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Satyagraha that failed to draw masses

October 07, 2006 19:08 IST

Embarrassed with the poor turnout at the centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Durban, South African President Thabo Mbeki has said it will remain a 'black mark' against the country's movement and its people.

"It will, for a long time, remain a black mark against our movement and our people that on October 1, we brought our esteemed guest, a comrade-in-arms and an outstanding representative of the sister people of India, Manmohan Singh, to a virtually empty Sahara Kingsmead Stadium at Ethekwini," Mbeki said in his online weekly column published in the ruling African National Congress website.

Mbeki was referring to a public meeting at the Sahara Kingsmead cricket stadium where only about 150 people had turned up. People of Indian-origin were conspicuous by

their absence. It was among the many functions attended by the Indian leader during his four-day visit to the country.

Some of the local people present at the stadium sang a song in support of former Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who was sacked by Mbeki last June, and were escorted out by police.

In his online column, Mbeki said they had not only turned their backs on the noble values of Satyagraha but also on their own glorious history.

"I know this as a matter of fact as well, that even 100 years after the birth of Satyagraha, the masses of our people, all true patriots, and genuine members of the ANC will not allow that anybody should destroy or negate the common and noble message of the true liberation and dignity of all our people that Mahatma Gandhi, John Langalibalele Dube and Pixley ka Isaka Seme preached in 1906," he said.

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