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Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 12:59 UK

India may buy Gandhi Africa home

Mohandas Gandhi in South Africa, 1902
Gandhi fought for the rights of Indians in South Africa

India's coal ministry says it plans to buy a house in South Africa where independence hero Mahatma Gandhi lived.

The building would be turned into a memorial, officials said.

The house was put up for sale in July after the owner said she failed to find an institution interested in preserving the building's legacy.

Gandhi is thought to have lived there for three years from 1907 - when he began to formulate his philosophy of non-violent resistance.

He lived in South Africa for 21 years, working as a lawyer and activist.

He fought for the right of Indians in the country to be treated as citizens - a feat he eventually achieved before returning to his homeland.

GANDHI IN SOUTH AFRICA
1893 Arrives in South Africa
1894 Natal Indian Congress is established
1903 Weekly newspaper Indian Opinion starts
1907 Non-violent resistance against compulsory registration of Asians
1914 Returns to India

"I came to know through newspapers that the house of Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg, where he spent some years, is up for sale," the Press Trust of India quoted India's Minister of State for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal as saying.

"The coal ministry intends to purchase the house and build a memorial on it," he said.

The minister said directions had been given to the officials of the ministry to purchase the house "at any cost".

Mr Jaiswal said he would visit South Africa along with the officials of the government-owned company Coal India Limited later this month to finalise the deal.

The minister said if any other person or Indian organisation offered to purchase the house to turn it into a memorial to Gandhi, Coal India would back out.

Mahatma Gandhi is revered as the father of the Indian nation and correspondents say the coal minister's offer to buy the house appears to be an emotional response.

American artist Nancy Ball has lived in Gandhi's Johannesburg house for 25 years, but is now moving away.

She told South African paper, The Times, that Indians who had visited the house had always found it an interesting experience.

"We believe he left a lot of his peace here. It's a very special place," she said.



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Gandhi S Africa house up for sale
27 Jul 09 |  Africa
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