International Day of Non -Violence: The relevance of Gandhi's teachings to contemporary Kenyans
Celebration to mark the International Day of non violence was held at the University of Nairobi on 2nd October, 2022.The day marks 153rd birthday day of Mahatma Gandhi, the architect and founder of non-violence philosophy.
The Indian High Commissioner Designate, Ms.Namgya Khampa led guests that included the Deputy Governor of Kirinyaga County Mr. David Wachira, Justice Sharad Rao former chairman of Judges and Magistrates vetting panel , diplomats, scholars and university students.
The ceremony commenced with the guests paying their tribute to the Gandhi statue at the University of Nairobi. The High Commissioner observed that Gandhi's influence permeated the whole world including East Africa. His ideology of peace and non violence is still being felt today. Gandhi influenced freedom fighters in East Africa to fight against discrimination. Kenya's freedom fighters like J.M .Dessai and Harry Thuku were influenced by Gandhi. Harry Thuku infact proclaimed himself as the Gandhi of East Africa.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Prof.Julius Ogeng'o, Prof.Stephen Kiama the VC of the University of Nairobi observed that Gandhi's philosophy is relevant today in a world where violence is rife. The Vice Chancellor said academic excellence is allergic to violence. Universities as centres of academic excellence must avoid all forms of extremism and violence including intellectual violence. He advocated for a culture of Peace, tolerance and inclusivity in academic institutions.
History Scholar Dr. Keneth Ombongi noted that it was a day to remember. A day to remember life and messages of a great man whose legacy endures even today. Gandhi's philosophy and ideology transcended his country and inspired struggles for freedom across the globe including Kenya. He saw the way humanity are tied together. His philosophy transcended divisions and politics. Today his teachings are relevant when we experience conflicts and extremism etc. Prof. Ombongi argued that Africa played a big role to his greatness. The younger generations in Africa should dedicate themselves to promoting peace and tolerance and bequeath it to the future generations.
Dr. Keneth Ombongi contends that Gandhi spent 21 years in Africa. In his formative years as lawyer, he was given to Africa by India but Africans gave back Mahatma to India. He was a moralistic and a crusader of freedom. Paradoxically, he was assassinated by a bullet.
In a world that is currently in distress, full of anger and consternations, self service to humanity, his teachings bear a lot of relevance to our materially deprived world. Gandhi did not build an economic empire but only did simple acts of kindness and charity. Dr.Ombongi urged the audience to always give without remembering and always receive without forgetting.
Sharad Rao, on his part observed that Gandhi discarded all forms of western GARMENTS ,violence and hypocrisy. Paradoxically, Gandhi was assassinated by Hindu Extremists five months after India's independence in 1948.
The University of Nairobi owes its origins and existence to the Indian Community's resolve to establish a Gandhi Memorial College of Arts and Management. The Indian community's idea of a Gandhi College was supported by the colonial government to start the Royal Technical College in 1956 which evolved to become the University of Nairobi in 1970.