Indians in South Africa – 150 years of toil and triumph

An Indian South African bride. Image from "Portrait of Indian South Africans" by Fatima Meer.
An Indian South African bride. Image from "Portrait of Indian South Africans" by Fatima Meer.
Hashim Amla celebrates another batting achievement
Hashim Amla celebrates another batting achievement

From “coolies” to Cabinet

When, on 16 November 1860, the S.S. Truro sailed into Durban Bay, Natal, an important new ingredient in the already heady cultural mix of South Africa was about to be added.

On-board the Truro were 342 people who had joined the ship in Madras (now known as Chennai), the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal, on 12 October 1860. They were leaving their situation of abject poverty in search of a better life.

The opportunity to seek a better life had come as a result of the Natal colonial government's Act No 14 of 1859 which, in response to the rapidly-growing labour demands of the burgeoning sugar industry of Natal, had made possible the recruitment of “coolies” in India to work in the cane fields.

The Truro was the first of 384 ships which brought indentured workers from India to South Africa. The last ship to arrive was the “Umlazi 43” in 1911. Those ships brought an estimated 152000 Indians to South Africa, where the Indian community has grown to be the largest outside of India itself.

Through the years the Indian community has made significant contributions to the cultural, social and political life of South Africa, adding a vibrant colour to the magnificent tapestry of people that populate the country.

Today there are Indian South Africans in the country's cabinet, notably the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan; an Indian South African is currently the top One Day International (ODI) cricket batsman, Mr Hashim Amla, who plays for the Proteas (South Africa's national cricket team).

The first Speaker of the first democratic House of Assembly (the lower House of Parliament) after the 1994 elections was an Indian South African, Dr Frene Ginwala. The first President of the Democratic South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela, appointed six Indian South Africans to his Cabinet, while many Indian South Africans were in the highest posts of the ANC.

Ms Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of the Mahatma and a Member of Parliament for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) summed up the cultural issue: “I am a South African; a very proud South African. The Indianness comes in at the level of culture, the way we eat, the kind of things we eat, the kind of things we appreciate – like music, drama, the language we speak. We only enrich our country by having all these different tastes and habits. What I am basically saying is that that is where the Indianness stops.”

The S.S. Truro
The S.S. Truro
"Coolies" coming ashore in Durban
"Coolies" coming ashore in Durban

The arrival of the S.S. Truro

When the Truro dropped anchor in the bay off Durban she had arrived earlier than expected and so the preparations for the reception of the indentured labourers had not been completed. As the local newspaper, the Natal Mercury , reported on 22 November 1860, “The barracks were not completed. Whoever expected they would be? Was any work, ever executed by any Government, ready for an emergency?”

As there was at that time no harbour for ships to dock in the passengers had to be brought ashore in smaller boats. The Natal Mercury reported the event: “There has seldom been such a crowd at the Point as there was on Saturday. The boats seemed to disgorge an endless stream of living cargo. Pariahs, Christians (Roman Catholics), Malabars, and Mahometans, successively found their way ashore. The major portion of this lot are, we understand, not so much field labourers, as mechanics, household servants, domestics, gardeners, and tradespeople. There are barbers, carpenters, accountants, and grooms amongst them. Among the women we find ayahs, nurses, and maids. It seems to be rather a heterogeneous assortment, comprising a few of all callings, than a supply of labour for the plantations ... They were all provided with two days’ rations from on board, consisting of rice, fish, ghee, and dholl. Each of them carried his household chattels in a teakwood box, and may appear to be flush with spare cash, which they immediately endeavoured to invest in the purchase of ‘something to warm them’.”

In fact, the religious groups of the passengers were 2 % Brahmins, 9 % Kshatriyas, 21 % Vaishyas and 31 % Sudras, 27% Scheduled Castes, 3 % Christians and 4 % Muslims. There were 75 women and 83 children under the age of 14 among the 342 people who arrived on the Truro.

The late Professor Fatima Meer, in her delightful book A Portrait of Indian South Africans (Avon House, 1969) commented: “They brought to their new country ancient traditions which had become theirs through telling and retelling, through learning and remembering over hundreds of generations – accounts of gods and sages and kings, and crafts of wood, metal and fibre and husbandry of animal and soil.” (Professor Meer was a sociologist!)

