Gandhi and African BlacksChapter 1
"Mahatma" Gandhi Unveiled
by Naresh Majhi
To understand Gandhi's role towards the blacks, one requires a knowledge of Hinduism. Within the constraints, a few words on Hinduism will suffice: The caste is the bedrock of Hinduism. The Hindu term for caste is varna; which means arranging the society on a four-level hierarchy based on the skin color: The darker-skinned relegated to the lowest level, the lighter-skinned to the top three levels of the apartheid scale called the Caste System. The race factor underlies the intricate workings of Hinduism, not to mention the countless evil practices embedded within. Have no doubt, Gandhi loved the Caste system. Gandhi lived in South Africa for roughly twenty one years from 1893 to 1914. In 1906, he joined the military with a rank of Sergeant-Major and actively participated in the war against the blacks. Gandhi's racist ideas are also evident in his writings of these periods.
One should ask a question : Were our American Black leaders including Dr. King aware of Gandhi's anti-black activities? Painfully, we have researched the literature and the answer is, no. For this lapse, the blame lies on the Afro-American newspapers which portrayed Gandhi in ever glowing terms, setting the stage for African-American leaders Howard Thurman, Sue Baily Thurman, Reverend Edward Carroll, Benjamin E. Mays, Channing H. Tobias, and William Stuart Nelson to visit India at different time periods to meet Gandhi in person. None of these leaders had any deeper understanding of Hinduism, British India, or the complexities of Gandhi's convoluted multi-layered Hindu mind. Frankly speaking, these leaders were no match to Gandhi's deceit; Gandhi hoodwinked them all, and that too, with great ease. Understanding of Hindu India with our black leaders never really improved even considering years later in March 1959, much after Gandhi's death, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife, and Professor Lawrence D. Reddick visited India and to our way of analysis, they fared no better than their predecessors. We are certain, had Dr. King known Gandhi's anti-black and other criminal activities, he would have distanced his civil-rights movement away from the name of Gandhi. We recommend the following:
1. Grenier, Richard. The Gandhi Nobody Knows published in Commentary March 1983; pages 59 to 72. This is the best article on Gandhi briefly outlining his war activities against the blacks.
2. Kapur, Sudarshan. Raising up a Prophet: The African-American Encounter with Gandhi; Boston: Beacon Press, 1992 Excellent research book into the perspective of distant American blacks with respect to their new hero, Gandhi. However, this book has one major flaw: The author seems to be unaware of Gandhi's anti-black activities in South Africa.
3. Huq, Fazlul. Gandhi: Saint or Sinner ? Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya Akademy, 1992. Superb book. Really gets into the Gandhi's anti-black ideology with a sense of history setting intact. This book can be purchased from the International Dalit Support Group, P.O Box 842066, Houston, Tx 77284-2066.
This book's second chapter on 'Gandhi's Anti-African Racism' is a superb analysis of Gandhi's anti-black thinking. We bring to you the whole chapter for your review:
Gandhi was not a whit less racist than the white racists of South Africa. When Gandhi formed the Natal Indian Congress on August 22, 1894, the no. 1 objective he declared was: "To promote concord and harmony among the Indians and Europeans in the Colony." [Collected Works (CW)1 pp. 132-33]
He launched his Indian Opinion on June 4 1904: "The object of Indian Opinion was to bring the European and the Indian subjects of the King Edward closer together." (CW. IV P. 320)
What was the harm in making an effort to bring understanding among all people, irrespective of colour, creed or religion? Did not Gandhi know that a huge population of blacks and coloured lived there? Perhaps to Gandhi they were less than human beings.
Addressing a public meeting in Bombay on Sept. 26 1896 (CW II p. 74), Gandhi said:
" Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness."
In 1904, he wrote (CW. IV p. 193):
It is one thing to register natives who would not work, and whom it is very difficult to find out if they absent themselves, but it is another thing -and most insulting -to expect decent, hard-working, and respectable Indians, whose only fault is that they work too much, to have themselves registered and carry with them registration badges.
