From the book: Passive Resistance 1946 - A Selection of Documents compiled by E.S. Reddy & Fatima Meer


Statement to the Press by Mahatma Gandhi, 28 February 1947

I have received a cablegram from the Natal Indian Congress which says that the Congress, the Transvaal Indian Congress, the Coloured People's Organisation and the African National Congress have decided on their part to refrain from taking part in or in any manner assisting in the celebrations in honour of the Royal visit to the Union of South Africa. They feel that in view of the disabilities imposed upon the Asiatics and Africans and other coloured people it would be improper on their part to share in the rejoicings of the white people of South Africa. The cablegram asked me to endorse the abstention which they describe by the name of "boycott" . I take this opportunity of publicly endorsing the abstention as a natural and dignified step by any self-respecting body of people.

Message by Mahatma Gandhi to South Africa, 18 May 1947

Field Marshal Smuts is a trustee for Western civilisation. I still cling to the hope that he will not sustain it on the suppression of Asiatics and Africans. South Africa should present a blend of the three. To the people of South Africa, to whom I am no stranger, I would say that they should not make the position of their representatives impossible by their unwarranted prejudice against colour. The attitude of unreason will mean a third war which sane people should avoid. Political cooperation among all the exploited races in South Africa can only result in mutual goodwill, if it is wisely directed and based on truth and non-violence. I have no doubt that those South African Indians who seek to create a division will do harm to themselves and to the great cause of liberty for which the movement of Satyagraha has stood and must stand. To the Satyagrahis I would advise strict adherence to the fundamentals of Satyagraha which literally means force of truth and this is forever invincible. It is a good sign that they have a progressive European group solidly behind them. The Satyagrahis should know that they have India at their back in their struggle for preserving self-respect.