On 16 November 1860, 157 years ago, the first batch of Indian indentured labourers arrived at Durban by ship from India.
The journey was not one of comfort or luxury as several people died during the long journey and arrived to a land which they worked on for the British.
The history of South African Indians serves as the foundation which has established a thriving community of people who worked hard for a better life.
On Thursday, 16 November, a prayer was held at Addington beach in commemoration of 157 years of Indians coming to South Africa. The 1860 Heritage Centre on Derby Street, Durban, together with members of Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH) and the centre’s board members commemorated the special day with a celebration event. A tour of the centre was conducted, showcasing Indian culture and educating attendees of the rich Indian heritage.
Programme director of the event, Satish Dhupelia, enlightened attendees on the history of South African Indians.
He said,”Our people came to this country with a bundle of clothing only but inside of themselves they carried a rich legacy and culture. After their five year labour contracts they started to build schools, places of prayer and ultimately built a community.
Their hardships built the foundation which we stand on today.”
Dhupelia said that the centre tells the stories that no one knows of the Indian people and they are beautiful stories.
Kogi Govender of ABH said, “Everyone of us would not be here today if it was not for our forefathers. They left us a legacy of togetherness, sharing and sitting together. We are people that are unselfish in sharing our culture and we should be proud of our forefathers.”