In its editorial on the Natal Municipal Corporation Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 18 1905 wrote:
" Clause 200 makes provision for registration of persons belonging to uncivilized races (meaning the local Africans), resident and employed within the Borough. One can understand the necessity of registration of Kaffirs who will not work, but why should registration be required for indentured Indians who have become free, and for their descendants about whom the general complaint is that they work too much? " (Italic portion is added)
The Indian Opinion published an editorial on September 9 1905 under the heading, "The relative Value of the Natives and the Indians in Natal". In it Gandhi referred to a speech made by Rev. Dube, a most accomplished African, who said that an African had the capacity for improvement, if only the Colonials would look upon him as better than dirt, and give him a chance to develop self-respect. Gandhi suggested that "A little judicious extra taxation would do no harm; in the majority of cases it compels the native to work for at least a few days a year." Then he added:
" Now let us turn our attention to another and entirely unrepresented communityó-the Indian. He is in striking contrast with the native. While the native has been of little benefit to the State, it owes its prosperity largely to the Indians. While native loafers abound on every side, that species of humanity is almost unknown among Indians here.
Nothing could be further from the truth, that Gandhi fought against Apartheid, which many propagandists in later years wanted people to believe. He was all in favour of continuation of white domination and oppression of the blacks in South Africa.
In the Government Gazette of Natal for Feb. 28 1905, a Bill was published regulating the use of fire-arms by the natives and Asiatics. Commenting on the Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 25 1905 stated:
" In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian ? "
Here is the budding Mahatma telling the white racists how they can perpetuate their Nazi domination over the vast majority of Africans.
In the British imperialist scheme, one important strategy was to divide and rule. Gandhi advised Indians not to align with other political groups in either coloured or African communities. In 1906 the coloured people in the colonies of Good Hope, the Transvaal and the Orange River colony, addressed a petition to the King Emperor demanding franchise rights. The petitioners showed clearly that, in one part of South Africa, namely the Cape of Good Hope, they had enjoyed the franchise ever since the introduction of representative institutions.
Commenting on the petition, the Indian Opinion of March 24 1906, declaring that "British Indians have, in order that they may never be misunderstood, made it clear that they do not aspire to any political power," added:
" It seems that the petition is being widely circulated, and signatures are being taken of all coloured people in the three colonies named. The petition is non-Indian in character, although British Indians, being coloured people, are very largely affected by it. We consider that it was a wise policy on the part of the British Indians throughout South Africa, to have kept themselves apart and distinct from the other coloured communities in this country."
In a statement made in 1906 to the Constitution Committee, the British Indian Association led by Gandhi (CW. V p.335) said:
" The British Indian Association has always admitted the principle of white domination and has, therefore, no desire, on behalf of the community it represents, for any political rights just for the sake of them. "
Commenting on a court case, the Indian Opinion of June 2 1906, in its Gujrati section, stated:
" You say that the magistrate's decision is unsatisfactory because it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate's decision is quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. * Thanks to the Court's decision, only clean Indians (meaning upper caste Hindu Indians) or coloured people other than Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams. (Italic portion is added)
Apartheid defended: Gandhi accepted racial segregation, not only because it was politically expedient as his Imperial masters had already drawn such a blueprint, it also conformed with his own attitude to the caste system. In his own mind he fitted Apartheid into the caste system: whites in the position of Brahmins, Indian merchants and professionals as Sudras, and all other non-whites as Untouchables.
Though Gandhi was strongly opposed to the comingling of races, the working-class Indians did not share his distaste. There were many areas where Indians, Chinese, Coloured, Africans and poor whites lived together. On February 15 1905, Gandhi wrote to Dr. Porter, the Medical Officer of Health, Johannesburg (CW. IV p.244, and "Indian Opinion" 9 April 1904):
" Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension."