Working in the cane fields
Working in the cane fields
Loading cane
Loading cane
Indian Rickshaw Puller employed by a member of the Legislative Council of Natal - 1890
Indian Rickshaw Puller employed by a member of the Legislative Council of Natal - 1890

The early years – units of labour

The first Indian South Africans who came as indentured labourers struggled to settle and make livings for themselves. They had to contend with very stringent terms of indenture and the racism of the white colonists, who saw them as simply “units of labour.”

The newspaper The Natal Witness , commented in an editorial: “The ordinary Coolie ... and his family cannot be admitted into close fellowship and union with us and our families. He is introduced for the same reason as mules might be introduced from Montevideo, oxen from Madagascar or sugar machinery from Glasgow. The object for which he is brought is to supply labour and that alone. He is not one of us, he is in every respect an alien; he only comes to perform a certain amount of work, and to return to India ...”

That so many stayed on after their periods of indenture had expired is tribute to their resilience and inventiveness. For the five or ten years of their indenture they suffered incredible hardships including floggings, poor living conditions, separation from family members, and nine-hour working days seven days a week.

Some did indeed choose to return to their places of origin, but most stayed on, making livings out of market gardening and fruit and vegetable vending, gradually branching out into other occupations.

As Meer points out in Portrait , “For many, no matter how deplorable the condition, there was no return to India, for their manner of leaving was such as to constitute an irreconcilable breach. Young men had left without the blessings of parents and your women without parental knowledge. For many, caste taboos had been broken, and life back at home would be a life in exile.”

The first Indian-owned shop in South Africa.
The first Indian-owned shop in South Africa.
The Mosque and Madressa Arcade in Grey Street, Durban. Photo Tony McGregor
The Mosque and Madressa Arcade in Grey Street, Durban. Photo Tony McGregor
Building that housed Gandhi's printing press on the Phoenix Settlement near Durban. Photo Tony McGregor
Building that housed Gandhi's printing press on the Phoenix Settlement near Durban. Photo Tony McGregor
House on the Phoenix Settlement started by Gandhi. Photo by Tony McGregor
House on the Phoenix Settlement started by Gandhi. Photo by Tony McGregor

New wave of immigration

In 1863 a young man called Abubaker Jhavary, originally from Porbander on the Kathiawad Peninsular, arrived in Natal via Mauritius. By dint of hard work and business acumen he prospered, his trade flourished and he was soon exporting dried fish cured by Indians on Salisbury Island in Durban Bay to India in his own fleet of ships.

This set off a new wave of Indian immigration with the first arrivals in 1869 of so-called “Passenger” Indians – people who paid their own way to Natal. These were mostly from the West Coast of Indian, in particular Mumbai, and were mostly Gujarati traders who added their rich culture to the already rich mix of languages and customs among the Indians in Natal.

These new arrivals soon spread throughout the country, setting up country trading stores in remote parts of Zululand and even moving into the Transvaal, or Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR). Here they also flourished as the gold mining industry began to take off and money started to flow in serious quantities into the country.

These immigrants were usually young men who arrived alone. As they became more established and their businesses started to prosper, they would build shops with residences either above or behind the shops. When these were ready for occupation they would return to India to fetch their families.

The most famous Indian to settle in South Africa was, of course, the great soul, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who arrived in 1893 and left in 1913, having played an important role in the “South Africanising” of the Indian community.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The passing of Pageview

One such area in the former Transvaal where Indian South Africans established themselves as businessmen was the suburb of Pageview on the western side of the central business district of Johannesburg, the rapidly growing centre of the gold mining industry.

By 1885 there were sufficient Indians in the country to worry members of the Volksraad (Parliament ) of the ZAR. As a result of the fears of the whites, Act No 3 of that year was passed which took away the right of “Coolies, Arabs and other Asiatics” to own land in the ZAR. The government also had the right, by this law, to restrict them “for purposes of sanitation” to certain areas.

In 1886 the restriction on land ownership was lifted in the so-called “Coolie locations” set aside in terms of the Act. One of the “Coolie locations” was Pageview which existed until the apartheid regime declared it a “white area” in terms of the Group Areas Act of 1950. Pageview was finally “cleared” of Indian-owned and run businesses in 1977.

