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Introduction To The Phoenix Settlement

The Phoenix Settlement, established by Gandhiji near Durban in 1904, was formally reopened on February 27, 2000, at a ceremony attended by the President of South Africa, the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and many other leaders.

The settlement - the first Ashram of Gandhiji - had been damaged in 1985 riots when some African squatters occupied much of the settlement, and named it Bambayi. Though the Indian community was deeply distressed, it refrained from seeking the forcible eviction of the squatters. The Phoenix Settlement Trust, with financial assistance from the Government of India, recently restored Gandhiji's house and established a clinic, an HIV/Aids Centre and other facilities to serve all the people in the area, African and Indian.

At the reopening ceremony, the Bambayi community leader, Victor Gambushe made an apology. He said: "I apologise for what we did and for taking over land that did not belong to us. I hope the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi will now rest in peace."

King Zwelithini expressed the hope that the settlement "will become a beacon of reconciliation and peace."