French tour agency buys Gandhi's South African home
Mahatma Gandhi's former home in South Africa has been sold to a French tour agency that wants to turn it into a museum and guest house, the former owner and the company said Friday.Johannesburg - Mahatma Gandhi's former home in South Africa has been sold to a French tour agency that wants to turn it into a museum and guest house, the former owner and the company said Friday.
Voyageurs du Monde has bought the house that India's spiritual and political icon temporarily called home, the former owner Nancy Ball told AFP.
"At first, I did feel I had to make a bit of a mental adjustment because I'd always thought it would go to an Indian. But having met the people from the Voyageurs du Monde, they were so passionate about Gandhi and about this house and the future," she said.
"He does want to keep it a sort of heritage site and development aspect of it. Really, we're quite delighted".
The company's CEO Jean-Francois Rial told AFP in Paris that the house would become a museum and guesthouse, but said the firm was ready to hand it over to India if the government expressed an interest.
"It's an historic home," he said, noting that Gandhi had written his benchmark works on non-violence there. "We want to make a small museum and a small guesthouse."
The renovation would "create a space that respects and magnifies the memory of Gandhi," he added.
A civil rights activist who guided India's independence movement, Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 and spent his early years here as a young lawyer, where racism and prejudice shaped his role as a social activist.
Gandhi had his political baptism in South Africa, where he lived on-and-off for 21 years, intersected with stays in Britain and India.
The Johannesburg residence up for sale was built by his friend and confidant the architect Hermann Kallenbach, and was his home between 1908 and 1910.
One of the only places Gandhi stayed that has not been demolished, the house is called the Kraal, or the cattle pen, because of the blending of European and African architecture.