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President Ramaphosa leads Gandhi Walk in South Africa

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
By Fakir Hassen

Johannesburg: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa led nearly 5,000 people at the annual 'Gandhi Walk' in Lenasia, an Indian township south of Johannesburg, seeking to promote community awareness and fitness among his countrymen.

This was the first time that a sitting head of the state joined the walk, now in its 33rd consecutive edition, Gandhi Walk Committee chairman Amit Parbhucharan said.

The theme of the walk was "Going Green", with a strong focus on environmental initiatives and promoting community awareness.

Ramaphosa was joined by India's High Commissioner to South Africa, Ruchira Kamboj, American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, popular Gandhi look-alike Harshvardhan Pitambar, and a host of other dignitaries to kick off the 12 km walk.

"Thank you for inviting me and making me part of this great and wonderful Gandhi Walk, and especially with the man himself standing here right next to me – Mahatma Gandhi," Ramaphosa told the cheering crowd as he pointed to Pitambar, who looked the spitting image of Gandhi in his dhoti, complete with bald head, round glasses and a walking stick.

Ramaphosa, a keen walker for health reasons, earlier said he was looking forward to his participation in the Gandhi Walk.

"The President subscribes to the values that the Gandhi Walk represents of creating community awareness and ensuring that we all take part in our nation-building project.

"But also, most importantly, promoting healthy lifestyles and ensuring that our communities are able to come together in a fun way," said his spokesman Khusela Diko in a statement from the Presidency.

"Although we have had a wide range of celebrities and leaders over the years, and the blessings of previous heads of state, including the legendary Madiba (Nelson Mandela), we are elated that for the first time a head of state joined the actual Walk," Gandhi Walk Committee chairman Parbhucharan said.

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