Mon­u­men­tally mis­han­dled

Post - - 1860: Celebrating Our Rich History - CHARLENE SOMDUTH

AS DE­LAYS in the con­struc­tion of the 1860 mon­u­ment to In­dian in­den­tured labour­ers drags on, com­mu­nity lead­ers have raised their voices call­ing the seven year wait “un­ac­cept­able” and an “in­sult” to the In­dian com­mu­nity.

Some sug­gested that if the cur­rent 1860 or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, work­ing with the city to kick­start the project, are strug­gling in their tasks, re­in­force­ments should be called in.

Her­itage con­ser­va­tion­ist and a di­rec­tor at the 1860 Her­itage Cen­tre in the Dur­ban CBD, Jug­gie Pather, said that com­pared to other coun­tries, the prov­ince was lag­ging be­hind in hon­our­ing In­dian pi­o­neers.

“When I look at other coun­tries like Mau­ri­tius, Fiji and Trinidad, where In­di­ans have set­tled, all of them have some sort of mon­u­ment, be it a statue, build­ing or plaque ded­i­cated to In­di­ans. I can­not un­der­stand why it is tak­ing seven years to de­cide on a mon­u­ment that will re­flect and re­mem­ber the suf­fer­ing and con­tri­bu­tions in­den­tured labour­ers made in South Africa.

“If the cur­rent 1860 or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to make head­way, then a new group needs to be formed to take mat­ters for­ward. There is too much pro­cras­ti­na­tion. We need a com­mit­tee that will ag­gres­sively push for the mon­u­ment.”

DA spokesper­son on Arts and Cul­ture, MPL Ge­orge Mari said: “There have been many de­lays by the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. At our bud­get meet­ing in April, we were told ev­ery­thing con­cern­ing the mon­u­ment was ap­proved. I am dis­gusted with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Once again, the In­dian com­mu­nity are treated as sec­ond class cit­i­zens. This is to­tally un­ac­cept­able.”

MF coun­cil­lor Jonathan An­nipen said the party had al­ways ques­tioned the de­lays in Par­lia­ment.

“The de­lay is a com­plete in­sult to the In­dian com­mu­nity. It shows us, in a sub­tle way, that our in­ter­ests are not sig­nif­i­cant enough to be pri­ori­tised.”

The chair­per­son of the 1860 Her­itage Foun­da­tion, Kr­ish Gokool, said it took them eight years to get the 1860 Her­itage Cen­tre in Derby Street up and run­ning.

“We had many strug­gles but we are fi­nally off the ground. If the project can be co-or­di­nated with our com­mit­tee as well, we can en­sure it is fast-tracked. We have es­tab­lished good re­la­tion­ships with the city and the prov­ince.”

The spokesper­son for the 1860 In­den­tured Labour­ers’ Foun­da­tion in Veru­lam, Anand Jayrajh, said it was dis­ap­point­ing that key role-play­ers could not get their act to­gether. He sug­gested an um­brella body be formed to act as a uni­fied voice.

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