Ela Gandhi receives international mediation team in Durban, South Africa, to discuss post-conflict rehabilitation

On Monday, 17 October 2022, Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, received Dr Mohamed Keshavjee, international cross-cultural specialist on mediation, at Phoenix Farm in Durban. Dr Keshavjee was leading a multi-national team of mediators visiting South Africa to study the pathology of conflict.

Dr Keshavjee, member of the Steering Committee of British Ugandan Asians at 50 (BUA50), was on a visit to South Africa to deliver a lecture commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Ugandan Asian expulsion of 1972.

The team comprising two Canadians — lawyer-mediator Richard Harding and his wife Dr Gwyneth Meyer, an education design specialist, and Ray Virani of Atlanta Georgia, held a meeting with Judge Narandra “Jody” Kollapen of the Constitutional Court, Judge Albie Sachs, one of the architects of the South African constitution, and Ela Gandhi who runs Phoenix Farm which provides rehabilitation for violence. They also met Professor Ashvin Desai of the University of Johannesburg and Dr Devi Rajab, a well-known psychologist, writer and Fulbright scholar. Dr Keshavjee, during his visit, highlighted that “the pathology of conflict has to be carefully studied if we want to engender better racial relations in the future.”

Dr Keshavjee at the lecture session in Durban with Ela Gandhi. Third from left is Fulbright scholar and educational psychologist Dr Devi Rajab who organised the programme which was a one hour conversation between Mohamed Keshavjee and Professor Karthi Govender (far left )a former Commissioner of Human Rights on the South African Commission of Human Rights.
Mahmoud Rajab a former member of Parliament is on the far right. Standing near him is Navanethem Pillay, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights. Photo credit: Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee

At Phoenix Farm, Ela Gandhi exhibited slides of victims of violence in 2021, and emphasized that there were casualties on both sides — Africans and Asians. She said that the violence was not necessarily racial, as the media had portrayed it, but was more an expression of socio-economic deprivation and frustration in a society still suffering from the effects of apartheid, and where inequality is still so highly racialized.

Ela Gandhi leads Mohamed Keshavjee to the Inspiration Room at Phoenix Farm where she was born. Photo credit: Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee
Ela Gandhi and Mohamed Keshavjee reading some of the sayings of Mahatma Gandhi adorning the room. Photo credit:Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee

On 18 October, the team flew to Cape Town, where they visited Robben Island, and were shown how, through the spirit of working together during the struggle, different races were able to sustain hope that eventually led to the dismantling of apartheid. Peering into Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, Dr Keshavjee remarked that Mr Mandela, on his release had examined his cell and decided that he did not want to be bound to this experience for the rest of his life. He realized he had to forgive in order to liberate himself from the bondage of hatred and to help the entire nation to heal.

Mohamed Keshavjee peering into the cell of Nelson Mandela at Robben Island. Mandela he feels extricated himself from the bondage of hatred by forgiving the past. Photo credit:Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee
Mohamed Keshavjee and Mr Williamson former inmate and now tour guide discussing on how Nelson Mandela used the vineyard behind to smuggle his manuscript out of the prison. The spot is called ” vineyard of reflection.” Photo credit:Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee

In Cape Town, the team also met Judge Albie Sachs and discussed the role of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Judge Sachs spoke about his own experience and described how he was able to deal with his own trauma through forgiving the man who was responsible for a bombing attack in which he lost an arm and an eye.

Albie Sachs presenting a recent book on Oliver Tambo to Mohamed Keshavjee following discussions with the international team on transitional justice that Keshavjee led to South Africa. Photo credit:Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee
Albie Sachs with the international team on transitional justice comprising DR Gwyn Meyer well known Canadian educationist Richard Harris Lawyer mediator Mohamed Keshavjee specialist on cross cultural mediation and Ray Virani veteran trainer in the Ismaili CAB (Conciliation and Arbitration Board) training programme. Photo credit:Gwyn Meyer – Ray Virani and Mohamed Keshavjee

Earlier that week, at a function organized by Dr Devi Rajab in Durban, Dr Keshavjee spoke about the Ugandan expulsion of 1972 and its impact on Asian minorities in different parts of Africa. This was in conversation with Dr Karthi Govender, a well-known administrative law professor and former head of the South African Human Rights Commission. The event was attended by Ela Gandhi, Navanethem Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Thumba Pillay and other well-known personalities representing the Durban civil society.

Virtual Panel Discussion
On Sunday 6 November, Dr Keshavjee will be leading a virtual discussion on a programme set up by the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board UK (ITREB UK) as part of its Heritage Programme reflecting on the emergence of a new Ismaili diaspora in the northern hemisphere as a consequence of the Ugandan Asian Expulsion of 1972. The speakers will be Amin Mawji OBE, Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Uganda , Jalal Jaffer, lawyer and KC of Vancouver, Canada, Arafat Jamal, diplomat and UNHCR Representative in South Sudan and Mr Mahmood Ahamed, former diplomatic representative of the AKDN in Uganda and current Chairperson of the Aga Khan Foundation UK. According to Dr Keshavjee the Ismaili narrative has to be told and who better than the present panel, who, in one way or another has been involved in resettlement and institution-building programmes for over 50 years. The link for the programme is


Meeting ID 914 6354 0756
Passcode 506711
Time: 7:30 p.m. GMT

(Sunday, 6 November)

Registration is not required

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.