Dr. Porter replied that it was the Indians who sub-let to Africans.
Commenting on the White League's agitation, Gandhi wrote in his Indian Opinion of September 24 1903:
" We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do, only we believe that they would best serve these interests, which are as dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race."
Again, on December 24 1903, Indian Opinion stated:
"The petition dwells upon 'the comingling of the coloured and white races'. May we inform the members of the Conference that so far as British Indians are concerned, such a thing is particularly unknown. If there is one thing which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is the purity of type."
In his farewell speech at a meeting held in the house of Dr. Gool in Capetown, which was reported in the Indian Opinion of July 1 1914, Gandhi said:
" The Indians knew perfectly well which was the dominant and governing race. They aspired to no social equality with Europeans. They felt that the path of their development was separate. They did not even aspire to the franchise, or, if the aspiration exists, it was with no idea of its having a present effect."
Gandhi joined in the orgy of Zulu slaughter when the Bambata Rebellion broke out. It is essential to discuss the background of the Bambata Rebellion, to place Gandhi's Nazi war crime in its proper perspective.
The Bambatta Rebellion--Background
The spiritual foundation of Nazism was the superiority of the Aryan race or its modern version, the Anglo-Saxon race. When Disraeli was Prime Minister, Britain enunciated a doctrine, like the Monroe Doctrine, warning other European powers that Africa would be a British preserve, and that from the Cape to the Limpopo, if not to Cairo, only white people would have local political power. Successive British Governments pursued this policy.
In the 1870s, the Zulu Kingdom was by far the most powerful African State of the Limpopo. Cetewayo, who succeeded his father in 1872, was an able and popular ruler. He united the kingdom and built up a most efficient army. He followed a policy of alliance with the British Colony of Natal. The Zulu Kingdom and the Boer Republic of the Transvaal had been feuding for a long time. The Zulus were defeated twice by the Boers, in 1838 and 1840. By 1877 Cetewayo was ready to invade the Transvaal. But the British stepped in and annexed the Transvaal in 1877, only to prevent Cetewayo from doing it first and becoming powerful and a challenge to white supremacy.
Some contemporary reports throw light on the relative strength of the Zulus and their Boer enemies. Colonel A.W. Durnford wrote in a memorandum on July 5 ("The Secret History of South Africa" by Abercrombe. The Central News Agency Ltd., Johannesburg South Africa. 1951 p.6):
About this time (April 10th) Cetewayo had massed his forces in three corps on the borders, and would undoubtedly have swept the Transvaal, at least up to the Vaal River if not to Pretoria itself, had the country not been taken over by the English. In my opinion he would have cleared the country to Pretoria.
Shepstone, the British Administrator, himself wrote concerning the reality of the danger on Dec. 25 1877:
The Boers are still flying, and I think by this time there must be a belt of more than a hundred miles long and thirty broad in which, with three insignificant exceptions, there is nothing but absolute desolation. This will give some idea of the mischief which Cetewayo's conduct has caused.(Ibid p.7).
The above facts explode the myth that the British protected the Zulus from the Boers.
British barbarity on Blacks: After annexing the Transvaal, Shepstone turned his attention to destroying all the independent African states in that region, particularly the Zulu Kingdom. Before annexation of the Transvaal, Shepstone sided with the Zulus in their border disputes with the Transvaal. After annexation he made a volte-face and used those disputes as excuses to invade Zululand. The British public was told that the Zulu War was to liberate the Zulu people from a tyrannical ruler, and South Africa from a menace to "christianity and civilisation".
