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The Phoenix Settlement

When Gandhi decided that the Indian Opinion, his weekly paper, should be printed at a farm away from the city, he purchased an estate in Natal province, fourteen miles from Durban. This would be a place where everyone would labour, and draw the same salary. He called this the Phoenix Settlement. (Look up the word phoenix in the dictionary to find out its interesting meaning.)

It was desolate, overgrown with grass and trees, snake infested and suffered from severe winters as well as water scarcity. In this inhospitable area came and settled some Englishmen, a few Tamil and Hindi speaking people, one or two Zulus, and six Gujaratis.

Gandhi could not actually live on the land for long, but would visit it at frequent intervals. His visits were special occasions which the children of the Settlement eagerly looked forward to. He would laugh and play with them. The settlers would prepare special dishes, Gandhi relishing good food in those days, and eat together on Sundays.

The press-workers did all the work in the press themselves, bringing out the Indian Opinion. On nights when the final printing was done, they would need to stay up all night. To encourage them, kheer would be served!