Mohandas Gandhi

In South Africa: II

But his time in India was cut short by an urgent telegram summoning him back to South Africa. Since the end of the war, the British and Boers (now referred to as Afrikaners) had been restoring good relations, often at the expense of the Indian population. Now Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, had come to South Africa to finish the peacemaking. Gandhi returned in time to present Chamberlain with a paper outlining Indian grievances, but the Secretary remained unsympathetic. Britain planned for South Africa to become a self-governing colony along the lines of Canada and Australia, leaving power in the hands of the local (white-ruled) government. If the Indians wished to stay in Africa at all, Chamberlain hinted, they had better "placate" the Afrikaners.

So Gandhi, his hopes of post-war improvements dashed, went back to work. He set up camp in the Transvaal this time, deciding that his countrymen needed him more in that recently conquered region, and began representing Indians who had fled the Transvaal during the war and were now being overcharged for re-entry passes. When authorities dispossessed Indian inhabitants of a shantytown in order to clear the area for development, Gandhi represented these Indians as well. Collecting a staff around him that included several young women from Europe, he began (in 1904) the publication of a magazine, Indian Opinion, that agitated for political liberty in South Africa. The magazine soon found a readership throughout the country, and, with Gandhi writing the editorials himself, became both a vehicle for his fame and a wide platform for his ideas.