In­den­ture and the Strug­gle

Sunday Tribune - - HISTORY -

IN­DEN­TURE was, as the scholar Hugh Tin­ker char­ac­terised it, “a new sys­tem of slav­ery”. Re­vi­sion­ist his­to­ries of slav­ery, im­pe­ri­al­ism, colo­nial­ism, un­fet­tered cap­i­tal­ism, apartheid and, in­deed, of our young democ­racy do not af­ford grav­ity to the op­pres­sion and vi­o­lence of In­dian in­den­ture.

In­den­ture was a global phe­nom­e­non in which In­dian labour was shipped to des­ti­na­tions as far afield as the Caribbean, the Pa­cific Ocean and the tip of Africa. Ran­dom al­lo­ca­tions to plan­ta­tions and coun­tries broke up fam­i­lies, of­ten with no way of re­con­nect­ing.

Valu­able work on in­den­ture is be­ing done by col­lec­tives like the In­den­tured Labour­ers Foun­da­tion in Veru­lam, the 1860 Her­itage Cen­tre, the Gand­hi­luthuli Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­tre at the Univer­sity of Kwazulu-na­tal, and the cy­ber war­riors with Chil­dren of In­den­ture on Face­book.

They are or­gan­is­ing, doc­u­ment­ing, ar­chiv­ing and prop­a­gat­ing this seg­ment of the South African ex­pe­ri­ence of op­pres­sion and re­con­struc­tion.

The #1860Pro­ject looks to shift the nar­ra­tive in ar­gu­ing in­den­ture and the strug­gles in it as one of the foun­da­tions of the to­tal­ity of the Strug­gle to build unity and our non-racial democ­racy.

The com­mu­nity of In­dian ori­gin must take pride in its stel­lar role in the non-racial com­rade­ship that paved the path to power.

The re­sis­tance role was played in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal move­ments. One of the most prom­i­nent was the Con­gress Move­ment. Its most sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­ment was the Free­dom Char­ter which de­clared, “South Africa be­longs to all who live in it…”.

In Paul David’s words: “The ANC has an un­blem­ished record in de­fend­ing and ad­vanc­ing non-racial­ism.

“As the Na­tal In­dian Con­gress we re­solved at a par­tic­u­lar point in our his­tory to shed the strate­gic vest­ments we donned in the fight against apartheid and threw our full weight be­hind the ANC. What­ever the con­tem­po­rary threats to our polity and from wher­ever they come, we shall re­sist for our col­lec­tive fu­ture as South Africans be­longs to the gen­er­a­tions yet un­born.”

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