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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Satyagraha' in South Africa: principles, practice and possibilities
Author:Dhupelia-Mesthrie, UmaISNI
Periodical:Historia: amptelike orgaan
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:passive resistance
About person:Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)ISNI
Abstract:In 1906, Indians began a struggle in the Transvaal (South Africa) against a draft law requiring them to register and provide their fingerprints on the required certificate. Over the course of this eight-year struggle new issues were added, such as immigration laws and taxes. Since Mahatma Gandhi believed that 'passive resistance' did not fully indicate 'the new principle that had come into being', he announced the word 'satyagraha' as the most suitable. This article elucidates the key principles of 'satyagraha' by noting how they evolved during the campaign of 1906 to 1914. It then analyses the extent to which the essence of 'satyagraha' survived in struggles between 1915 and 1952. It argues for a recognition of earlier acts of 'satyagraha' before the 1946-1948 passive resistance campaign. The article also examines the relevance of 'satyagraha' in contemporary struggles over AIDS treatment and housing struggles. While the evidence suggests that there was a strong influence of 'satyagraha' on several struggles in the 1930s to the 1950s, not all its principles were accepted and there was a whittling down and reshaping of its meaning. There were but a few adherents of 'satyagraha' in its fullest meaning by the 1950s. 'Satyagraha' has relevance for contemporary struggles largely because the wielder retains a strong moral high ground, but nonviolent protest needs to be heeded by the democratic State. Gandhi's abhorence of a society based on unequal wealth and his concern for the poor have important contemporary relevance. Notes, ref., sum. in English and Afrikaans. [Journal abstract, edited]