The University of Kwazulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, hosted the A Four-Day Gandhi Mandela King Conference from June 6th to 9th, 2023. The conference aimed to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi’s eviction from the First-Class Compartment on June 7, 1893. Collaboratively organized by the Humanities Department at the University of Kwazulu Natal, the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Foundation, the Gandhi King Foundation Hyderabad, and the Gandhi Memorial Foundation Chicago, the event celebrated the theme of “Peace and Justice for All through Nonviolent Action (Ahimsa).”
The conference kicked off with a Youth Conference, which attracted 150 young participants. The event featured eighteen speakers from the United States, India, and South Africa, including Manikantha Gollamudi as the keynote speaker, along with Kaushik Gollamudi, Nandini Kandamuri, Rithwik Cheykicharla, Nishika Dubey, and Ruchika Villivalam. Engaging discussions during the youth conference revolved around topics such as “Gandhi – An Inspiration,” “Gandhi’s Education Methods,” “My Life is My Message,” “Climate Change,” “Health is Wealth,” and “Women’s Reproductive Rights.”
On the second day, June 7th, the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station became the venue for commemorating the 130th anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi’s eviction. A reenactment took place, accompanied by messages from notable individuals, including Professor Clayborne Carson, Dr. Ela Gandhi, Ambassador Mr. Puneet Kundal, Deputy High Commissioner of India Mrs. Banu Prakash, Padmabhushan Mr. Bindeswar Pathak, Mr. David Gengan, Dr. Sriram Sonty, Dr. Rev. Allan Boesak. The Indian Navy Band also delivered a musical tribute. Floral tributes were paid by all dignitaries at the Gandhi Memorial Plaque.
Over the following two days, June 8th and 9th, the conference featured approximately 70 speakers from the United States, India, Africa, and South Africa. They presented papers on various aspects of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideals, ideologies, challenges, and accomplishments. The topics covered during this period encompassed a wide range, including “GMK: Visions for the World,” “GMK and Sustainable Self-Rule Governance and Development,” “GMK, Women’s Health, Equity in Governance, and Economic Education,” “SMK: Human Rights and Non-Racial Global Peace and Nonviolence (Ahimsa),” “GMK: Understanding and Intervening in World Conflicts through Nonviolence (Ahimsa),” “Learning and Teachings about Gandhi, Mandela, and King,” “GMK: Communication Technologies and Media in the 21st Century,” “Gandhi and Interfaith Relationships,” “Gandhi Global Missions and Missionaries,” “A Revolution of Values,” and “Marching with the Shirtless and Barefoot – Justice, Peace, and the Call for Revolutionary Reciprocity.”
The success of the conference was made possible in part by the support of organizations like the Sonty Renaissance International Foundation, Villivalam Foundation, Dr. Seshagirirao and Mrs. Indira Donthamsetti, Drs. Deepak and Catherine Edward, Dr. Arun Villivalam and Mrs. Poonum Agarwal, and Drs. Bharat and Panna Barai. The event garnered high praise from the 300-plus attendees, who expressed their appreciation for the conference organizers and participating organizations.
Hon. Dr. Ela Gandhi, Gandhi Development Trust, Durban, South Africa
Prof. Clayborne Carson, Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University, USA Ms. Razia Saleh,
Director: Archive & Research, Mandela Foundation.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISING COMMITTEE
Prof. Johannes Smit, Chair: Humanities Institute, UKZN, South Africa;
Mr. David Gengan, Chairperson Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Foundation, South Africa; Prof. Prasad
Gollanapalli, Managing Trustee, Gandhi King Foundation, India
Dr. Sriram Sonty, Vice-President, Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Chicago, USA
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