Along with many high profile dignitaries, more than five thousand people participated in the 34th edition of South Africa's largest 'Gandhi Walk' on Monday. The walk was held in Lenasia, a former racially segregated Indian township in Gauteng province that aimed at annual fundraising.
The 'Gandhi Walk' was originally started to help pay off the costs of the Gandhi Hall in Lenasia, which is also one of the most popular venues for community events.
Long since the target was achieved, funds raised now are given to a number of charity and community organizations, from free health services to care of orphans and elderly people.
The theme of the walk was ‘United4Sport’ and included David Makhura, the Premier of Gauteng province, national Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, nine times winner of the grueling annual Comrades Marathon Bruce Fordyce and Indian Consul General K J Srinivasa.
Commenting on thousands of people belonging from all races waiting at the starting line, Makhura said, "Social cohesion is what we are out here to do as South Africans, and it is a great day for me to be here today to join the Gandhi Walk since I started out three years ago."
National Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, called the gathering of the mob ‘a country united in its diversity’.
He said, "What we are witnessing here today is a country united in its diversity.”
Chairman of the Gandhi Walk Committee Amit Parbhucharan, further said, "We are very humbled by the wide support and grateful to the thousands who turned up to do the Gandhi Walk today," as he handed over a special citation to 82-year-old Jivan Ramjee.
Jivan has been the oldest member of the Gandhi Walk Committee.
To mark the history of the Gandhi Walk at its 35th anniversary next year, Philanthropist Sammy Naidoo of the ApplePrint Group of Companies announced that he would prepare 10,000 special books for free distribution.
"We will also incorporate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth which will be celebrated on October 2 this year on a large scale in South Africa as well, as was announced last month by Dr Srinivasa," Naidoo said.
The Gandhi Hall was built to replace one which was originally constructed by the local Gujarati community in the centre of Johannesburg after all the Indian residents were forcibly moved out from there to Lenasia by the separate development policy of the minority white apartheid government.
The original hall, site of many public meetings by Mahatma Gandhi during his tenure in Johannesburg as he rallied the community to fight discriminatory laws, was demolished after the community received a pittance as compensation.
(With PTI inputs)