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One of the Johannesburg homes in which Mahatma Gandhi lived is being restored and transformed into an unusual bed and breakfast, one that serves vegetarian food and comes complete with a museum.
VISITORS to Satyagraha Guest House in Orchards will experience Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of simple living.

Eric ItzkinEric Itzkin, the City's deputy director for immovable heritageThey will be able to meditate with no distraction from television sets or any other form of “noisy” entertainment. They will, however, be invited to read a good book from the well-stocked library, or study the onsite exhibition.
Only vegetarian food will be served.

Restoration of the house, and construction of new buildings will be wrapped up early June but the guest house will only be opened to the public in early October, according to the City’s deputy director for immovable heritage, Eric Itzkin.

He says the guest house will have lots of antique furniture, with some pieces collected in South Africa, some imported from India, and a bit of French flavour. The furnishings will be adopted from the early 20th century, even though not all of it will necessarily be originals.

Once complete, there will be eight rooms, each with a separate identity to honour Gandhi and his associates.

The Kraal, as the house was once called because of its combination of African elements in a European suburb, was home to Gandhi and his architect friend, Hermann Kallenbach, from 1908 to 1909. The rondavels were designed by Kallenbach.

Part of the original house will be used as an exhibition area, a library and meditation area. Itzkin explains that the exhibition will focus on the relationship between Gandhi and Kallenbach.

A worker puts final touches to one o0f the roomsA worker puts final touches to one of the rooms“This house is very important in telling the life story of Gandhi because he lived here at a time when he experienced a breakthrough in both his personal and political life,” Itzkin says. “Their way of life was started here and then continued to other parts of South Africa and then India.”
It was while living at The Kraal that both men changed their diet, politics and spiritual lives. It was also here that Gandhi developed his satyagraha philosophy. The philosophy focuses on leading a struggle without violence, with time given to meditation, prayer and fasting.

The City council’s chief Whip, Prema Naidoo, explains that it was these values that influenced the ANC’s earlier stand of non-violent protest against the apartheid government. He believes that Gandhi’s teachings are what today’s society needs to revive morals.

The house, 15 Pine Road, in Orchards, was bought by a French travel company, Voyageurs du Monde, in September of 2009, with the aim of turning it into a bed and breakfast museum, where people would be able to explore Gandhi’s principles.

The museum will be open at no cost to the public, but overnight visitors will be charged.

It was sold by Nancy and Jarod Ball, who lived there for 28 years. The couple raised their three children at the house, before they moved to Cape Town.

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