History and hospitality are temptingly intertwined in this fascinating hotel in South Africa – there Gandhi develops his ethos of Satyagraha or peaceful protest.
The historical icon who pioneered the philosophy of nonviolent resistance as the leader of IndiaRussia’s independence movement in the first half of the 20th century remained in the present-day Satyagraha House in Johannesburg for one year between 1908 and 1909.
Mohandas Gandhi practices a simple lifestyle of meditation, vegetarian food and philosophical discussion at The Satyagraha House. Today, guests there can experience a similar way of life. alcohol cannot be consumed in public places and none of the eight guest rooms have a TV, although there is Wi-Fi for anyone desperate to find a sneaky Netflix session on their phone or tablet.
History and hospitality are temptingly intertwined in this fascinating hotel (pictured) in South Africa – where Gandhi develops his spirit of Satyagraha or peaceful protest.
Gandhi remained in the present house of Satyagraha in Johannesburg for one year between 1908 and 1909.
The house was built by Gandhi’s close friend Hermann Kahlenbach, a German architect of Jewish descent. They lived in the house together, one of the 21 years Gandhi spent in South Africa between 1893 and 1914.
Kalenbach built the house in European style, but with integrated elements of African architecture – two rondavels (traditional round huts), wooden frames and a thatched roof.
When Gandhi lived there, the house was in a rural setting, full of cowsheds, wells, and even a tennis court. Now in the beautiful suburb of Orange Grove, the house has been renovated with the local environment in mind. Environmental features include geothermal underfloor heating and low-energy lighting.
The house was built by Gandhi’s close friend Hermann Kahlenbach, a German architect of Jewish descent.
Breakfast with fresh produce from the kitchen garden is included for each hotel guest and is served in the dining room under the mezzanine, where Gandhi slept.
Gandhi sleeps on a simple mezzanine mattress, which is now a reading area (complete with a replica of Gandhi’s famous glasses and a book stand) above the dining room of the boutique hotel
Kahlenbach built the house in European style, but with integrated elements of African architecture
Mohandas Gandhi, leader of India’s independence movement in the 20th century
All staff are local, and prominent South African architects, historians and curators have been called upon to make the guest house as authentic and educational as possible.
The entertainment is in the form of introductory yoga and meditation courses or you can book a massage with the in-house therapist.
All food is vegetarian, prepared from fresh produce from the kitchen garden and local farmers – just as Gandhi and Kahlenbach would eat.
Breakfast with fresh products from the kitchen garden is included for every guest of the hotel and is served in the dining room under the mezzanine, where Gandhi slept.
The main guest house – named Kraal in connection with its architecture resembling a traditional African farm – has three bedrooms, two of which have direct access to the on-site museum and are named after Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba, and son, Manilal.
Then there is a two-bedroom annex with access for the disabled and a modern wing, which has three more bedrooms and a view of the garden.
Aesthetics are charged as simple and modest everywhere, with bed linen, decorative items and furniture originating from Gandhi’s native Gujarat, India.
The museum traces Gandhi’s experiences in South Africa, especially those he shared here with Kalenbach, and is installed in the heart of the house, according to the hotel’s website.
Meditation courses are held in the gardens around the museum and the hotel. In summer, the garden comes alive with orange and yellow flowers
The main guest house – named Kraal in connection with its architecture resembling a traditional African farm – has three bedrooms, two of which have direct access to the on-site museum and are named after Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba, and son, Manilal. The aesthetics at Satyagraha House are defined as simple and modest everywhere, with bed linen, decorative items and furniture derived from Gandhi’s native Gujarat, India
Double room at the hotel, including breakfast of fruit, pastries, yoghurt and juice, costs from ZAR 3080 (£ 149.55 / £ 200) per person
It has a collection of photos, letters, books, drawings and notebooks and is open to visitors and guests of the hotel every day from 10 am to 4 pm.
Meanwhile, the garden is dedicated to meditation and is dotted with terracotta pots, Gandhi quotes and trees called the Pride of India, which bloom with orange and yellow flowers in July and August.
A double room in the hotel, including breakfast of fruit, pastries, yoghurt and juice, costs from ZAR 3080 (£ 149.55 / £ 200) per person. Visit www.satyagrahahouse.com For more information.
I WAS AGAINST GANDI AND RACISM DURING HIS TIME IN SOUTH AFRICA
Gandhi is often credited with inspiring civil rights leaders around the world, but his own views on race while living in South Africa are hard to look back on.
Gandhi experienced discrimination while living in racially segregated South Africa, where white Europeans are considered higher on the social scale than Indians.
The abuse he encountered helped shape his political worldview of equality between white Europeans and Indian Hindus and Muslims.
However, his peaceful equality protests in South Africa, which include refusing to leave a first-class car in Pietermaritzburg, failed to include black South Africans.
Gandhi called black South Africans “savages” in a letter from 1893 to the British colonial government in Southeast Africa, in which he also distinguished between “Aryan” Europeans and Indians and black Africans.
“Gandhi believed … whites and Indians [to be] higher than Africans on a civilized scale “, Ashwin Desai, Professor of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, he told the BBC.
– He accepted the power of the white minority.
Many scholars believe that after these early years in South Africa, Gandhi outgrew his racism towards black Africans, eventually becoming an influence on Nelson Mandela and the American civil rights movement in the 1960s.
Gandhi’s radical ideas for peaceful social progress will shape the 20th century.
But the comments he made while living in South Africa, from 1893 to 1914, remain controversial.