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Mahatma's 'Satyagraha' first took root in South Africa: Obama

Johannesburg, Jun 30, 2013 (PTI):
U.S. President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama tour the cell block on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held captive near Cape Town, June 30, 2013. Obama visits a bleak former prison island off the coast of South Africa on Sunday to pay tribute to ailing anti-apartheid hero Mandela and set the stage for a speech urging Africans to strive for prosperity and democracy. REUTERS

US President Barack Obama today donned a teacher's hat to tell his two young daughters how Mahatma Gandhi's 'Satyagraha' had influenced American civil rights leader Martin Luther King to fight injustice.

While visiting the Robben Island prison in South Africa where his hero Nelson Mandela spent two thirds of his 27 years in jail, Obama told Sasha and Malia how Mahatma Gandhi started his non-violent political struggle in South Africa.

"One thing you guys might not be aware of is that the idea of political nonviolence first took root here in South Africa because Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer here in South Africa," Obama said, according to a White House pool report.

"Here is where he did his first political (activism). When he went back to India the principles ultimately led to Indian independence, and what Gandhi did inspired Martin Luther King," said Obama, the first black president of the US said.

In a blue wind breaker and slacks, the US president along with his wife Michelle and daughters visited the cell where the anti-apartheid leader was jailed.

Obama in his speeches has often said Gandhi has inspired Americans and African Americans, including Martin Luther King.

During a school interaction in the US, Obama had said once that if it were possible, he would have loved to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi.


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