc.



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