Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi Timeline 1869-1948

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) - Timeline: 1890-1899

1890 - 1899

1890

January 13-18, Gandhi took Matriculation examination.

January 23-30, Attended Vegetarian Congress at Ventor.

February 19, Result of Matriculation examination is published. He failed Latin.

June, Passed the London Matriculation examination on his second attempt. Later in the year, he met two theosophists with whom he read Arnold's The Song Celestial. Invited to read the original Gita with them. He had never read the Gita before and it impressed him immensely. Later, it became the book of his daily reading.

Attended lectures by Dadabhai Naoroji, but spoke to him only once.

September 19, Selected to Executive Committee of London Vegetarian Society.

October, Attended meetings of Vegetarian Society but took no part in proceedings.

Started taking eggs on Dr. Oldfield's advice but soon gave it up, remembering his vow to his mother.

November, Studied the Bible: the New Testament impressed him. Also read some books on atheism. Attended the funeral of Bradlaugh in the workers' cemetery. But his prejudice against atheism remained. Was introduced to Madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant. Read Mme. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine.

November 15-20, Gandhi sat for final Bar examination.

1891

January, Gandhi's mother died. News withheld from him.

January 12, Passed the examination with ease, but as he had not yet completed his twelve terms he could not be called to the Bar and had to stay on in England till the middle of June.

February 20, Gave his first speech to a Vegetarian Society meeting.

February-May, Wrote a series of ten articles on vegetarianism. The first six on "Indian Vegetarians" appeared in the Vegetarian between February 2 and March 14. The next three on "Some Indian Festivals" between March 28 and April 25. The last one, "The Foods of India", in The Vegetarian Messenger on May 6.

March 26, Became an associate member of London Theosophical Society. Enrolled as an associate member of the Blavatsky Lodge for six months.

June 10, Called to the Bar.

June 11, Enrolled in the High Court.

June 12, Sailed home on S.S. Oceania.

July 5-6, Reached Bombay by S.S. Assam in which all the passengers of S.S. Oceania had boarded at Aden. Landed at the jetty in pelting rain. The news of the death of his mother shocked him.

July 6, Introduced to Raychandbhai whom he regards as one who influence him most profoundly.

November 16, Applied for enrolment in the Bombay High Court.

Practices briefly in Bombay and Rajkot

1892

May 24, Permission to start practice as Barrister was announced in Gazette. Came to Bombay to start practice in High Court. The first case he took up was of one Manibhai in the Small Causes Court for which he charged Rs.30 as his fees. He was to cross-examine the plaintiff's witnesses but failed to conduct the case, asked his client to engage another lawyer and hastened out from the court. He did not go to court again until he went to South Africa.

After six months, Gandhi closed his establishment in Bombay and returned to Rajkot, where he was able, by drafting memorials and petitions, to earn about Rs.300 a month.

His brother Lakshmidas asked Mohandas to see the Political Agent, E.C.K. (afterwards Sir Charles) Ollivant, to refute a charge of intrigue against Lakshmidas. Mohandas found the official arrogant and was pushed out of the room.

December, Appointed companion tutor of the minor Rana Bhavsinghji of Porbandar.

1893

April, Sails for Durban at invitation of Dada Abdullali and Co. to assist in legal trial

May, Reaches Port Natal (Durban)

Attends Durban Court.

Responds to article in Natal Advertiser (His first writing in South Africa)

June, Observed that Indians were held in scant respect there. Visited the Durban Court, dressed in frock-coat and turban. The Magistrate, espying a queerly dressed stranger, ordered him to remove his headdress. He refused to do so and walked out of the court. Wrote to the Press about the incident, defending the wearing of a turban. The Press described him as an "unwelcome visitor". This incident gave him wide publicity. The turban stayed with him practically until the end of his stay in South Africa.

Abdulla Sheth, his host and employer, was unlettered but was proud of Islam. Gandhi said, "Contact with him gave me a fair amount of practical knowledge of Islam".

A week after his arrival in Durban, he started for Pretoria to explain Abdulla Sheth's case to their lawyer. At Pietermaritzburg station, he was ordered to go into the van compartment of the train although he held a first class ticket. On his refusal, a constable was brought and the “Indian stranger was forcibly ejected, his bundles pitched out after him, and, with the train gone, he was left to shiver in the waiting room all night.”

When he reached the Transvaal, and began his coach journey at Paardeberg seated on the box, the guard, a big Dutchman, wishing to smoke, laid claim to his place, telling him to sit down at his feet. On being refused, he gave a brutal blow on Gandhi's face. But at Standerton the coach was changed and the rest of the journey was accomplished without incident.

Next day he reached Johannesburg at night. He drove to the Grand National Hotel but was refused accommodation. On reaching Pretoria he met a Negro friend who took him to Johnston's Family Hotel where he was accommodated. Later, a baker's wife agreed to have him as a boarder.

