Peace walk fol­lows foot­steps of Gandhi

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - LUKE FOLB

SIX men braved heavy rains, soar­ing tem­per­a­tures, heavy fog and steep hills walk­ing across South Africa – all in the name of spread­ing peace and the ideals of Ma­hatma Gandhi and Nel­son Man­dela to all they en­coun­tered.

The men want to draw the world’s at­ten­tion to the two states­mens’ life mes­sages and to take ac­tion for a peace­ful co-ex­is­tence for both mankind and na­ture.

Nitin Son­awane, Yo­gesh Mathuria, Ja­land­har­nath Chan­nole, San­gram Patil, Dilip Eam­bolker of In­dia and Kan­shin Ikeda of Ja­pan be­gan their walk on Oc­to­ber 2, the 149th an­niver­sary of Gandhi’s birth.

The five walked from Con­sti­tu­tion Hill in Joburg to Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, the birth­place of Man­dela.

To­day, Son­awane and Ikeda will walk from the Nel­son Man­dela statue at city hall to the Hare Kr­ishna Tem­ple in Ron­de­bosch, which is a three-hour walk to­talling 14 km. The pair de­part at 8am.

Son­awane, 27, hails from Pune in In­dia. Over the past 23 months, he has trav­elled across 18 coun­tries to­talling 20 000 km.

Ikeda, 39, is a Bud­dhist monk whose guru in­ter­acted with Gandhi.

“It’s a way to con­nect with the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and it’s some­times very hard to see how some peo­ple live,” said Son­awane.

He said the men ini­tially car­ried their own tents and sleep­ing bags.

“Once we made con­nec­tions with peo­ple, we ar­ranged for them to carry our lug­gage to our next des­ti­na­tion ahead of time. We slept with fam­i­lies, at tem­ples and churches, po­lice sta­tions and camp­ing grounds,” said Son­awane.

The group be­gan the South African leg of their World Peace walk­ing tour from Con­sti­tu­tion Hill in Joburg des­tined for Mvezo.

The walk­ing group vis­ited other parts of the coun­try on their way to Man­dela’s home, in­clud­ing Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and Phoenix Set­tle­ment in Durban, which was es­tab­lished by Gandhi.

“We planned to do the peace pil­grim­age in South Africa, where two great lead­ers shaped the his­tory of mankind through non-vi­o­lence,” said Son­awane.

“Our peace pil­grim­age is to share the life message of Gandhi and Man­dela while walk­ing in the foot­steps of the two great lead­ers who changed the world by pure love.

“Both iconic lead­ers in­spired us to work for equal­ity, free­dom and jus­tice.”

Af­ter com­plet­ing their jour­ney, Mathuria, Chan­nole, Patil and Eam­bolker re­turned to In­dia while Son­awane and Ikeda re­mained be­hind and trav­elled to Cape Town ar­riv­ing on Fri­day.

The men plan to con­tinue their peace walks start­ing with walks through 20 African coun­tries with Zim­babwe serv­ing as the de­par­ture point on De­cem­ber 18 with the aim of com­plet­ing their African leg by Oc­to­ber 2, 2019 be­fore head­ing to Europe.

The group plans to end their walk­ing tour on Gandhi’s 151st birth­day on Oc­to­ber 2, 2020 in Pak­istan.

PEACE walk­ers: Nitin Son­awane, Ja­land­har­nath Chan­nole, San­gram Patil, Yo­gesh Mathuria, Kan­shin Ikeda and Dilip Eam­bolker.

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