Fri, Dec 9, 2016 | updated 03:30 AM IST

PM Modi pays visit to Gandhi's old home 'Sarvodaya' at Phoenix Settlement

Updated: Jul 09, 2016 18:26 IST

Durban (South Africa), July 9 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited Phoenix Settlement, which is closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi.

He was welcomed by the local residents upon his arrival at the Phoenix Settlement at Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal, around 24 km from Durban city.

The Prime Minister also visited the farm where Gandhi spent formative years of his political work. Gandhi's old home 'Sarvodaya' also forms a part of the Phoenix Settlement.

Prime Minister Modi also interacted with members of the Phoenix Settlement Trust and planted a sapling at Sarvodaya.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: "A sapling for sarvodaya. PM @narendramodi plants a pepper & bark tree at the Phoenix Settlement. Ela Gandhi with him."

While living in South Africa, Gandhi was inspired by a visit to a Trappist community in Mariannhill and by John Ruskin's book 'Unto This Last' to found a communal living system. In 1904, Gandhi chose Phoenix to establish a community based on self-reliance and the value of labour on the land for the common good.

In addition to a printing press for his newspaper 'Indian Opinion', Gandhi's settlement featured a clinic, school and homes, including his cottage, 'Sarvodaya, meaning 'well-being for all', where he lived with his family.

Although the press was burned down during the political upheaval of the mid-1980s, it was rebuilt as a museum. The display here also focuses on the International Printing Press (the name of the publishing house that brought out the Indian Opinion) and the Indian Opinion.

Gandhi used the weekly 'Indian Opinion', which first appeared on June 6, 1903, to share his philosophy of passive resistance 'Satyagraha'. Gandhi's eldest son Manilal was the Indian Opinion's longest-serving editor from 1920 to 1956.

In 1904, the publishing office was relocated to the Phoenix Settlement. It was here that Gandhi published his first book 'Indian Home Rule', which outlined his political vision for India and the principle of inter-faith harmony.

The settlement has been an iconic representation of South Africa's fight for justice, peace and equal rights for all citizens. During the apartheid era, it was an important resistance site, where activists from all over the country met for political enlightenment.

During the Inanda riots in 1985, a large portion of the settlement was razed. However, it was re-built after South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

Today the settlement comprises Gandhi's house, the printing press building, which now houses the Inanda Tourism office, Gandhi's son Manilal's house and the Phoenix Interpretation Centre, where lectures are given.

Next to the Phoenix settlement is the Kasturba Primary School, named after Gandhi's wife. A school was built on the site in her honour in 1954, but was destroyed in 1985. A new school was built to replace the old one still bears her name.

Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 at the age of 24 on an assignment as a newly-qualified lawyer. He stayed in the country for 21 years, occasionally visiting India and England. (ANI)