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African leader gets Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award

Last updated on: December 04, 2004 18:49 IST

Former president of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire has been honoured with the Mahatma Gandhi International Peace Award for his efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in the African continent.

The award was presented by the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, which is headed by Gandhi's grand-daughter Ela Gandhi, at the Kendra Hall in Durban, South Africa, on Friday night.

The ceremony was attended by over 300 invited guests, including Indian Consul General Ajay Swarup.

In his acceptance speech, Sir Masire said the 'great Mahatma Gandhi believed in a world of peace and harmony', and the people of Africa, where he once lived, are looking forward to a non-violent and peaceful society.

"If there is no peace, there is no freedom," he remarked. But, unfortunately, for many people in Africa, peace and harmony are still a distant dream, he said.

"It [peace] continues to be a mirage. There is no guarantee it will be realised in our lifetime. Violent acts and terrorism for political purposes still haunt us. Tyrants, dictators, guerrillas, revolutionaries, as well as commanders of regular troops, carry out acts of terrorism against their opponents and suppress minorities. The litany of injustices against humanity is unending," he lamented.

However, the current array of African leaders have committed themselves to bequeath a legacy of peace to their children, Sir Masire said.

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