A richly-tex­tured potpourri to cel­e­brate a cen­tury of (rel­a­tive) free­dom

The 100-Year Com­mem­o­ra­tion Sym­po­sium of the for­mal abo­li­tion of in­den­ture will take place on Satur­day at the 1860 Her­itage Cen­tre, Derby Street, Dur­ban. Be­low is a list of ab­stracts of some of the pa­pers that will be pre­sented

The Mercury - - NEWS - 1.

Pro­fes­sor Pratap Ku­mar (Emeritus Pro­fes­sor at Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal).

Grey Street Cas­bah: Ori­gins of Dur­ban’s Mar­ket­place

In this pa­per, I wish to ex­plore life in the mid-19th cen­tury to mid20th cen­tury in the Dur­ban-based In­dian Cas­bah and its en­dur­ing legacy. In ex­plor­ing the Cas­bah life in Dur­ban, I wish to pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the nar­ra­tives of the peo­ple who ei­ther were as­so­ci­ated with it and had liv­ing mem­o­ries of it, or re­mem­ber the many sto­ries passed on to them by their fam­i­lies. The cen­tral ques­tion that I ask in analysing th­ese nar­ra­tives is: Does Cas­bah in the di­as­pora en­able the di­as­poric com­mu­nity to re­live their In­dian ori­gins, or does it ori­ent them away from the ro­man­tic at­tach­ment to the places of their ori­gin in In­dia?


Pro­fes­sor Uma Dhu­pelia-Mesthrie (Se­nior Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of His­tory and the Deputy Dean, Re­search and Post­grad­u­ate Stud­ies, of the Arts Fac­ulty, Univer­sity of the Western Cape).

Fault Lines in Nar­ra­tives of In­dia and South Africa Re­la­tions: 1860s to 1990s

The cen­tral fo­cus of this talk is to ex­am­ine nar­ra­tives of In­dia-South Africa re­la­tions. In­dia be­came im­pli­cated in the South African story from the in­cep­tion of the sys­tem of in­den­ture, and one of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of South African In­dian pol­i­tics from the 1880s on­wards was to ap­peal to In­dia (to the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment of In­dia and to lib­er­als and na­tion­al­ists). In­de­pen­dent In­dia be­came em­broiled in a broader sup­port for the lib­er­a­tion Strug­gle of all South Africa’s blacks. This pa­per calls for a crit­i­cal rather than a ro­man­tic as­sess­ment of what con­se­quences the in­ter­ven­tion of In­dia had. It fo­cuses on re­vis­it­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, the in­ter­ven­tion of In­dia dur­ing the Gand­hian pe­riod of Strug­gle, the in­ter­ven­tions of In­dia post-1946 to 1990 and the more ne­glected in-be­tween pe­riod from the 1920s to the 1940s. It seeks to dis­rupt heroic nar­ra­tives of In­dia-South Africa re­la­tions by fo­cus­ing on what I call the “fault lines” – the si­lences in the nar­ra­tives about this in-be­tween pe­riod.


Dr Shee­tal Bhoola (Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal).

In­dian Women and the Ques­tion of their Iden­tity in Con­tem­po­rary South Africa: A Case Study of Six Hindu Women in Dur­ban

Cen­tral to this study is the is­sue of gen­der-as­signed roles in con­tem­po­rary South Africa and how they con­trib­ute to­wards the iden­tity of an In­dian woman in the South African di­as­pora. Data has re­vealed that most In­dian women in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety bear the re­spon­si­bil­ity to par­tic­i­pate and sus­tain Hindu fam­ily rit­u­als and re­li­gious rit­u­als. This pa­per aims to ex­plore the iden­ti­ties of th­ese women who live lives that are both mod­ern and tra­di­tional. Moder­nity and tra­di­tional ide­olo­gies of the “In­dian” woman are dis­cussed, which con­trib­utes to­wards un­der­stand­ing the “In­dian” women in the di­as­pora to­day. The chal­lenges of re­tain­ing their “In­dian” Iden­tity in a di­verse and cos­mopoli­tan city like Dur­ban is doc­u­mented and ex­plained in de­tail.


Kiru Naidoo (Ad­vi­sory Board of the Gandhi-Luthuli Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­tre, Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal).

The Preser­va­tion of Per­sonal and Po­lit­i­cal Mem­ory in Se­lected Let­ters of Phyl­lis Naidoo

In the record of the Strug­gle for South African free­dom span­ning the pe­riod of em­pire, colo­nial con­quest, in­den­ture and apartheid, women’s voices found lim­ited ex­pres­sion. Phyl­lis Naidoo (1928-2013) was an ac­tivist in the SACP and the ANC from the 1950s un­til her death in 2013. Her col­lected let­ters and pa­pers are an un­ri­valled source of per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal commentary on South African pol­i­tics span­ning al­most five decades. The Phyl­lis Naidoo Col­lec­tion held by the Gandhi-Luthuli Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­tre at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal con­tains, among oth­ers, rare copies of let­ters to pris­on­ers on Robben Is­land, which were cen­sored be­fore they reached the re­cip­i­ents. The ex­is­tence of copies of the orig­i­nal, pre­served in spite of as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts, ban­nings and ex­ile, is price­less in un­der­stand­ing tex­tured lay­ers of the per­sonal and the po­lit­i­cal at crit­i­cal mo­ments in the evo­lu­tion of the Strug­gle.


Brij Ma­haraj KwaZulu-Natal).



Hamba khaya! Hamba uye eBom­bay! (Go home! Go to Bom­bay!)

In South Africa, In­di­ans con­sti­tute a vul­ner­a­ble eth­nic mi­nor­ity and have been sand­wiched be­tween the eco­nom­i­cally dom­i­nant whites and the African ma­jor­ity. His­tor­i­cally, there have been ten­sions be­tween In­di­ans and Africans be­cause the for­mer en­joyed a rel­a­tively priv­i­leged po­si­tion com­pared with the ma­jor­ity, pri­mar­ily be­cause of com­mu­nity sur­vival strate­gies, and their re­li­gious and cul­tural her­itage. The aim is to an­a­lyse some of the chal­lenges fac­ing South African In­di­ans in the post-apartheid era, which will re­veal sig­nif­i­cant con­ti­nu­ities with the apartheid era.


Pro­fes­sor Kiren Thathiah (Re­search As­so­ciate: Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg), with Sod­hie Naicker, Ra­jesh Jayrajh and Sa­jen Thathiah.

Beyond In­den­ture: A Place in Time

Like the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the ar­rival of the in­den­tured In­di­ans in South Africa, the end of in­den­ture not only pro­vides another op­por­tu­nity to look back through the an­nals of his­tory, it also pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to look more closely at the point from which we look back: es­sen­tially, this place in time. With this in mind, we em­barked on a project to pro­duce a musical al­bum that cel­e­brates and com­mem­o­rates the places that have come to hold some sig­nif­i­cance in the com­mu­nal ex­pe­ri­ence and mem­ory of the In­dian com­mu­nity in South Africa. Th­ese places, such Phoenix, Chatsworth, Canelands and Cur­rie’s Foun­tain, are not silent wit­nesses to his­tory, but liv­ing lo­ca­tions where his­tory con­tin­ues to be made, and there­fore wor­thy of be­ing cel­e­brated both in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the sym­po­sium, con­tact :

Kalpana Hi­ralal at Hi­ralalk@ukzn.ac.za.

Betty Govin­den at her­byg@ telkomsa.net.

Sel­van Naidoo at snaidoo@ nwood.co.za.

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