Tolstoy Farm and the Satyagraha House

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments


photo: Gandhi Tolstoy Farm June 1912 – Gandhi, Kasturba and Sonia Schlesin (extreme right)

June 9, 2014: We visited the Tolstoy Farm. Gandhi attributes the success of the final phase of the Satyagraha campaign in South Africa between June 4, 1908 and 1914 to the “spiritual purification and penance” afforded by the Tolstoy Farm.  It became the home for supporters of the Satyagraha movement.  It was a simple life. 

He wrote: “I have serious doubts as to whether the struggle could have been prosecuted for eight years, whether we could have secured larger funds, and whether the thousands of men who participated in the last phase of the struggle would have borne their share of it, if there had been no Tolstoy Farm.”     

In the Indian Opinion newspaper of June 18, 1910, Gandhi describes the farm as follows. “It is nearly 1,100 acres in extent or 508 morgen, being nearly two miles long and three quarter broad. It slopes down a hill from South to North and is, therefore, well protected from the South-East winds.

“There are nearly 1,000 fruit-bearing trees … peaches, apricots, figs, almonds, walnuts, etc., and a small plantation of wattle [acacia] and eucalyptus trees. The ground is fertile. Water is supplied from two wells as also a spring.

“Beyond a shed and a dilapidated house containing four rooms and a kitchen, it contains no structure worth naming.” (M. K. Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa)

.After our visit at Tolstoy we will make our way back to Johannesburg.  In spite of the injustices, discrimination and incarceration, Gandhi loved Johannesburg. In his farewell speech on the eve of his departure from South Africa he said Johannesburg was the place where he found his precious friends, and where the foundation was laid of the great struggle of passive resistance.  “Johannesburg therefore had the holiest of all holy associations”, he said. 

On July 18th 1914, Gandhi left South Africa for the last time when he set sail for England, en route to India.  Gandhi lectured on Hinduism at the Masonic hall and his farewell banquet before leaving Johannesburg in 1914 was held in the hall.  Gandhi left his passive resistance philosophy of Satyagraha in South Africa, which was adopted by the African National Congress and used in mass anti-apartheid Campaigns. Reference

We did not have a chance to explore the Satyagraha House Hotel and Museum in 2014 due to renovations. This was Gandhi’s home in Johannesburg from 1908 to 1909. He shared the house and garden with his friend Hermann Kallenbach, living a life of simplicity, physical exercise, meditation and celibacy.  We visited the Satyagraha House on subsequent trips in 2015 and 2018.

Satyagraha House Hotel and Museum

sat house












The Kathrada Foundation is working to restore the Tolstoy Farm as a place of remembrance.


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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