Mahatma Gandhi was not just father figure for India, but a human reformist who strived to make the human civilization better by fighting injustices of his times like colonisation, racism and instilled pride in one’s own tradition and culture. Gandhi’s message of non-violent resistance as a strategy for bridging social and economic inequalities stands out even today in the age of globalisation as the world is witnessing rising class and regional inequalities and an alarming increase in the use of violence as a tool to suppress and revolt.
For the developing traditional societies, his principles of non-violence, Satyagraha and respect for traditional skills and self-reliance through principles of Khadi are of utmost importance today. Satyagraha and Khadi continue to be relevant for marginalised groups look for redeeming their rights. For activists and communities striving for equities, the Gandhian methods are still the guiding principle and philosophy for socio-political work spanning across two continents in Africa and India.
Afrikahdi as concept was born out this reality which dawned on few individuals in 2003 in South Africa and in India. The centenary of Gandhi’s first journal-The Indian Opinion- brought people across continents together to launch an initiative “Afrikahdi”, and over the years it has imbibed Khadi as a philosophical position and has been engaged in furthering its impact in our times, especially in making the philosophy available to the young generation.
AfriKhadi began as a development program for the promotion of crafts and arts though design interventions between South Africa and India. The project seeks to apply a contemporary relevance to craft through positive design interventions, whilst remaining rooted in tradition, custom and valuing indigenous knowledge. This is a collaborative initiative between inspired by the Khadi Movement of Mahatma Gandhi, the man who propounded the essential freedom struggles of both India and South Africa. In India, it aims to make Khadi movement contemporary and popular among the youth. In South Africa, it aims to provide a model for revival and popularisation of traditional crafts through design interventions.
It is fitting therefore that in celebration of a Gandhian century (his Indian Opinion and Phoenix in South Africa) in 2003, and the 10th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, that AFRIKHADI was launched as an Indo-South African collaborative venture in 2003 at Durban, South Africa. None-other than President of South Africa Mr Tabo Mbeki, who received the Gandhi Peace of Award for the year, too attended the launch function. Both the Indian and South African designers and craft people worked to launch this trans-continental initiative.