Ramaphosa defends ‘complex legacy’ of Gandhi and Mandela

Mahatma Gandhi has often been criticised for working with the British colonial government to promote racial segregation in South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa inspects the guard on the occasion of the State Visit to the Republic of India. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered the inaugural Gandhi-Mandela Memorial Freedom Lecture, urging people to understand the complex legacy of the two leaders.

The president delivered the address in India on Friday on the sidelines of his state visit to the country.

This year marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi that coincides with former President Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebrations.

Mahatma Gandhi has often been criticised for working with the British colonial government to promote racial segregation in South Africa.

While Nelson Mandela is often described by some as a sell-out, who gave in too much during the negotiations with the apartheid government.

But President Ramaphosa says people must understand legacy is a complex phenomenon: “Both of these great leaders entered the political arena at the time that was vastly different to ours. The issues they advocated for and how they articulated them, the political positions that they took and the political decisions that they made will always be subject to interpretation.”

Ramaphosa says Gandhi and Mandela were passionate about fighting against the oppression of black people.