South African President Cyril Ramaphosa leads annual 'Gandhi Walk'
(Sourced from PTI)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa led nearly 5,000 people at the annual 12km long "Gandhi Walk" in Lenasia, an Indian township south of Johannesburg, seeking to promote community awareness and fitness among his countrymen. This was the first time that a sitting head of the state joined the walk, now in its 33rd consecutive edition, Gandhi Walk Committee Chairman Amit Parbhucharan said. Here's more.
The theme of the walk was "Going Green", with a strong focus on environmental initiatives and promoting community awareness. Others who joined Ramaphosa were India's High Commissioner to South Africa, Ruchira Kamboj, American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, and popular Gandhi look-alike Harshvardhan Pitambar.
"Thank you for inviting me and making me part of this great and wonderful Gandhi Walk and especially with the man himself standing here right next to me Mahatma Gandhi," Ramaphosa told the cheering crowd as he pointed to Pitambar. Pitambar looked the spitting image of Gandhi in his dhoti, complete with bald head, round glasses, and a walking stick.
"Although we have had a wide range of celebrities and leaders over the years, including the legendary Madiba (Nelson Mandela), we are elated that for the first time a head of state joined the actual Walk," Gandhi Walk Committee Chairman Parbhucharan said.
The walk was first started as a small fundraiser to complete the Gandhi Hall in Lenasia. The hall was built after original Gandhi Hall in central Johannesburg was demolished when the Indian community was forcibly resettled in Lenasia by the white-minority apartheid government laws. In the Johannesburg Hall, Gandhi mobilized the local community to resist discriminatory laws during his tenure in South Africa.
Although scores of professional athletes from across the country and abroad joined the walk, it was billed more as a family fun day, with senior citizens, parents pushing babies in prams, and even people in wheelchairs joining one of the two events, a 6km and a 12km walk. The walk was followed by a full day of entertainment, with stalls offering free health checks.