Jan 29

The Phoenix Settlement

by in History & Memories

The Phoenix Settlement, established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904, is situated on the north-western edge of Inanda, some 20 kilometres north of Durban. Sita Gandhi writes “my grandfather’s farm … was fifteen miles away from the city, and in those days around us were plantations of sugar cane fields. Over 100 acres of land was called Phoenix Settlement. It was the most beautiful piece of land, untouched by the then racial laws.”
The Settlement, devoted to Gandhi’s principles of Satyagraha (passive resistance) has played an important spiritual and political role throughout its long history, promoting justice, peace and equality. Gandhi established the settlement as an communal experimental farm with the view of giving each family two acres of land which they could develop. He believed that communities like Phoenix which advocated communal living would form a sound basis for the struggle against social injustice. His granddaughter Ela Gandhi points out that Gandhi used the Settlement “to train political activists called satyagrahis as well as house their families, while they were engaged in the campaigns against unjust laws”. Her sister Sita describes the Phoenix Settlement as a lively, bustling community, a veritable kutum. Market gardens were established, their diary supplied milk to all the homesteads on the settlement as well as the neighbourhood, and they produced their own butter and ghee for domestic use. Everybody on the settlement had to participate in communal activities, such as the daily prayers and singing of hymns which Gandhi himself had instituted.

 

Related links

Mewa Ramgobin – South African History Online

Mewa Ramgobin: memories

Modern day Phoenix

 

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