South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Joins Gandhi Walk

first_imgIn a first for the head of the state of the country, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the 33rd annual Gandhi Walk which took place in Lenasia, an Indian township south of Johannesburg, on April 15, PTI reported. The 12-km walk, in which 5,000 people participated, was also attended by American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, Indian High Commissioner to South Africa Ruchira Kamboj, and popular Gandhi lookalike Harshvardhan Pitambar.“Thank you for inviting me and making me part of this great and wonderful Gandhi Walk, and especially with the man himself standing here right next to me Mahatma Gandhi,” Ramaphosa was quoted by the news agency as saying. The “Mahatma Gandhi” he was referring to was Pitambar, who had donned a dhoti, complete with a bald head, round glasses and a walking stick.The walk is organized annually as a fundraiser by the Gandhi Walk Committee to create a social platform for nation building, good health and community awareness. The theme for the walk this year was “Going Green” to promote awareness about climate change and sustainable living.Ramaphosa had expressed his interest in the walk earlier, with his spokesman Khusela Diko saying in a statement: “The President subscribes to the values that the Gandhi Walk represents of creating community awareness and ensuring that we all take part in our nation-building project. But also, most importantly, promoting healthy lifestyles and ensuring that our communities are able to come together in a fun way.”The Gandhi Walk Committee expressed joy that the country’s head of the state joined the walk for the first time. “Although we have had a wide range of celebrities and leaders over the years, and the blessings of previous heads of state, including the legendary Madiba (Nelson Mandela), we are elated that for the first time a head of state joined the actual Walk,” Gandhi Walk Committee chairman Parbhucharan was quoted as saying.The walk was originally started as a small fundraiser to complete the Gandhi Hall in Lenasia — a hub for all community events. The event is now billed as a family fun day, with senior citizens, differently abled and families joining either a 6-km or a 12-km walk.The community hall was built after the original Gandhi Hall in Johannesburg, where Gandhi was said to have had meetings with the community to mobilize a resistance against discriminatory laws in South Africa, was demolished as the Indian community was resettled forcibly by apartheid government.As the community hall has been built, the proceeds from the walk are now shared between a range of community welfare organizations. Related Itemscyril ramaphosaMahatma GandhiSouth Africalast_img read more