Time capsule launches 50-year ‘journey into the future’

2010-11-17 00:00

A TIME capsule containing material that represents 150 years of Indians’ history in South Africa took up most of the space in the tiny cell once occupied by Kastura Gandhi, wife of M.K. Gandhi, who was imprisoned in Pietermaritzburg during the 1913 passive resistance campaign.

Dignitaries stood in silence as representatives of spiritual and cultural organisations stepped into the cell at the old prison in Burger Street to read an extract of the message they were to enclose in the capsule.

It is to be sealed next year for 50 years and opened in November 2060.

In another moving moment, the MEC for Arts, Culture and Sport, Weziwe Thusi, removed the colourful sari to uncover the plaque she unveiled at the prison. The plaque paid tribute to child martyr Valliamma Mudliar (16), who was imprisoned there in 1913 and died 11 days after her release.

The plaque recognised the contribution of all fallen heroes and heroines who paid the ultimate price for South Africa’s non-racial democracy

There was a sense of history in the making yesterday at the old prison, now known as Project Gateway, as dignitaries gathered for a multi-faith prayer and the launch of the time capsule to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured Indian labourers.

Thusi said the anniversary has been an opportunity to correct the country’s skewed history.

She said the government is taking the celebration very seriously as it forms part of the nation’s history.

The government will host an event to commemorate the occasion, which will be held in Durban on December 4 in the precinct of the Moses Mabhida stadium.

Thusi said that the government firmly believes that the people of the country who were of Indian origin were first and foremost South African. “We refuse to repeat the mistakes of the past, of oppression and division,” she said.

Earlier yesterday, KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize joined India Consul-General Anil Sharan and members of the Indian community at a universal prayer service on the beach near uShaka Marine World in Durban.

Sharan, who was guest speaker at the official opening of a commemorative exhibition at the Natal Museum later in the day, said he felt very emotional at the morning event.

He urged South Africans of Indian origin to use the anniversary to celebrate how far they have come and how much they have achieved.

He said there is a need to continue the fight against poverty and illiteracy, and to work actively towards the development of South Africa in an effort to leave a legacy for a future generation of South Africans.

uMgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said the time capsule is a reminder of the journey into the future.

He said there is a need to recognise and work towards a better life for all South Africans in a progressive non-racial democracy.

“This is a goal we should work towards, guided by mutual respect for the tapestry of cultures and social origins of all South Africans,” Bhamjee said.

“Let us collectively not be found wanting on this historical journey.”

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