In 1879, the British invaded the Zulu Kingdom and defeated Cetawayo. Then they started their complete subjugation. First the army was broken, thus destroying their ability to defend themselves. The country was then split into thirteen separate units under the nominal control of the chiefs, salaried by the Government. The white magistrates supplanted the chiefs as the most powerful men in their districts. Most important of all, the land was partitioned. Before the war, Shepstone had expressed the hope that Cetewayo's warriors would be "changed to labourers working for wages". It makes a sad story, how this was accomplished. In 1902-4, the Land Commission delineated a number of locations for the Zulus, and threw open the rest of the country to white settlement. Out of a total acreage of more than 12 million acres, the Africans held some 2 million acres. They numbered, at the lowest reckoning, over three hundred thousand. The Europeans, who were less than 20,000, owned most of the best land. A large proportion of the African population was forced to live upon land to which it had no legal claim. Where the Africans lived upon private or crown lands, they lived there entirely upon sufferance and without legal title. By this time, other independent African states in that region were also destroyed by the British army. Wheresoever, they marched, in Basutoland, Zululand or Bechuanaland, the Queen's horses and the Queen's men were like unto a "Salvation Army" ministering to the welfare of the colonists. The sufferers were the Africans.
Gandhi wrote in his Satyagraha in South Africa (p.15):
" The Boers are simple, frank and religious. They settle in the midst of extensive farms. We can have no idea of the extent of these farms. A farm with us means generally an acre or two, and sometimes even less. In South Africa, a single farmer has hundreds or thousands of acres of land in his possession. He is not anxious to put all this under cultivation at once, and if any one argues with him he will say, 'Let it lie fallow; lands which are now fallow will be cultivated by our children'."
Also in his Indian Opinion (March 15 1913), he wrote:
" General Botha has thousands of acres of land ... (there is) a big company in Natal which has hundreds of thousands of acres of land."
Thou shalt not steal but rob.
It did not seem to occur to Gandhi how these people came into possession of thousands of acres of land, whereas Africans were cooped in locations like chicken in pens.
Grabbing the land was not enough: it needed manpower to cultivate that land. The cry of the farmers was for labour. Naturally it found a favourite response from Shepstone, whose dream it was to convert Cetewayo's warriors into labourers for white men. His native policy was to meet the demands of the European farmers. He agreed that Europeans could not expand or grow in wealth unless they could draw more fully upon the reservoirs of labour in the African reserves.
In the process of European colonisation, the swiftly expanding land-hungry Europeans turned the bulk of the African population into a proletariat. Due to the congestion and landlessness in the reserves, created deliberately by the white rulers, their agricultural return was not sufficient for bare existence. Then there were the taxes on huts, cattle and what not. On the other hand, working for white men did not provide them with adequate sustenance. In Natal, the sugar farmers of the coast relied upon the Indian indentured labour, whereas the stock farmers of the interior relied exclusively on Africans, and regarded the failure of Africans to work for them as a criminal offence. In a report to the Chief Commissioner of Police in 1903, the Police Inspector W.F. Fairley wrote: "With regard to crime, the principal complaints made by Dutch farmers to patrols was of the refusal to work on the part of the natives." (Department Reports 1903 p.67 cited "Reluctant Rebellion" by Marks p.17. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1970). Complaints about the shortage of African labour were voiced in all parts of the country. The farmers were later joined by the mining industries. The most obvious change was the broadening of the economic base from being entirely agricultural to one in which mining played a more and more important part. Diamond, gold, coal became major industries, and with this development, the deeper involvement of the big finance houses, particularly Rothschilds. So the fate of the Africans as the source of cheap labour, and the fat dividends derived from mining by the British ruling class, became interlinked. This still continues in a modified form. Now it is Anglo-American corporations.
Cheap labour from IndiaEuropeans assumed that Africans lived only to meet their requirements of cheap labour, and as such they had no right to establish themselves as self-sufficient and independent farmers because this conflicted with European interests. Famines in India facilitates the recruitment of indentured Indian labourers for white employers in the Colonies. It was no different in relation to Africans. In a Report of the Native Affairs Commission, (Native Affairs Commission Report 1939-40 cited "Oxford History of South Africa" p.182. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969) it was admitted that "African reserves were regarded by whites as reservoirs of labour, and congestion, landlessness and crop failure were welcomed as stimulants to the labour supply". Similar situations among whites were viewed as national calamities. The Government lent millions of pounds to white farmers, gave them tax relief in times of famine, paid subsidies, facilitated the export of their produce, and wrote off their debts. But what about Africans? Famine would be rampant, crops ruined, food exhausted, thousands of Africans and their cattle would starve to death, but the government would not raise a finger.
