Christian Rhetoric in Gandhi’s Satyagraha in South Africa The Indians Strike Back!
“We aspire not to equality but to domination. The country of a foreign race must become once again a country of serfs, of agricultural laborers, or industrial workers. It is not a question of eliminating the inequalities among men but of widening them and making them into law.” (Renan, La Réforme intellectuelle et morale, qtd. in Césaire 37)
The Colour Bar • “…the first batch of indentured labourers from India reached Natal on November 16, 1860, truly a fateful date for this history” (Gandhi 21). • Annual poll-tax on Indian labourers • 1894: government introduces acts that restrict Indian trade and immigration in Natal • Asiatic Department in Pretoria • Anti-Asiatic laws in the Transvaal • 1906: Indian registration ordinance • March 14, 1913: non-Christian marriages nullified
The Rhetoric of Satyagraha • appropriates the very same Christian teachings/philosophy Europeans used against Indians • allows Indians to reclaim their humanity and gain some measure of equality in South Africa
Césaire’s Equations Christianity = Civilization (human) Paganism = Savagery (not human)
Gandhi’s Syllogism All Christians are human. Gandhi is a Christian. Therefore, Gandhi is human.
Garrison’s Equations Violence & Dominance = Not Christian Peace, Love, Truth, Reason = Christian OUR COUNTRY IS THE WORLD; OUR COUNTRYMEN ARE ALL MANKIND UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION
Satyagraha: Etymology “The world rests upon the bedrock of satya or truth. Asatya meaning untruth also means non-existent, and satya or truth also means that which is. If untruth does not so much as exist, its victory is out of the question. And truth being that which is can never be destroyed. This is the doctrine of Satyagraha in a nutshell” (Gandhi 285).
Satyagraha: The March “They [Europeans] knew that we harboured no enmity in our hearts, intended no harm to any living soul and sought redress only through self-suffering. The atmosphere around us was thus purified and continued to be pure. The feeling of love which is dormant though present in all mankind was roused into activity. Everyone realized that we are all brothers whether we are ourselves Christians, Jews, Hindus, Musalmans or anything else” (Gandhi 300). “There is a law of nature that a thing can be retained by the same means by which it has been acquired. A thing acquired by violence can be retained by violence alone, while one acquired by truth can be retained only by truth” (Gandhi 338).
A New Syllogism? All Christians are human. Satyagrahis are Christians. Therefore, Satyagrahis are human.