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SALT MARCH (article first published : 2005-03-14)

Marking the final event on the Easter cultural calendar, the symbolic Salt March takes place on April 10. Some 15 people will be running with a peace torch from Tolstoy Farm in Johannesburg to Phoenix Settlement to join this march.

The march will start from the Gandhi home at the Phoenix Settlement and proceed along the KwaMashu Highway towards the North Coast Road, then along the North Coast Road towards Umgeni Road, branching off into Riverside Road. It then moves alongside the Umgeni River, over the Umgeni Bridge to the Blue Lagoon and on to the Battery Beach opposite the site where Gandhiji’s ashes were immersed in the deep sea in 1948.

The background to the Salt March was the resolution at the All India Congress Conference in Lahore in December 1929. In rejecting the Dominion Status offered by the British to India, Gandhiji moved a resolution calling for complete Independence. The intention was to deprive the Government of its illegitimate monopoly of salt. It was believed that getting the Salt Tax abolished was the first step towards freedom.

On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi and thousands of supporters set off on this historic march which took 24 days and they walked just over 200 miles. The march was crucial to the eventual long drawn out settlement process between the Indian Congress and the British government.

For us in South Africa this is reminiscent of the many mass actions. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter and to popularize the charter it is important to understand and know about the struggles of South Africa’s people. This event will in some way begin the process of that understanding and knowledge.




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