On Monday, 17 October 2022, Ella 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 Ella 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.”
At Phoenix Farm, Ella 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.
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.
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.
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 Ella 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
Time: 7:30 p.m. GMT
(Sunday, 6 November)
Registration is not required