Lessons From Auntie Ela

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After spending a morning with Ela Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, one comes away a little humbler and a little more focused on celebrating the ordinary.

Ela Gandhi at Phoenix-settlement
Ela Gandhi at Phoenix-settlement

Ela Gandhi, or ‘Auntie Ela’ as she is known by the tourist guides at the Phoenix Settlement outside Durban, is just what I had hoped she would be. She drove up to the parking lot of the settlement in a modest car, stepped out in a lovely green sari and greeted me with a soft, lilting voice and a firm handshake. Although she is in her 70s, there is no mistaking Auntie Ela’s life force, her love for telling her family’s story, and the need to share the life of her incredible grandfather, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi, with others.

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