Day One in Durban South Africa

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

DSC02487May 31, 2014 Opening day of the first Satyagraha Tour of South Africa, we paid a visit to the Durban Institute of Technology, a school attended by Steve Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness Movement. Ela Gandhi formerly served as Chancellor of this University and responsible for organizing the event. The occasion was an annual speech and essay contest for seventh graders throughout the Durban region.  The students were offered the opportunity to present essays and/or speeches either in Zulu or English.   

We arrived a bit late, the competition was already in progress.  Satish (the son of Arun and Ela’s oldest sister Sita Gandhi) handled the media coverage, older students acted as the official judges, and Ela’s organization, “The Phoenix Development Trust” sponsored the event. 

We walked in as one of the students was in the heart of delivering her speech in ZuluI did not DSC02494understand what she was saying, but she exemplified confidence, power, charisma, and when she said various words, she made sounds I was not familiar with that were absolutely magical.  A click sound was the first thing I noticed.

The children that delivered their speeches in English were amazingly astute; one student addressed the current South African President Zuma’s controversial financial expenditures on his home, clearly stating that those dollars should have been allocated to people who still need toilets, water, electricity or access to education.

As the competition continued each student spoke with impressive confidence, dignity, and great conviction.  It was empowering to hear what was in the minds and hearts of the young seventh grade South African students. The topics the students chose from included leadership, democracy, and respect.  


One student confidently and briefly states, “What it means to respect and to be kind in leadership roles includes incorporating these same qualities into how we treat one another. Demonstrating good morals and values is equally important as well. Caring about the environment is another important quality in order to be a good leader.  Thank you for listening to my views on leadership.”

What are the challenges of Democracy? 

 Zolo begins by stating that, “Democracy is a form of government, in which people choose who should hold the powers of the state, and how it should be governed.”   She goes onto say that it has been accepted as the best type of government in the modern world although it has challenges.  “America, India and South Africa, are some of the countries with a democracy.” 

 Democracy has challenges such as corruption and inefficiencies.  “Growing economic and social inequalities amongst people, capitalism and criminal activities, as well as social elements are examples.”  She said, “corruption and inefficiencies drive political dishonesty and politicians do not do their duties, they only satisfy their own political agendas.”

 “The biggest challenges of democracy are the growing economic and social inequalities amongst the people.  Only people with lots of money to affect the vote are the ones who win elections.  The poor are forced to sell their vote in order to fulfill their honest life of work for food and shelter.  The rich people are elected as representatives in the legislature, once they get elected the people loose favor in them.  Inequality amongst the rich and the poor citizens add to the challenges of democracy.”

 The role of social elements in democracy –  Zolo went on to say that, “the notion of honor is the right from the people of dissimilarities and inequalities.  When inequality grows the idea of honor fails.  Even in America women are highly respected and have great esteem.  South Africa believes that both genders are equal and have the same duties in life with equal roles in government.  Hence, women are considered to be more superior to men.”

 Capitalism and Criminals – “In India during the election a large number of voters give way to the cast who are high ranking classes of the people, the Brahman.  These representatives work on behalf of their cast and religion not considering what is best for the whole nation.  This is similar to South Africa, where leaders are selected based on preferential treatment.  I am grateful to be able to share my views on democracy, thank you!”

 Caring about the Environment

Another young girl in the seventh grade addressed the environment, with her hand held over their heart, she confidently states; “motherland earth, what a beautiful earth we have…  It gives us energy and happiness every day.  The trees, the nature we have gives us oxygen.  Without oxygen our trees, plants, or we, wouldn’t survive.  Let’s save our energy, let’s save our earth, let’s go green.  Without the earth, we would not be living or surviving, we would be dead.  People care for your plants, and start growing your plants, so you get more oxygen, so you can live and survive, thank you very much.”


A young girl named Tensia, gave a speech whose topic was respect. “What is Respect?  Respect is to honor and appreciate the things you have.  Respect the diversity, pluralism, justice, freedom, tolerance and human rights.   To honor our elders and our beautiful country South Africa.   To respect and be thankful, to our leaders, not only do we have to respect our leaders, but also acknowledge them, follow in their footsteps.  To also be obedient, and have tolerance.  Respect also has to do with language, the way you speak to one another.  It also has to do with you being loving, to honor what you have, with and around you.  My question to you today is, do you have and show respect?”

 Technology Today

A young girl named Nolo begins to discuss the influence technology today has on relationships and society.  She says, “imagine walking into a room to find your father on his iPhone, your mother on her computer, and your sister on her cell phone, think about it, do you really call that being “social?”  She said, “technology today has created a life that is “anti-social.”  She says, “I have 420 friends, yet I am lonely, I talk to them every day, but yet I do not see them.  I walk into a taxi, then take out my phone, I don’t say hello, in the fear of looking mad.  Children these days, don’t play on swings, I  walk by the park and see the emptiness, it gives me the chills.”  Nolo said, “you cannot be a quality connected parent if you cannot entertain or excite your children without using an iPad.  Put your phones down and look around, see the impact of technology today, and what it has done and is doing to this world, our relationships and our society we once called social.  Thank you for allowing me to share my views.” 


The top award presented to the overall winner of the speech and essay contest honors Ela Gandhi’s son Kush who fought for human dignity and peace, who was murdered during Apartheid.  He is the only other Gandhi family member who lost his life for the cause.  The Gandhi Development Trust awarded the first, second, and third prize winners a cash prize and their school received a matching cash award.  First prize to the student and school was $300 US each.  All the students received a certificate for participating. Arun Gandhi presented the top award to the winner of the speech and essay competition. We ended day one with our official opening dinner over a wonderful India food feast getting to know one another better.


lynnea2 The BoardLynnea Bylund is managing director of Gandhi Legacy Tours, Director of Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, founder of Catalyst House and has nearly three decades of experience in administration, marketing and business development. She was a nationally recognized spokeswoman for the emerging alternative video and information delivery industries. She has a degree in holistic health-nutrition from the legendary and controversial health educator and activist Dr. Kurt Donsbach, she is the founder of two not-for-profit small business-based wireless trade associations and has lobbied on Capitol Hill and at the FCC where she has spoken out strongly against the cable TV monopoly, illegal spectrum warehousing and ill-conceived congressional schemes to auction our nation’s precious airwaves to the highest bidder.

Ms. Bylund is a founder and former CEO of a Washington DC telecommunications consulting and management company with holdings in several operating and developmental wireless communications systems and companies. In 1995 Lynnea became the first female in the world to be awarded a Broadband PCS operating permit – she was one of only 18 winners, along with Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon in the biggest cash auction in world history, raising a whopping $7.7 billion. Lynnea also spear-headed the successful effort to launch the first cable TV network in the South Pacific islands.
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