Thus passed a colourful and vibrant cultural era, killed by the social engineering mania of the apartheid ideologues.

A Johannesburg architect, Manfred Hermer, published a tribute to Pageview The passing of Pageview (Ravan, 1978), containing a collection of his wonderful and evocative paintings of the area in its last days. Some of these lovely paintings are reproduced here.

Dolly Naidu, Joyce Pillay, Jay Govender and Sheila Pillay with the cakes for the Govender family reunion in April 2010. Photo "You" Magazine
Dolly Naidu, Joyce Pillay, Jay Govender and Sheila Pillay with the cakes for the Govender family reunion in April 2010. Photo "You" Magazine
The flag of South Africa
The flag of South Africa
The flag of the Republic of India
The flag of the Republic of India

Celebrating 150 years of “Indianness” in South Africa

The 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa as permanent residences and, at last, citizens, has been celebrated both in India and in South Africa.

Celebrations have been both at national and individual levels. In India the city of Chennai and the State of Tamil Nadu have held various official functions to mark the anniversary.

In South Africa one local family member organised a huge family reunion to celebrate the anniversary. She is Ms Mandy Moodley who wrote in the local popular magazine You (of 23 September 2010): “My grandfathers on both sides were born in India and arrived in South Africa as young boys. The year was 1860 and they struggled. They worked in the sugar-cane fields and lived in barracks. They were poor but well-raised despite the hardships of those days.”

Ms Moodley managed to get 189 family members together for the reunion on 17 April 2010 at the community centre in Chatsworth, Durban.

As Ms Moodley wrote: “We are proud Indians who were born and brought up in South Africa. We fly both the South African and Indian flags at our homes and we're proud to belong to two such wonderful countries.”

Sources

Hermer, Manfred: The passing of Pageview. Johannesburg: Ravan, 1978

Meer, Fatima: A Portrait of Indian South Africans. Durban: Avon House, 1969

Saunders, Christopher (editor): The Reader's Digest Illustrated History of South Africa. Cape Town: The Reader's Digest Association, 1988.

The kwaZulu-Natal newspaper The Witness has been publishing regular articles on the anniversary of the arrival of the indentured Indians in 1860. These have provided me with interesting additional information.

The newspaper also published this call to all South Africans: "A call is made to all South Africans, whatever colour, creed, race or religion, to light candles and lamps and display them in front of their homes on November 16 from 7 pm. This will show unity in diversity and your place in a rainbow nation." I will certainly be lighting some candles!

Copyright notice

The text on this page, unless otherwise indicated, is by Tony McGregor, who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2010

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Comments 55 comments

ralwus 6 years ago

I always am so impressed with your history lessons of SA. Thanks Tony. CC


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

That's a great article, Tony. There are parallels with the labour forces here in the Gulf, the biggest difference being that right of ownership and citizenship have never been granted here. I seem to remember in the years following the fall of apartheid there was some tension caused by a new wave of Indian immigrants being brought in to fill jobs that by quota had to be non-white but for which suitably qualified and experienced local black Africans were not available (obviously because of the apartheid system itself).


sarovai profile image

sarovai 6 years ago

Very interesting to know about the Indian South african.From coolies to cabinet really shows their hardwork. Thank u for sharing.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

Tony, we can't help but respect the Indians in our country. They are hard, peaceful workers, enhancing our standards on many levels since their arrival. They are examples for all of us, of determined, peaceable climbers of the mountain called Life. I just love Ms Ela Gandhi quote, and have to copy it here: “.... I am a very proud South African. The Indianness comes in at the level of culture, the way we eat, the kind of things we eat, the kind of things we appreciate – like music, drama, the language we speak. We only enrich our country by having all these different tastes and habits. What I am basically saying is that that is where the Indianness stops.”

Is this not a mouth-an-a-half-full of what we all should say, using our own original status? Thanks again my ingenious friend for this suburb article!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

Tony, this is a wonderful history lesson.I love the thought of rainbow nations.This is needed all over the world,wherever people gather,equility for all.Thank you for writing about the life and culture in Africa.

Love and Peace


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Fascinating history lesson here Tony. You always make it interesting to learn. How similar this sounds to the history of the US which experienced an influx of indentured servants who settled here.


HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

This is a great article about Indian South Africans that we people from different countries have little knowledge of. Thank you for this portrait of a very persistent and resilient people. To go from indentured servitude to full and productive citizenry is truly impressive in such a short time. It isn't easy to do in a foreign land. I always enjoy reading about your country's diverse history.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

I appreciate your attention to details and authenticity. Thanks for the information.


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

One of these days I am going to write a hub about my brief time in South Africa. I learned a great deal but did not learn anything about the Indians there. A very interesting, informative hub!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I do love your hubs Tony. I never tire of your country and history and that of the continent. Thank you Tony BrotherMan! I love you Bud!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

I enjoyed this Hub immensely, Tony. My experience with Indians and Africa lies to your North.

I was married to an Indian-Gujarati-whose family had escaped Idi Amin's Uganda (Kampala)in the 1970's. My then-husband's family spent their lives trying to regain their property, and were forever disappointed at the lack of assistance from the government.

This hub opened my eyes to the Indians of the South, and I thank you.


neeleshkulkarni profile image

neeleshkulkarni 6 years ago from new delhi

amazing eye for detail Tony.As an indian i knew about the south african indians but not in such detail as you have provided.

the segregation and desire to use only as labour and not treat as humans is there even today in the middle east but it is to the credit of your country that they got an opportunity to grow and it is to their credit that they have not only grown into a vibrant community but integrated so well.

i am saving this article


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Charlie - so glad you enjoyed this one too! Thanks my friend for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Dave - thanks so much! I don't know too much about the Gulf labour issue but yes, there was some tension about Indian technical workers coming into South Africa in the middle to late 90s. I haven't heard about any problems with that recently, thankfully.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Sarovai - indeed the Indian community has made a great contribution to South Africa, both in terms of culture and of hard work, as you say.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Martie - you are so kind, thank you! Yes, the Indian community in South Africa has done much that is truly admirable. I count myself very fortunate to have many Indian friends.

Ela Gandhi's quote is great, isn't it?

Love and peace

Tony


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

This is a great look into the history of Indian South Africans – 150 years of toil and triumph, it's always good to learn something. I found this especially interesting as I live in a very diverse city. Love and Peace :)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ruby, my dear! Thanks so much and I'm, glad you enjoyed the history lesson. Now remember, exam on this part of South African history on Monday, so please do your revision! LOL!

Thanks again.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Peg - thank you for your kind words and I am truly glad that you enjoyed the Hub.

Love and peace

Tony


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

Hi Tony,

I thoroughly enjoyed this well researched and interesting hub.

It was better than any history lesson that I have ever had.An awesome and up here without a doubt.

Thanks for taking the time to create and share.

Take care.


C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan 6 years ago from Kerala, India

A neatly and elaborately written article giving a bird's eye view of the history of Indian settlers in SA.

I happened to re-read Mahatma Gandhi's "My experiments with truth" recently and you may be aware that it contains elaborate details on his South African living, his struggles for the Indian community and his experiments with vegetarianism and simple living there.

Is his Phoenix form still there? To what extent Mahatma is revered or remembered there?

C.V.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

HS - thanks for stopping by. Indian South Africans are indeed resourceful and resilient, and have amply demonstrated this over the past century and a half. They have greatly enriched all our lives here.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Dallas - I appreciate your kind words. Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Mysterylady - I wish you would! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Brotherman Micky - I love you too, my good buddy! Thanks for stopping by and leaving kind words which I really appreciate.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Laurel - I know about the Indians in Uganda and how much they suffered under the "last king of Scotland"! I also know at first hand how anti-Indian bias still exists among many Ugandans, so the lack of assistance from the government there is not a surprise to me, unfortunately.

Prejudice is such a destructive and negative thing.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Neelesh - thanks for the very thoughtful comment and indeed I think the Indians here have made great contributions is all spheres of life. And of course we now have such a wonderful constitution which helps!

Thanks so much again for coming by and leaving a comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Katie - your kind comment is much appreciated! Thank you. We live in such an interesting and diverse country - we are truly blessed!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Eiddwen - you are too, too kind, really! Thanks for a super comment!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

CV - thanks for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment. I appreciate it very much. Yes I know about Gandhi's great book, though I have so far only reaqd extracts, I have to admit!

