It was to a balmy but welcoming atmosphere that the Indian community in Nigeria welcomed friends of India on Lagos Island to commemorate the 150th posthumous birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, one of the most influential and inspiring personalities in the world today.
Organised by the office of The High Commission of India, Lagos, the special event also marked the International Day of Non-violence as recognised by the UN General Assembly; and was an occasion to disseminate the message of non-violence through education and public awareness.
During the special event, videos on Mahatma Gandhi on his initiatives and the lessons from his life, which inspired many across the world, were also played.
According to the organisers, the ideas of truth, openness, dialogue and non-violence espoused by Gandhi, provide the best way forward for a world confronted with intolerance, bigotry and terrorism. They declared that his values and his vision are more relevant today than at any time before in a world desperately searching for permanent solutions to conflicts and tensions.
The organisers also shared heartwarming personal messages with the members of the Nigerian community, mostly consisting of students and business associates of Mahatma Gandhi, fondly known as ‘Bapu’, on his birth anniversary. This included world famous quotes: First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win; Be the change you wish to see in the world; The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others, and many others.
The discussion also touched on world leaders and thinkers who were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi including beloved American Civil Rights leader; Martin Luther King Jnr., Giant of the 20th Century anti-colonial struggle and great leader of the South African people and of the world, Nelson Mandela and scientist, Albert Einstein, who was a personal friend of Gandhi’s.
Others inspired by the global political figure include former US Vice-President and environmentalist; Al Gore, former US President; Barrack Obama, former Emperor of Ethiopia; Haile Selassie, Nobel prize winning Irish playwright and passionate socialist; George Bernard Shaw, the third Secretary-General of the United Nations; U Thant, as well as founder of Global Technology Corporation, Apple Inc., Steve Jobs.
In a gripping depiction of the life of Gandhi, Nigeria’s Light Years Production treated the excited audience to a drama featuring landmarks such as the famous train journey in Durban, South Africa in 1893, the Indian Independence Movement, The Salt March to Dandi in 1930 and the 1942 ‘Quit India’ Revolution.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was born to a middle class family on 2nd October 1869 at Porbandar, a coastal city in the Indian state of Gujarat. Said to be an ordinary child, it is believed that his mother played a key role in shaping his life and career.
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Ghandi was shot on a platform from which he was to address a prayer meeting in Birla House, India, on the 30th of January, 1948, and died instantly.
The evening was wrapped up with networking between the two communities while guests were treated to sumptuous Indian delicacies.