Peace walk follows footsteps of Gandhi
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.