"SEEDS OF DEMOCRACY" EXHIBITIONS, ENANDA, DURBAN


 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, three remarkable men chose to settle in Inanda outside Durban, on properties that bordered one another. Close by was the Inanda Seminary for Girls, founded some thirty years earlier by American Congregationalist missionaries. Mahatma Gandhi, Isaiah Shembe and John Langalibalele Dube were of a similar age: Shembe (1870-1935), Gandhi (1869-1948); and Dube (1871-1946). While Dube came from eNanda, Shembe grew up around Harrismith in the Drakensberg, and Gandhi in India. All of them chose to establish their respective settlements in eNanda, in close proximity to one another. While they each brought different and unique experiences to the place, they also shared important values and influenced each other in an amazing network of cross-pollination.

Dube, Gandhi, Shembe and the community of the Inanda Seminary were more than neighbours. They shared a deep spirituality, a lively social conscience, a commitment to hard work, a hunger for education, and an intense concern for the weakest and poorest in society. Even though it was impossible at that time to predict the profound influence these men, and the Seminary, would have on the religious, social and political landscape in South Africa, the seeds of democracy were scattered here, to slowly take root and spread. Inanda was a place that held the promise of a different kind of society; one where diversity is celebrated rather than feared, and where all people are free, equal and empowered to reach their full potential.

The lives and legacy of the respective founders of these sites on the Inanda Heritage Route, form the structure of the heritage interpretation framework for the exhibitions. These include two exhibitions at MK Gandhi’s Ashram at Phoenix, two exhibitions at JLM Dube’s Ohlange Institute, one exhibition at the Inanda Seminary and one exhibition at eKuphakameni, one of the main centres of the Shembe faith.

The six exhibitions, commissioned by eThekwini Municipality and conceptualised, designed and built by Totem Media, tell an extraordinary story that goes to the heart of Indian, African traditional, Christian missionary and resistance cultures as they played out in South Africa over the last hundred years.  


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