Sangomas at Dawn

The Durban beachfront and its warm and inviting ocean is a mecca for all walks of life: Stroll along a Durban beach at dawn, and you may see a group of Zulu sangomas (traditional healers), their beads and buckskin adornments covered in brightly colored cloth, wading into the ocean to collect seawater to be used in muti (traditional medicines) to protect crops. An estimated two-thirds of South Africans regularly consult sangomas, and recently even large pharmaceutical companies have been tapping into their knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants.

The Making of Mahatma: Gandhi's Turning Point

On June 7, 1893, a young lawyer named Mohandas Gandhi, recently arrived in Durban, found himself stranded at the nearby Pietermaritzburg Station after being ejected from a whites-only first-class carriage. He spent the night mulling the incident over in the waiting room, and, according to the great man himself, "[his] active nonviolence started from that day." Mohandas (later to become Mahatma) was to spend the next 21 years peacefully fighting the South African laws that discriminated against Indians before leaving to liberate India from English rule. If for some reason you find yourself in Pietermaritzburg, you can visit the platform where Gandhi was unceremoniously tossed (at the seedy end of Church St.), the Gandhi statue (near the City Hall end of Church St.), or the Natal Museum, 237 Loop St. (, with exhibits on Gandhi.

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