Gandhi - Resisting South African Laws

As he considered the best way to deal with South African discrimination, Gandhi developed communities of people from different races and religions.  He wanted to become a unifying force in the country.

Until 1906, he considered himself a loyal member of the British empire.  Things began to change, however, when he saw what power could do to people. 

Carefully examining the negative impact of domination - when one person rules over another - Gandhi realized even he was guilty of dominating his wife.  Then onerous laws, enacted during 1906, further deepened his concerns about political domination.

All Indians, living in South Africa, were required to register and be fingerprinted.  The law even allowed white police officers to require Indian women to remove their clothes - so the police could make a note of body markings on registration forms.  The situation had become intolerable.

As 3,000 angry Indians gathered to discuss the new laws, one man defiantly declared he would rather go to prison than obey them.  That was a concept Gandhi had not previously considered, but he instantly knew it was the best way to respond. 

He would non-violently resist, even if it meant staying in prison until the unjust, discriminatory law was revoked.  And ... he would urge others to do the same.

As historical footage shows, Gandhi's words sparked a huge uprising.  Thousands of protestors were subjected to police brutality, but the people suffered without retaliating.  Non-violent resistance had arrived in South Africa.

In 1913, when Hindu and Muslim marriages in South Africa were declared invalid, Gandhi saw a way to widen the revolt against the country's discriminatory legal system.  He encouraged Indian women, who until then had served their families in traditional roles, to revolt in public. 

The government backed down, and the marriage law was rescinded. 

When Gandhi saw the power of people engaged in mass non-violent resistance, he began to think that even his homeland - India - could become free of British domination.  At the age of 45, while World War I raged in Europe, he returned to his country.

"The Jewel" of the imperial crown, India was strangling under British rule.  Never before had so few people dominated so many.  Gandhi believed the time had come to end that situation.

See, also:

Gandhi - Early Life and South African Discrimination  

Gandhi - Advocates Non-Violence  

Gandhi - Assassination  

Gandhi - Legacy of Mahatma  

Media Credits

Clip from the documentary, Mahatma - Pilgrim of Peace, online courtesy Google Video.


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"Gandhi - Resisting South African Laws" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 26, 2020.
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