Leaves for Johannesburg and is thrown out of train en route

Arrives in Johannesburg

Arrives in Pretoria

1893 - 1894

During his stay in Pretoria, Gandhi read about 80 books on religion. He came under the influence of Christianity but refused to embrace it. During this period, Gandhi attended Bible classes.

Within a week of his arrival there, Gandhi made his first public speech making truthfulness in business his theme. The meeting was called to awaken the Indian residents to a sense of the oppression they were suffering under. He took up the issue of Indians in regard to first class travel in railways. As a result, an assurance was given that first and second-class tickets would be issued to Indians "who were properly dressed". This was a partial victory.

July - September, Meets with Indian community, makes Christian contacts, is kicked off pavement by a constable outside President Kruger's house

August 22 - September 1, Carries out experiment in vital food and publishes article on subject in The Vegetarian (24-3-1894) in England

September 16, Writes letter in Natal Advertiser from Pretoria

September 19, Writes letter in Natal Advertiser from Pretoria in defence of Indian traders and their standard of living

September 29, Writes letter to Natal Advertiser on defence of the Indian practice, giving a concise account of the Indian population in Natal

Writes a 56-page guide to London 1894 March 24 Gandhi: Publishes article in The Vegetarian (24-3-1894) in England

1894

April, Gandhi: At the close of one year he was again in Durban intending to leave speedily for India. At a social gathering to bid him farewell, he saw the Natal Mercury and discovered that Government was about to introduce a Bill to disfranchise the Indians.

May 22, At a meeting of the leading Indian merchants, Gandhi proposed the formation of a permanent organisation to watch the interest of the Indians and to oppose the colour bar against them.

June 25, At the residence of Sheth Abdulla, with Sheth Haji Muhammad, foremost Indian leader of Natal in the chair, a meeting of Indians was held and it was resolved to offer opposition to the Franchise Bill. Gandhi outlined his plan.

June 28, Submits petition to Natal Legislative Assembly.

June 29, Leads deputation to Sir John Robinson, Premier and Colonial Secretary, Colony of Natal

July 1, Writes circular letter to Legislators

July 3, Leads deputation to Governor of Natal, Sir Walter Francis Hely Hutchinson

July 4, Sends second petition to Natal Legislative Council

July 5, Entered into correspondence with Dadabhai Naoroji , member of the British Committee of the Congress in London and requested him to help the cause of Indian residents in South Africa.

July 7, But all this failed to stop the Bill, which was passed. Gandhi advised the people to send a petition to the Colonial Secretary. It was forwarded to Lord Ripon. The Bill failed to receive Royal assent and was withdrawn. But shortly afterwards another Bill was introduced and Indians of Natal were disfranchised.

July 17, Submits petition of 10 000 Indians to Secretary of State for Colonies. Decides to settle in Natal to serve the community

August 22, Natal Indian Congress founded, with Gandhi as first honorary secretary, and Colonial born Indian Association

September 3, Admitted as an advocate of the Natal Supreme Court

September 19, His first case in South Africa, defending Gope Maharaj. He wins. Addresses open letter to Natal Legislators

1895

April, Visits Trappist Monastery in Marianhill near Durban

April 6, Represents British Indian merchants in arbitration case

May 6, Appeals to Natal Assembly against re-indenture clause in Indian Immigration Bill

May 14, Asks the Viceroy of India to protect Indians from disabilities

June 16, Secures release of indentured Indian, Balasundram

June 26, Petitions Legislative Council against clauses affecting indentured Indians in Immigration Bill

August 11, Sends lengthy memorial to Chamberlain objecting to £3 tax on time expired indentured Indians

September 12, Franchise Bill refused Imperial assent because of exclusion of Indians on grounds of race.

September 25-30, Defends Natal Indian Congressagainst allegations that it is a secret organisation.

December 16, Publishes booklet, "The Indian Franchise, An Appeal to Every Briton in South Africa."

1896

January 23, Applies to be appointed interpreter in Gujarati

January 27, The Times of London refers to Gandhi as a worthy defender of fellow Indian subjects

February 26, Takes up issue of exclusion of Indians from Zululand.

April 17, Tongaat Sugar Co. successfully applies to Immigration Trust Board to indenture artisans from India

April 18, Revised Franchise Bill re-introduced in Natal Parliament excluding Indians on grounds that they did not have franchise in their own country

June 5, Gandhi leaves Durban for India via Calcutta

July 4, Gandhi reaches Calcutta

July 9, In Rajkot gets involved in plague prevention work

August 11, Following protest meeting of whites in Pietermaritzburg and Durban, Tongaat-Hulett Co. withdraws application for indentured Artisans from India

August 14, Gandhi publishes the Green Pamphlet in Rajkot.

September 14, Reuter sends a misleading report on the pamphlet.

September 16, Europeans of Durban set up the European Protection Committee in response to Reuters report on Green Pamphlet as published in local papers.