The whites not only stole the land from the Africans, and used them as cheap labour, but also looked to them for revenue. They drew a relatively large and growing income from the Africans. "The Native population of Natal", Shepstone admitted ("Imperial Factor" by De Kieweit p.193. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1970), "contribute to the revenue annually a sum equal, at least, to that necessary to maintain the whole fixed establishment of the Colony for the government of the whites as well as themselves." Taxation is a financial measure to gather revenue to meet the expenditure of the state. But in South Africa it was used to reduce Africans to slavery. The sole motive behind the extra taxation imposed on Africans was to force the Africans to work on terms dictated by the whites.
Always there was resentment against any measure which would allow the Africans to settle in locations instead of keeping them as labourers. It was not only the farmers' conferences, the press owned by the mining magnates joined the outcry of the farmers to enact special laws to compel the Africans to come out of their locations and work for the whites. The press was in the forefront to arouse the sentiments that Africans not in European service were necessarily living in idleness. Gandhi's Indian Opinion played second fiddle to the white press in this respect. To Gandhi, the imposition of taxes upon the Africans to compel them to work for the white employers was "gentle persuasion".
By a stroke of the pen, the major part of the available land was taken away from the Zulus and given to Europeans. Some of the dispossessed Zulus were allotted locations and others remained on the land of European landlords on sufferance. Bambata was one of these unfortunate chiefs. He became Chief in 1890 and he and his people were placed in private locations on very high rents. The land was useless for any agricultural purpose. To make things worse, the Boer farmers suspected Bambata of informing the British about their pro-Boer activities, and naturally they tried to victimise him and his people. But after the war, the British rulers leaned backwards and went out of their way to kiss and hug the Boers. So Bambata was caught in a cleft stick. By 1905 the tension between Bambata and his white landlords reached crisis point. The Assistant Magistrate of Greytown, H. Von Gerard, wrote to the Under Secretary of Native Affairs recommending the allocation of a location for his people. Gerard described how people were being oppressed and squeezed by the landlords, what useless land it was for agricultural purposes, and how summons after summons was being issued against people who were unable to pay high rents. Finally he remarked ("Reluctant Rebellion" by Marks. P.201):
A most desperate state of affairs, the more so as there seems no remedy for it....My sympathies with Bambata's people...but I see no way out of the difficulty.
The military and civilian leaders of Natal were consciously developing a picture as if an uprising was imminent. Not that they could foresee one, but they wanted to foresee one because that would give them a golden opportunity to inflict severe punishments on Zulus who, according to the colonists, were growing insolent. They drew up a plan to deal with this imaginary uprising swiftly, and all agreed that was the way they could save not only Natal but North Africa from the "barbarities which only the savage mind can conceive." (Ibid p. Xvii)
Zulu Revolt: But outside Natal, people were not so sure. Styne, President of the Orange Free State, called it "hysteria". Smuts, Botha and Merriman expressed concern as to whether the whites of Natal would spur a rebellion. Some churchmen and many radical humanitarians in Natal, as well as England, produced volumes of irrefutable evidence proving that it was a conspiracy to goad the Zulus into rebellion and then massacre them. In this, Hariette Colenso, the famous daughter of a famous father, Bishop Colenso, made the most outstanding contribution. There was a cry of imminent native revolt in the press long before active rebellion broke out.
