Experiment with greed falls flat

Gandhi legacy on sale

A South African lady’s experiment with greed has not quite paid off.

Four months after Kingfisher boss Vijay Mallya successfully acquired Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia in London after much hype, a house in Johannesburg, where the Mahatma lived for three years, has been put up for sale by the owner. But invoking Gandhi’s name to earn a fast buck does not seem to have worked wonders.

Unlike the London auction, there aren’t much takers for the house, where the icon of non-violence began his experiments with Satyagraha. Even the Indian-origin community members have shown scant interest in buying the property.

Hidden away on a quiet street in Orchards, north of central Johannesburg, the house was designed by Gandhi’s confidant and architect Hermann Kallenbach.
Its distinct thatched roofs and rondavel style gave the house its informal name ‘The Kraal’.

In fact, Gandhi lived in the house with Kallenbach for three years from 1908.
The owner, Nancy Ball, who has been living in the house for the past 25 years, wants to move to Cape Town.

And she has put the house on the market after failing to attract buyers with an interest in preserving its historical legacy, the ‘Times’ reported. Ironically, Ball has not revealed the price. Ball enlisted the support of Stephen Gelb, founding director of the Centre of Indian Studies in Africa at the University of Witwatersrand, on a voluntary basis, to try to find a suitable buyer.

Gelb tried to solicit the interest of prominent Indians in South Africa and even explored the possibility of Wits acquiring the property for use as a residence for visiting professors.

“There is little interest among members of the Indian-origin community and also from Wits University,” Gelb told the Times.

Ball said: “Mahatma Gandhi left a lot of his peace here. It’s a very special place.”
The house is one of the several legacies left by Gandhi in South Africa.

In Johannesburg, there is yet another area known as Gandhi Farm, where the Mahatma and his followers stayed and practised the philosophy of Satyagraha.

In Durban, the most famous Gandhi legacy is the Mahatma Gandhi Settlement in Phoenix, north of Durban, where the preacher of non-violence initially devised his Satyagraha philosophy.

Gandhi’s fight against racial discrimination in South Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s is today recognised with several institutions, streets and religious and cultural organisations named after him.

DHNS & Agencies

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