September 18, European Protection Association set up in Pietermaritzburg calling for limitation of Indian immigration and compulsory repatriation of time-expired indentured labourers

September - November, Gandhi addresses several meetings in India on the plight of Indians in South Africa

November 26, Europeans hold anti-Indian mass meeting in Durban, condemn Gandhi and set up the Colonial Patriotic Union

November 30, Gandhi telegrams the Viceroy drawing attention to the Transvaal Government's decision to force Indians to live in locations. He leaves India with his family on the S.S. Courland for Natal. The Naderi leaves at about the same time. The two ships have approximately 600 passengers between them 

December 18, The two ships, Courland and Naderi, reach Durban

December 19, The Natal Government declares Bombay an infected port and places the two ships under quarantine for five days

December 22, The Natal Government extends the quarantine period by a further 12 days. Dada Abdullah and Co. telegram the Colonial Secretary for explanation for extending quarantine. They receive no reply

December 24, The Medical Officer of Health visits the ships and instructs that they be disinfected with all the bedding destroyed.

December 25, Gandhi in a Christmas dinner speech on board Courland, criticizes western values and commends eastern values.

December 29, Europeans of Durban advertise meeting for 4 January as a result of the arrival of the Naderi and Courland. They plan a demonstration against Indians landing. Newspapers full of "Asiatic invasion" stories. Gandhi is accused of planning to swamp Natal with Indians

December 30, The ship's captain requests replacements of bedding, etc., destroyed on Government's instruction. The Government ignores request. Indian community and Dada Abdullah and Co. make good the losses and provide other provisions. The Europeans hold mass meeting in the Durban City Hall and plan demonstrations on the docks if the Indians attempt to land

1897

January 7, Whites hold a meeting at the Durban City Hall calling for the temporary stoppage of immigration of free Indians pending the passing of Immigration Bill

January 8, Dada Abdullah sends petitions to the Government, pointing out the dangerous mood of the Europeans and seeking protection for Indian passengers on landing. As the time of the final quarantine period draws to a close, Harry Sparks, leader of European agitation, sends a letter to the ships' passengers offering an alternative to return to India with Government compensation, or face European wrath

January 11, The Principal Under-Secretary asks Dada Abdullah and Co. to inform the passengers of European anger

January 13, 10h30 Bugles are sounded to rally the protesters to the docks. Almost 4000 whites and their African servants are mobilised

January 13, 10:45 Mr. Escombe replies that the steamers should prepare to cross the bar at 12 o'clock and that the Government will maintain order. Ships enter the main harbour, but not given berth and therefore cannot land cargo. Passengers disembark; Gandhi is advised not to land with them

January 13, Gandhi gives interview to Natal Advertiser on board ship. Gandhi disembarks from ship at 5 pm. and is assaulted by European youth. Mrs. Alexander, wife of Superintendent of police, comes to his rescue. A European mob collects later at Rustomjee's residence and threatens to burn the house down. Gandhi is helped by Superintendent Alexander to escape disguised as a constable.

January 20, The Colonial Secretary, Mr. Chamberlain instructs the Attorney General, Harry Escombe, to charge Gandhi's assailants, but Gandhi declines to charge them.

February 2-4, Appeals for funds for famine relief in India.

March 15, Sends memorial to Chamberlain regarding anti-Indian demonstration

March 26, Petitions Natal Legislature against pending anti-Indian bills

May 7, The Natal Indian Congress collects £1 539-1-9 from South African Indians for famine relief in India

May 18, Gandhi requests British Agent in Pretoriathat British Government should bear the cost of test case regarding Transvaal Law 3 of 1885

June 22, Gandhi attends opening of library established by the Natal Indian Congress on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Day.

July 10, Writes circular letter to public in Britain and India on discriminations against Indians.

September 14, Successfully defends Indians charged with being prohibited immigrants.

The St. Aidan's Hospital is opened through funds raised by the Natal Indian Congress from local Indians. Dr Booth is the first superintendent

December 9, Presents water tank to Christian Mission on behalf of Rustomjee

1898

August, Objects to refusal of trading licenses to Indians by Durban Town Council on racial grounds.

August 8, Indians lose test case in Transvaal High Court which rules that Law 3 of 1883 restricts both their residential and trading rights to Indian locations.

November 29, International Printing Press is established which will later publish the Indian Opinion.

December 31, Draws up petition to Secretary of State for colonies regarding Dealers License Act, 1897

1899

April 25, Indians in Transvaal ordered to be moved into locations

July 20, Leads deputation to British Agent in Pretoria objecting to location laws

July 31, Petitions Natal Government for right of appeal to Supreme Court against arbitrary refusal of licenses to Indians by municipalities

September 9, Makes representations to Natal Government to allow Indian refugees from the Transvaal during the South African War.

October 17, Indians volunteer service during the war

December 13, Addresses meeting in honour of Indian Stretcher Bearers at Harry Escombe's residence.

December 14, Leaves for the front with ambulance corps.

December 19, Corps disbands temporarily.

Last updated : 08-Mar-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 03-Apr-2011