Call to revive Gandhi's Tolstoy Farm in South Africa
The Times of India Sun, 01 Apr 2012
JOHANNESBURG: Calls to revive the Tolstoy Farm, a desolate area which once was a thriving commune run by Mahatma Gandhi, renewed during the annual Gandhi Walk here.
Several speakers at the 27-year-old annual Gandhi Walk hosted yesterday in Lenasia, the sprawling mainly Indian suburb south of here, said the organisers should find a way to link the annual event to the nearby Tolstoy Farm.
Over 2,000 people participated in the walk. Mahatma Gandhi had set up the Tolstoy Farm as an experiment in community living during his tenure in Johannesburg at the turn of the last century.
The event was started as a fundraiser for building a new Gandhi Hall in Lenasia after the original Gandhi Hall in the Johannesburg city centre had to be sold in the 1970's because it fell into a designated white area under the draconian Group Areas Act of the then white minority government.
Tolstoy Farm, less than ten kilometers from the Gandhi Hall, has fallen into disuse after the last residents left the area in the 1970's.
Despite valiant efforts to revive some activity there, especially by Gandhian enthusiast Mohan Hira, who formed the Mahatma Gandhi Remembrance Organisation, constant vandalism has left a bare shell there.
Now the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation wants to find ways of turning Tolstoy Farm into a legacy project, with the Indian High Commission pledging support as well.
Referring to an earlier meeting between community organisations and Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta on the issue of Tolstoy Farm, acting Indian Consel-General in Johannesburg Nandan Bhaisora called for a follow-up: "We would like to take some further action on this and hope that something works out.
"Coal India has already assured us that it will be funding the project, so we should take it forward."
However, the idea to rejuvenate the farm situated on the outskirt of the city also met with some scepticism as it is now part of a brick-making company.