As far back as 1902, Lieu. G.A. Mills in his report (GH18/02. Cited "Reluctant Rebellion" p.158) to the Chief of Staff, Natal, on July 1 informed him:
Every Boer expresses the most bitter hatred of the Zulus. They all express a wish that the Zulus would rise now while the British troops are in the country so that they may be practically wiped out. The Boers all say that in the event of the rising, every one of them would join the British troops in order to have a chance of paying off old scores against the Zulus. When I first came here, I visited farms and asked the Boers what they thought of the advisability of keeping troops here. They all said it was most necessary, as they were afraid of the Kaffirs and it would not be safe to stay on their farms if the troops withdrew.... Taking everything into consideration, I cannot help being forced to the opinion that many Boers intend to provoke a Zulu rising if they can do so.
It was Colonel Mackenzie, the military supremo before the rebellion, who was prophesying a native uprising and cleaning the barrels of his guns to use the "golden opportunity" to inflict "the most drastic punishment" on leading natives he found guilty of treason, and to "instill a proper respect for the white man". (C.O. 179/233/12460. Dispatch 9.3.06 cited "Reluctant Rebellion" p. 188).
On June 14, Charles Saunders, Chief Magistrate and Civil Commissioner in Zululand (1899-1909) wrote to C.J. Hignet, the magistrate of Nqutu ("Reluctant Rebellion" p.241):
I quite agree with your conclusions as to our men trying to goad the whole population into rebellion, and you have no idea of the difficulties we had in Nkandha in trying to protect people one knew perfectly well were faithful to us.
In his communication of July 10 1906 to the Prime Minister, (PM 61/15/66 Governor to PM 10.7.06) the Governor described the "sweeping actions and the mopping-up operations as continued slaughter. Fred Graham, a permanent civil servant in the Colonial Office, in his Minute of July 10, described it as "massacre".
Nazism & racism: The most revealing was the long letter of July 24 1906 (CO 179/236/24787 minute 10-7-06) sent by the Anglican Archdeacon, Charles Johnson, from St. Augustine's in Nqutu division, to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in London. He was a man of the British establishment and not known to have excessive zeal for standing up for the rights of the Africans. He wrote (cited "Reluctant Rebellion" p. 241):
Many thinking people have been asking themselves, what are we going to do with his teeming population? Some strong-handed men have thought the time was ripe for solving the great question. They knew that there was a general widespread spirit of disaffection among the natives of Natal, the Free State and the Transvaal, but specially in Natal, and they commenced the suppression of the rebellion in the fierce hope that the rebellion might so spread throughout the land and engender a war of practical extermination. I fully believe that they were imbued with the conviction that this was the only safe way of dealing with the native question, and they are greatly disappointed that the spirit of rebellion was not strong enough to bring more than a moiety of the native peoples under the influence of the rifle. Over and over again it was said, 'They are only sitting on the fence, it shall be our endeavour to bring them over'; and again, speaking of the big chiefs, 'We must endeavour to bring them in if possible! Yes, they have been honest and outspoken enoughó-the wish being father to the thoughtó-they prophesied the rebellion would spread throughout South Africa; had they been true prophets, no doubt the necessity of solving the native question would have been solved for this generation at least.
John Merriman was a veteran Cape politician. He was one of those so-called liberals who accepted Nazism as a doctrine, or in other words Anglo-Saxon superiority, but regretted its consequent atrocities and thus fumigated their consciences. He wrote to Goldwin Smith (Merriman papers NHo. 202, 16.9.06 cited "Reluctant Rebellion" p.246) in September 1906:
We have had a horrible business in Natal with the natives. I suppose the whole truth will never be known, but enough comes out to make us see how thin the crust is that keeps our christian civilisation from the old-fashioned savageryómachine-guns and modern rifles against knobsticks and assagais are heavy odds and do not add much to the glory of the superior race.
In the letter of the Archdeacon the expression "practical extermination", and in a letter of Lieutenant Mills "practically wiped out", have been used. This was what the German Nazis wanted to do to the Jews: to exterminate them. Does it make any difference whether the victims of racial slaughter are Jews or blacks?
