Source of original post by Arun Gandhi: Gandhi Legacy Tour
Searching for Meaning in South Africa
The first Satyagraha Tour of South Africa was, perhaps, wrongly billed. It was not so much a “pursuit of Truth” as it was a search for meaning and purpose in life. For instance, how was it that from this boiling cauldron of hate and prejudice two historic icons – Mohandas K. Gandhi and Nelson “Madiba” Mandela – emerged to show the world the path of nonviolence and forgiveness, while many millions silently suffer the ignominy. Ultimately, of course, what one gets out of a trip depends on ones reason for making the journey. A tourist will just see the sights while a searcher with an open mind and eyes will learn and grow.
The trip reminded me of the prophetic words uttered by Gandhi weeks before his assassination in response to a journalist who asked: What will happen to your legacy after your death? Gandhi replied: “They (the people of India) will follow me in life, worship me in death but not make my cause their cause.” The universality of this poignant statement cannot be ignored. Any one of the hundreds of prophets who are worshiped today could have uttered these words.
There is no escaping the fact that both Gandhi and Mandela were regular people like you and me but at a crucial point in life they decided there has to be a different way to counter hate, prejudice, and violence. Some may say it was far too ambitious to claim that in one short visit we could find the answers to this important question. Yet it is also true that Truth can reveal itself in a flash of a moment, if one’s mind is open and receptive.
One reality that emerged for me during this trip was that it is a rare individual who, when faced with adversity, has the courage to make a bold decision even if the consequences of that decision can be life threatening.
If I am to pick the highlight of the tour it would be the visit to Spioenkop, the battlefield where the Boers (Afrikaner of Dutch descent) and the British fought the famous Boer War that lasted a little over three years. Greg Garson, our intrepid tour guide was also a remarkable historian. He brought the battle to life while standing on the crest of a mountain and looking over the field that undulated like a tumultuous sea. I could feel the bullets whizzing by and the canons booming. Although I had read about the yeoman service rendered by the Indian volunteers led by Grandfather I had no idea how difficult their task was.
Walking up to the crest of the mountain where the memorial to the war dead is erected was literally exhausting. To think that a four-man crew of stretcher-bearers carried hundreds of injured up and down these mountains for almost 20 miles each trip to the nearest field hospital was mind-blowing. They had to dodge bullets and canon fire.