Ask most people who they think of when you say “South Africa” and “peacemaker” and the answer is most likely to be Nelson Mandela, or perhaps Desmond Tutu.
Some people might even recall South Africa’s two other Nobel Peace Prize laureates, FW de Klerk and Chief Albert Luthuli. But few will come up with the name of Mahatma Gandhi.
That’s because the most famous peacemaker never to win a Nobel – although he was nominated four times – is remembered internationally more for his political protest and statesmanship in India, the land of his birth and death.
It is often forgotten that Gandhi spent 20 years in South Africa. These were mutually formative years during which he developed his philosophy of satyagraha, or non-violent resistance, in response to the racial oppression he encountered here. During this time his presence in the country shaped a tradition of opposition to racism that Madiba himself would later adopt.