Durban: Reflecting the age-old ties between India and South Africa, a leading university here is introducing a new chair dedicated to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and anti-apartheid activist Chief Albert Luthuli.
The Gandhi-Luthuli Chair for Peace Studies will be sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the University of KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Dasarath Chetty said.
Chetty said the academic programme was a vision of the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he visited the former Indian-dominated University of Durban-Westville in 1997.
The university has now merged with the University of Natal and the new entity is called University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Chetty said Professor Makgoba would sign an MoU with the Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Pavan Varma, in New Delhi last week.
“The idea was first mooted by Ela Gandhi, who is a grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi”, said Chetty.
“The programme will start early next year for two years. We envisage the chair becoming permanent, with the possibility of establishing a Centre for Asian Studies.”
Professor Makgoba said: “It is only appropriate that the chair be located at the University of KwaZulu-natal. For, it was here in KwaZulu-Natal that Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement started and Chief Luthuli’s defiance programme was based.”
Luthuli, who led the African National Congress for over a decade, was awarded the Nobel prize in 1960.