Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal


Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal arrivals crop

Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal

Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal –  The 16th November 2018 marks 158 years since the first arrival of Indians to South Africa. Today, most people of Indian descent reside in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and the city of Durban boasts the largest population of Indian city dwellers outside India.

Although people of Indian descent are scattered throughout Zululand, the suburb of Brackenham in Richards Bay predominantly has the largest number, basically an isolated community resulting from the Apartheid System.

Much of the traditional Indian culture has diminished over time, mainly their original language and dress. However, and without doubt, they still vibrantly contribute to our varied multicultural Zululand community.  Besides their traditional hard work ethic and business acumen, it is in their food where they have had a marked cultural influence. Durban Curry, Bunny Chow, Biryani and Samoosa’s immediately come to mind. And let’s not forget chilli-bites.

Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal – Some Historical Facts

In the early 1880’s the problem of labour supply to the sugarcane farms in Natal existed and thereby resulted in an agreement between the British and Indian Governments to permit the importation of indentured labour.

  • Local Zulu’s –  particularly the men were disinterested in this type of agricultural work
  • The first Indians arrived in Durban from Madras (Chennai) on the paddle steamer SS Truro on 16 November 1860
  • The last ship arrived in 1911
  • During this 51-year period about 142 000 Indians arrived in South Africa
  • Between 1860 and 1911, there were 384 shipments, 262 from Madras and 122 for Calcutta
Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal Canecutters crop
Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal Settlers

Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal – Some Sad Facts

  • Although there were some families that arrived, the force consisted mainly of men, hoping to return to India wealthy after fulfilment of their 5-year contract. Contracts were a far distance from reality.
  • Living and working conditions were abhorrent with many health and social issues.
  • The Indian philosophy of Bhaiy-acharaya (brotherhood or a sense of togetherness) similar to Ubuntu, diminished over time.
  • Those unable to perform at their optimum were identified and sent back to India.
  • Suicides were high and a dramatic escape from indenture. The Historian Lal commented that suicide “was both a cry of despair and act of protest” against this system.

The system of indenture was purely formulated and administered to turn human beings into numbers – cogs, levers and gears in a labour machine. Over time sugarcane farms were unable to retain cheap labour as alternative work was found mainly on the mines, railways and in commerce. Over a great length of time, and the scourge of the Apartheid Period, Indians began to infiltrate society as equals. Indenture labour will forever remain a very ugly spot in South African history.

The WEB WRITER is certified with S.A.Tourism as a “South African Specialist”. This means they are experts in South African Travel and entitled to use the term and associated logo when giving advise. We thank Dhana Pillay Insurance Brokers Empangeni for the support in the promotion of this post.

Indian Indenture Zululand Kwa-Zulu Natal Dhana Pillay
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