Conspiracy to massacre Blacks: Gandhi was well aware of the conspiracy to massacre the Africans. When there was war hysteria in the colonial press, this prophet of non-violence did not apply his mind as to how to stop such a conflict. On the contrary, he did not want Indians to be left behind, but wanted them to take a full part in this genocide.
In his editorial in the Indian Opinion of Nov. 18 1905, long before the actual rebellion broke out, Gandhi complained that the Government simply did not wish to give Indians an opportunity of showing that they were as capable as any other community of taking their share in the defence of the colony. He suggested that a volunteer corps should be formed from colonial-born Indians, which would be useful in actual service.
Indentured Indians lived in conditions worse than slavery. Gandhi during his 20 years' stay in South Africa, did not raise a finger to ease their sufferings. But he was quick to suggest using them as cannon fodder for racists against Africans.
In his Indian Opinion in Dec. 2 1905 he referred to Law 25 of 1875 which was specially passed to increase "the maximum strength of the volunteer force in the colony adding thereto a force of Indian immigrant volunteer infantry". To assure the Europeans that such Indians would only kill Africans, he pointed out that "section 83 of the Militia Act states that no ordinary member of the coloured contingent shall be armed with weapons of precision, unless such contingent is called to operate against other than Europeans".
Gandhi defends massacre: Many years later, he wrote (p.233) in his autobiography:
" The Boer War had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything like the vividness that the 'rebellion' did. This was no war but a man-hunt, not only in my opinion but also in that of many Englishmen with whom I had occasion to talk. To hear every morning reports of the soldiers' rifles exploding like crackers in innocent hamlets, and to live in the midst of them, was a trial."
Then to justify his participation in this massacre, he went on (Autobiography p. 231):
" I bore no grudge against the Zulus, they had harmed no Indian. I had doubts about the 'rebellion' itself, but I then believed that the British Empire existed for the welfare of the world. A genuine sense of loyalty prevented me from even wishing ill to the Empire. The righteness or otherwise of the 'rebellion' was therefore not likely to affect my decision."
What about the Nazi war criminals? Did they not have a genuine sense of loyalty to Hitler and Nazism?
In Great Britain another storm of protest was raised against the atrocities perpetrated in Natal. The only time Gandhi mentioned the Zulu suppression was on August 4 1906, when he wrote in his Indian Opinion:
" A controversy is going on in England about what the Natal Army did during the Kaffir rebellion. The people here believe that the whites of Natal perpetrated great atrocities on the Kaffirs. In reply to such critics, the Star has pointed to the doings of the Imperial Army in Egypt. Those among the Egyptian rebels who had been captured were ordered to be flogged. The flogging was continued to the limits of the victim's endurance; it took place in public and was watched by thousands of people. Those sentenced to death were also hanged at the same time. While those sentenced to death were hanging, the flogging of others was taken up. While the sentences were being executed, the relatives of the victims cried and wept until many of them swooned. If this is true, there is no reason why there should be such an outcry in England against Natal outrages."
One may notice that the article was very cleverly written. First Gandhi stated that people in England believed that the whites of Natal perpetrated great atrocities on Africans, as if he himself did not know what happened, and also gave the impression that it was the local Natal Army and not the Imperial Army which was involved in the atrocities, which is not true. Even at this stage, he was not willing to tell the simple truth, that atrocities were committed. Then he borrowed the description of hanging and flogging in Egypt from the Star as if he did not know about that either. Did or did not Gandhi know that those Egyptians were not common criminals to be flogged and hangedóthat they were the patriots, the flowers of the Egyptian nation?
If Gandhi unequivocally accepted or found out that the Imperial
committed those atrocities, then he could not claim that he
British Empire existed for the welfare of mankind. The last and
of all was the subtle suggestion that if the Imperial Army did
were accused of doing, then there was no reason why there should
be such an
outcry in England against the Natal outrage. Why could
Imperialist-manufactured Mahatma not say clearly that both were
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