Liberation Heritage Route: Gandhi Settlement

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

The Liberation Heritage Route is an ongoing project managed by the National Heritage Council, a statutory body responsible for the preservation of South Africa’s heritage through, amongst other things, raising public awareness and education.

The Gandhi Settlement in Phoenix has recently been added to the Liberation Heritage Route. Gandhi established the settlement in the early 1900s, and it was here where Gandhi and his followers built homes, a clinic, a school, and even a printing press that he formulated his philosophy and technique of satyagraha, a form of non-violent struggle that eventually led India to independence.

By the early 1980s, a squatter camp had been set up around the settlement and in 1985 violent clashes between supporters of Inkatha and the United Democratic Front caused heavy damage to Phoenix Settlement’s buildings, and the community was largely abandoned until February 2000, when then-President Thabo Mbeki formally committed to its reopening and restoration.

The establishment of this route is part of the process towards preserving national identity and reconstructing the memory of the liberation struggle for current and future generations. The Gandhi Settlement is only one piece of the puzzle. Durban has its own Liberation Heritage Route, which celebrates sites and icons of our struggle for freedom and democracy in Durban.

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