16 Nov Happy Indian Arrival day
Honouring those who walked before us…
This year, 16th November 2020, is the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the Indian indentured labourers and thus the birth of this wonderful family orientated community in South Africa.
The majority of Indian South Africans are the descendants of indentured workers who were brought to KZN between 1860 and 1911, to work on the farms and develop the sugar industry in this province.
The first 342 of these came on board the Truro from Madras followed by the Belvedere from Calcutta.
Many Indians agreed to become indentured labourers to escape the widespread poverty and famine in their home country; some travelled alone while others brought their families to settle in the colonies they worked in.
The Indian population in South Africa is mainly concentrated in Kwa-Zulu Natal’s largest city, Durban, which has the most substantial Indian population in Africa. South Africa, in general, has a substantial Indian population, with over 1 million people of Indian descent.
Most Indian labourers did not return to India after working off their debts, they established themselves as an important labour force in KZN, particularly as industrial and railway workers, with others engaging in farming and growing most of the vegetables consumed by the South African population.
They also became fishermen, clerks in the postal service and court interpreters, there were others who initially worked in Durban, later moving inland to the Transvaal (now Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West) establishing communities in settlements on the main road between Johannesburg and Durban.
What started as a trip of desperation has ultimately led to something triumphant and poetic in a way, as well as their beautiful rich heritage contributing to the multi-cultural diversity of South Africa, the Indian population has also brought with them service to all South Africans, colourful traditions, their humility towards their plight and their dedication to labour.