JINJA, Uganda: Vice President Hamid Ansari today paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at the source of river Nile here in which part of his mortal remains were immersed in 1948, hailing the Father of the Nation as one of the strongest links between India and Africa.
Ansari, who arrived in Uganda on February 21, planted a sapling after offering flowers at the bust of the Mahatma in Jinja, which is a hub of the Indian community in Uganda.
The bust was installed by the Indian government and inaugurated by then Prime Minister I K Gujral in 1997. It sits amid cool climes and verdant surrounding, and postured in a pensive mood. The plaque below reads: “Universal apostle of peace and non-violence whose ashes were immersed in the River Nile in 1948.”
The vice president was received here by Jinja MP Moses Balyeku and Mayor of Jinja municipality Majid Batambuze.
Asked by reporters if this place could be turned into a tourism spot, Ansari said, “This is already a world tourism spot and both the countries will continue to engage to promote this site.”
Ansari, who is accompanied by wife Salma, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, four MPs – Kanimozhi, Ranvijay Singh Judev, Ranee Narah and P K Biju, later also visited the source of the Nile River.
Ansari is in Uganda as part of his two-nation visit to the African continent. He visited Rwanda during the first leg of his tour.
This is India’s first bilateral visit to Uganda since 1997 and seeks to further engage India with Africa.
Gandhi’s thoughts remained one of the dominating elements in Ansari’s several addresses, including the one at the University of Rwanda, where he emphasized the shared link of anti-colonialism struggle and fight against discrimination.
“India owes an unforgettable debt of gratitude to Africa’s role in inspiring our struggle for national liberation. It was on this continent that Mahatma Gandhi developed and first practiced the concepts of non-violence and peaceful resistance that won India its freedom,” he had said.
Soon after departing from India, Ansari while interacting with reporters on board the special aircraft had said, “One does not have to reiterate the role played by him and he is a very strong link between India and Africa. And, we are going to the source of the River Nile in Jinja where his bust is installed.”
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday at a joint press conference also hailed the role of Gandhi in South Africa and the spirit of non-violence and peace that continues to inspire people in India and Africa.
Incidentally, a life-size statue of Gandhi, unveiled by President Pranab Mukherjee last year in Ghana had kicked up a row, with a few students demanding its removal. Ansari had said the demand was “very local and very sporadic” and one need to reiterate his role.–PTI