Yes Phoenix Settlement is still there and operates now as a clinic for the local people. I haven't been back for many years, but would love to see it now. I used to visit quite regularly when I lived in Durban. It was a great place and I met Ela Gandhi (she was still Ela Ramgobin in those days) sometimes while ther. Also met Fatima Meer and her husband there (she signed my copy of her book for me).

Love and peace

Tony


SiddSingh profile image

SiddSingh 6 years ago

tonymac04,

Excellent hub - with obviously thorough research!

I agree with CV Rajan - if you find the time to read Gandhi's "My Experiments With Truth", it contains a great account of the Indian diaspora in South Africa in those years. His days in South Africa went on shape his outlook - both political and outlook - and of course, the rest is history!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Sidd - I will find the time! I really will. Need to find the book first! I love Gandhi and his ideas and have read a lot of other books about him.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment - I appreciate it very much.

Love and peace

Tony


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Thanks for writing this hub Tony. In fact previously I checked out your list of hubs for some historic stuff about South Africa.

Didn't find what I was looking for. However this one contains the info I was seeking.

Thanks again. Cheers! :)


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

Hi Tony - that's such an informative article - thanks! I didn't realise that the 'Indian' history of South Africa began with the S.S. Truro and labourers - I always thought it was the businessmen who ventured into South Africa first. Fascinating!


Samuel 6 years ago

The history of South Africa includes denial-ism!

Indians were brought to South Africa from as early as the 1600s. These Indians were stolen or forcefully (read kidnapped) from India and brought here to work as slaves - especially in the Western Cape, South Africa.

You do not need to go to a library and pour over copious books, just do a search with your favourite search engine.

F.W. de Klerk admitted in his biography that his lineage included Indian slave fore-bears.

In this same book he discusses the denial-ism that I aforementioned.

Lets go back to the past;

Simon van der Stel - governor of the Cape and whose name the town of Stellenbosch bears - grandmother was from Bengal. Her slave name was Monica. This information was hidden from the history books of our beloved country! If you do not believe me, take a look at a picture of Simon van der Stel - and see if he resembles somebody from Europe!

The great voortrekker; Piet Retief - lineage lies in the loins of a deposed Rajah from the Asian sub-continent! Do a search - I challenge you?

The Khoi-San people of of the Western Cape, South Africa can be directly linked to genetics of the Indians!

Indian passengers of ships that were wrecked on the East Coast of South Africa, took refuge amongst the hospitable Xhosa people. Without a means to return on their journey, these Indians became part of the community, intermingled - intermarried and gave birth to many Xhosa clans - which can be traced back by the mere fact of the Xhosa clan name.

Hence the Xhosa's also have a bit on Indian genetics in them!

A study examining a cross section of the genetic make up the White and Coloured population of the Western Cape shows that there is a 7-to-10 percent Indian content!

With so much commonality amongst us, it is a wonder how we became so different here in South Africa!

So yes, officially 150 years ago, legal Indian slaves came to work the sugar fields and coal mines of Natal!

But many centuries ago, the blood of Indians ran thick and hot in the population of South Africa.

So! what did Indians contribute?

A lot more than we are led to believe!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Quicksand - thanks for stopping by and I'm really glad you found it useful!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Shalini - thanks for stopping by. As Samuel points out in the next comment Indians in fact arrived in South Africa long before the indentured labourers mostly as slaves. It is a fascinating history.

Thanks again

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Samuel - thanks for the great comment and the added information. I agree that denialism is a big feature of some South African historiography, especially that taught in schools under the apartheid regime.

This Hub was not intended to add to that denialism. I am certainly aware of the presence of Indian slaves from the earliest years of the colonisation of South Africa. My decision and intention in this Hub was to celebrate the arrival of the indentured labourers. I am thinking of writing something about slavery in the colonies which is where I would add the info about the Indian slaves.

Your point about the Khoi-San though I think is at least moot. I would like to know what geneticists would say about that?

Thanks again for contributing to this subject. I appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


the fix 6 years ago

What a top hub! I find immigration stories fascinating. Great writing and research and I loved the photos, it really brought it to life and taught me a lot about an important part of your amazing country.Bravo!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

The fix - thank you very much! I appreciate your comment exceedlingly! Thanks

Love and peace

Tony


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Really informative stuff this, Tony. You are becoming quite an historian :-)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Brother Dimitris - thanks for the comment.

