Jazz festival ends year of celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary in South Africa

NEW DELHIUpdated: Sep 29, 2020, 06:19 AM IST

Mahatma Gandhi. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

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The Gandhi Walk Committee organised a blood donation camp where donors could just drive through a facility that had been set up without having to join the queues.

A community-based organisation in South Africa hosted a unique Jazz festival as the last of a series of diverse events held over the past one year to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Gandhi Walk Committee (GWC) in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, hosted the festival at the weekend in the sprawling, mainly Indian township adjacent to the Tolstoy Farm, the huge commune that was started by Gandhi during his tenure in Johannesburg at the turn of the last century.

The Tolstoy Farm is currently undergoing a revamp, led by the Mahatma Gandhi Remembrance Organisation and the Indian missions in Johannesburg and Pretoria, after lying derelict for decades.

"The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown put a damper on all our planned activities for the past six months, including the annual Gandhi Walk in April, when plans were far advanced for over 3,000 people to participate again," said GWC chairman Amit Parbhucharan.

"We spent time in the lockdown virtually planning a range of events for when we were out of it, and propitiously, when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to the lowest level of the lockdown and public events with limited audience numbers could be done, we implemented some of these plans,” Parbhucharan said.

In the months before the lockdown, the GWC organised tree planting functions, a cycle ride through the area and food donations, the last continuing throughout the lockdown.

"All this and our events of the past two weeks was to remind people of how Gandhiji had embraced the diversity of human endeavour," Parbhucharan said.

The GWC organised a blood donation camp where donors could just drive through a facility that had been set up without having to join the queues or having to make contact with other people, as is usually the case at such camps.

In a style reminiscent of the drive-in theatres of days gone by, only 50 cars, each with a maximum of four people, were allowed into the parking area of the Gandhi Hall, where a large stage had been set up for several individual artists and groups to give their performances.

The funds raised were distributed to two local organisations that undertake various community initiatives.

"We were initially sceptical about this new genre of entertainment meeting with support from the community of Lenasia, who are very used to Bollywood and other similar entertainment, but the fact that we were sold out within just a few hours of announcing the event showed that the community was yearning to have something like this on their doorstep.

"Unfortunately, we had to turn away many more people because of the limitations of the COVID-19 regulations," Parbhucharan said.