Gandhi - South African Rights

Savannah Houlihan


Gandhi - Born on October 2nd, 1869. (Porbandar, India)

Full name - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Also known as Mahatma Gandhi, Mahatma meaning "The Great Soul")

Original Profession - Lawyer

Freedom Fighter of Nationalism for India in British-Ruled India.

Thesis: Gandhi decided to dedicate his life to help Indian people gain their independence.

First Act of Civil Disobedience

Who: Gandhi and some of his followers

When: June 7th, 1893

Where: South Africa

Why: As a young man he was thrown off a train from first class because of racial discrimination. At that moment he realized that he had to do something about rights of people especially Indian people, because at the time had no right to vote. Gandhi had a one year law contract in South Africa and when his contract was up he decided to stay there. He created the Natal Indian Congress to draw attention internationally on Indian problems in South Africa. With the movement he started to create is first mass of civil disobedience. In 1919 he protested against Britain's mandatory military draft of Indians. By 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement of Independence. He went to jail many times under British authorities but was always released early because of his massive following.

"Green Pamphlet"

In 1896, during his time of absence from South Africa, when he went back to India to be reunited with his wife and two sons, the pamphlet of Indian grievances had been changed into ways that made them more exaggerated. When he arrived back in South Africa a mob of white british people were waiting to harm him when he got off of his ship. After sending his family to safety he met the mob by himself and was beaten until someone came to rescue him. He refused to prosecute against any of the people who beat him and in 1899 during the Boer War Gandhi created the Indian Ambulance Corp. to help the British soldiers who were fighting. Since he helped the British and created a moment of peace between the Indians and British he returned to India for a year to be with his family in 1901.


In 1907 Gandhi used Satyagraha to express his dislike towards the Asiatic Registration Law otherwise known as the Black Act. After it was passed it required all Indians to get fingerprinted and to carry around registration that they were allowed to be in South Africa. In using the practice of Satyagraha Gandhi and his followers peacefully refused to get fingerprinted and illegal Indians moved from Natal to Transvaal. The majority of the protestors were beaten and arrested. However, after years of protesting, the Black Act was repealed in 1914.


Once the Black Act was repealed in 1914, Gandhi decided it was time for him to return back to his family in India. When he was going back to India he made a stop in England. During his stop in England, WWI broke out and he decided to stay in England for longer than expected to create another Ambulance Corps of Indians for the British soldiers. He left England in 1915 due to illness and returned to India. As Gandhi became a leader in South Africa it spread worldwide of his triumphs. Returning home to India he soon learned that he became a hero nationally.

After WWI

Starting in March 1919, Gandhi started the Hartal (General Strike) on Britain. Instead of having a positive impact it got too large and over 300 Indians were killed in the process so Gandhi called it off. Unfortunately even after it was called off over 1,100 Indians were injured. The violence came from both sides at Amrisar to the displeasure of Gandhi who realized that the Indian people did not yet realize the true meaning of Satyagraha. Through the 1920's Gandhi spent his time encouraging Satyagraha. In 1922 Gandhi was put into jail for sedition and was released early due to appendicitis. After he was released form the hospital he took to a 21-day fast for the violence that had broken out between Hindus and Muslims. On day 12 most people thought he would die from starvation but he pulled through and the fighting momentarily stopped.

INC (Indian National Congress)

Gandhi and INC approached the British government about the outrageous taxes on the Indian population. The most concerning tax was salt, because it was used by everyone but only exported from India. Although there were many concerning taxes Gandhi chose the salt tax because it had to do directly with the Indian population. Britain made it illegal for anyone to own salt unless it was sold them them by the British government. As Gandhi began to protest against the salt tax everyone around the world joined in and decided to boycott the salt tax against them. In 1930 Gandhi marched to the sea to make a presentation to encourage Indians to make their own salt. As an answer thousands of people started to go produce their own salt. Responding to the peaceful protesting, the British government started mass arrests on Gandhi's followers and even Gandhi himself. By arresting Gandhi they thought that all of the protesting would end but his followers had enough faith in him to keep going. After a lot of beatings and arrests, Gandhi met with the British government and made an agreement for limited salt export and for all of the Indians in jail to be let free.


At age 64, Gandhi retired from politics in 1934 because he was disgusted by how people were treating him. Only staying in retirement for 5 years Gandhi came back into politics after Britain claimed that India would help with WWII without consulting any Indian people. Indian Independence was taken more seriously by Gandhi because of the British government unrightfully adding Indian people to the war. After many protests, in March 1941, Britain released India from the war but this wasn't good enough for Gandhi. In 1942 Gandhi organized a "Quit India" Campaign that caused Britain to arrest him. Being in jail for two years Gandhi was released in 1944 only to find that Indian Independence was still clearly out of reach. Hindu and Muslim violence was overbearing and Indian Independence was becoming harder to see. The Muslims and Hindus had so much disagreement that Britain left India in 1947 making Hindus sign a partition plan. On August 15, 1947 Great Britain granted India Independence. Even after Independence was granted the fighting continued and Gandhi started another fast. After days of fasting both sides realized that if they didn't stop fighting that the frail Gandhi would die. They both came together and made an agreement to stop the fighting therefore they stopped Gandhi's fasting.


1. Multiple times over a span of years Gandhi worked for Indian Independence by giving up his own family to help a greater cause. Like in 1896 when he brought his family back to South Africa and the mob met them at the boat dock. He sent his family to safety but he helped his followers for a couple years even though he hadn't seen his family in a very long time.

2. Even when he was in jail his sense of satyagraha had rubbed off onto his followers and they continued to follow his ways to get closer to Indian Independence. In 1942 Gandhi was put into jail for organizing a protest and for the two years he was gone his gigantic following pursued his vision even when he was gone.

3. At an old age where he should've been happily retired and home with his family he came out of retirement to help the Indian population. After 5 years of retirement, Gandhi worked many years to get to August 15, 1947 when Indian Independence became official.


Without Gandhi there maybe wouldn't be an independent India. If Gandhi had not devoted his entire life to Indian Independence then history wouldn't be the same. He encouraged more than just the Indian population. Every race, creed and color of people in the world followed Gandhi's work and embraced his use of Satyagraha. He made a world wide impact for the better of man kind. Starting in 1891 and ending only when he was assassinated on January 30, 1948, Gandhi was a leader and a hero to people all around the world.

Connections to today are relatively easy to make. Gandhi was such a huge influence that he not only is in history books everywhere but he also directly and indirectly influenced many people. Being he was such a great believer in nonviolence, it encouraged people everywhere to use the practice of Satyagraha. Even though it was very indirect, people today use those methods because of Gandhi. He was one of the most well known and influential humanitarians of the world.


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