After finishing Law School in England Gandhi accepted an offer from a Muslim Indian firm to travel to South Africa for a year and advise on a lawsuit. At the time, the journey seemed merely a relief from the mediocrity of his professional life; in retrospect, however, it was one of the turning points of Gandhi’s life.
On the day of his farewell party, Gandhi became aware of an “Indian Franchise Bill” that was before the Natal legislature–a bill that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He was amazed to learn that no organized opposition to the bill existed, and when he asked his friends about it, they begged him to remain and assist them in the struggle. He agreed to stay, but for only a month–a month that became a year, then two; by the time Gandhi finally left South Africa for good, he had lived and worked there for the better part of twenty years. Gandhi has always been associated with India, and rightly so, but it is important to note that it was in this long, twilight struggle against the encroaching racism of South African politics that he first earned the title of “Mahatma,” or “Great Soul.”