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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


DHUPELIA-MESTHRIE, Uma. Satyagraha in South Africa: Principles, practice and possibilities. Historia [online]. 2009, vol.54, n.1, pp.13-33. ISSN 2309-8392.

This article elucidates the key principles of satyagraha by noting how they evolved during the campaign of 1906 to 1914. It then seeks to analyse the extent to which the essence of satyagraha survived in struggles between 1915 and 1952. It argues for a recognition of earlier acts of satyagraha before the 1946-1948 passive resistance campaign. The article also examines the relevance of satyagraha in contemporary struggles over AIDS treatment and housing struggles. While the evidence suggests that there was a strong influence of satyagraha on several struggles in the 1930s to the 1950s, not all its principles were accepted and there was a whittling down and reshaping of its meaning. There were but a few adherents of satyagraha in its fullest meaning by the 1950s. Satyagraha has relevance for contemporary struggles largely because the wielder retains a strong moral high ground, but non-violent protest needs to be heeded by the democratic state. Gandhi's abhorrence for a society based on unequal wealth and his concern for the poor have important contemporary relevance.

Keywords : Aids activism; anti-eviction campaign; defiance campaign; fasts; Gandhi; housing struggles; hunger strikes; informal settlements; non-violence; passive resistance; satyagraha.

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