THE 8TH ANNUAL MAHATMA GANDHI MEDIA LECTURE
*Guests in attendance at the Gandhi Media Lecture
Written by: Preleen Pillay and Nobuntu Dlamini
The 8th Annual Mahatma Gandhi Media Lecture held at the Durban University of Technology’s Arthur Smith Hall yesterday, took an unexpected turn.
Guest speaker and Hofstra University Professor in New York, Aashish Kumar, made reference to Gandhi’s ideas of autonomy of speech and unhindered self-expression. “I would like to focus on this brand of Gandhian thought which is that individuals have the capacity to become free even before they have had this freedom from oppressors. How? One might ask and Gandhi would reply through practice and self-reliance, through internal reflection and through independent self-expression through one’s writings and media,” said Kumar.
He also explained how Mahatma Gandhi’s influence helped or can help create a better place for everyone using different platforms.
After the presentation the floor was then open to the audience for a question and answer session. An audience member took this opportunity to make a statement about Gandhi.
Kufikile Mkhize said, “I am not an academic but I felt it was okay for me to speak. I have been researching Mahatma Gandhi and we have to talk about his bitter side. Mahatma Gandhi hated all Africans, we must question why he never won a Nobel Peace prize like our very own Nelson Mandela.” Mkhize claimed to be representing Africans all over.
Speaker Betty Govender responded to Mkhize’s statement whilst delivering the vote of thanks.
She said, “We must find a forum to express these other views of Gandhi, it is not about idealising the man.”
Sauda Haffejee who was in attendance at the talk said that she was not expecting something of this nature to occur at such an event. She said, “I was completely taken aback by the whole statement made by Mkhize. It was rather controversial and extremely disrespectful.”
Haffejee added that Mkhize had chosen the wrong platform to speak about this issue because it was not the place for such comments especially with Ella Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, present. She said it was unacceptable.
The seminar ended with Advocate Robin Sewlal giving thanks to the audience for their attendance.