Love and peace

Tony


AnnieRoseVA 6 years ago

I find your article very interesting as I knew little about South Africa before reading your hubs. I tend to study American history and am often unaware of the similar history of other countries at the same time period. Great information - thank you.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

AnnieRose - thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you found it interesting.

Love and peace

Tony


Gyan  5 years ago

It great to learn about struggles and success of South African Indians. I am an decendant of indentured labourers who were brought from Indian in 1800s to work on the sugar cane and coton farms here. Our forefathers have also gone through such hard situations and we enjoy the befits now. Fiji curently has a population of 950,00 out of which around 350 are of indian origions. So do yopu mind doing a similar story for Fiji Indians.


Gyan  5 years ago

Sorry i mean around 350,000 are of Indin origins.

Fiji Islands is in the South Pacific near Austarli and New Zealnd . Fiji is well known for its sevens rugby.


diamondUK 5 years ago

I stumbled across this hub and was really very glad I did. I am a descendent of Indian field workers who arrived in SA as indentured workers and both my father's parents worked on a farm where they lived in Durban and raised their young family. The struggle and hardship the Indians faced were huge and my own father actually ran away from SA after his mother passed away and his father remarried. Ill-treatment from his step-mother caused my father to forge his father's signature so that he could join the Missionary Seamen ships down at the docks. After working the ships and travelling around the world, my father settled in the UK living in a Caribbean community in London. It was here where he met and married my mother who is from Barbados in the West Indies, and I guess the rest is history. I myself am mixed, half Caribbean and half South African Indian as a result of both my parents leaving their homelands to find work in the UK. I have no family here in the UK from my father's side of the family and so having access to information such as your site is not only informative & interesting, to me it is something much bigger than this. My father has passed now 20 years ago and it was only upon his death that I made contact with my relatives in SA and through them have snippets of information of how my family came about to be in SA. I have learned about my Indian history as for some reason, my father didn't really impress this upon us as children. Your piece has added more to the jigsaw. It is my wish that one day I will get to India even if not to trace family (this will be near on impossible) but at least to return to my forefather's homeland. Thank you for being interested and taking the time to provide such insight. Bless you.


Kris** 5 years ago

hi there. i am in grade 10 and am doing a project on the history of indians in south africa, can anyone help me with the following question: What contributions did a) contract indians and b) passenger indians make to Natal and other areas in SA? THANX


Kris** 5 years ago

hi there. i am in grade 10 and am doing a project on the history of indians in south africa, can anyone help me with the following question: What contributions did a) contract indians and b) passenger indians make to Natal and other areas in SA? THANX


Peter Moodley 4 years ago

Samuel's comment is spot on and I believe people of Indian decent should know that 30% of the work force in the Cape of Good Hope were Indians.Catherine a women of Indian decent and worked for Jan Van Reebeck was the first first indian women to own property in The Cape Town.

So Tony do some more research Indian in South Africa go back more than 150 years.

Thanki you for the article as it shows someone has taken the time to look at South African history.


AvineshP profile image

AvineshP 3 years ago from Chandigarh

It's a great hub, I get to learn a lot about what Indians did in South Africa. Thanks for this informative hub, really appreciate.


jessica 18 months ago

Indians are kind. And is nice to have them in south Africa.I wish I can have some Indian friends...

We must gathered together as one big family...

With love and peace


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 11 months ago from Ontario, Canada

This is interesting history. One of Mandela's Indian appointees was a family friend. We know of the great contributions the Indians gave to SA. I just wish we had visited Durban but we just did not have the time when we went there.


raj 8 months ago

really inspiring article Tony, I am trying to decode the colonial id cards that was issued to my grandfather , those green cards , is there anyway that it can lead me in tracing my roots.,


cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

cmoneyspinner1tf 7 months ago from Austin, Texas

I like the title of your very first section to begin this HUB. “From “coolies” to Cabinet”. From that point on I prepared myself to be exposed to an interesting history of a people who transplanted themselves, and would become as much an integral part of their new homeland, as they were in their old homeland.

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