Mayor salutes Indian community
Johannesburg - The Indian community have made an immense contribution to South Africa, the mayor of Johannesburg said on Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in the country.
"Through the decades, the Indian community has provided leadership and innovation in the areas of politics and governance, commerce and industry, education and the sciences, arts, culture and sport," mayor Amos Masondo said.
The first group of 342 Indian immigrants arrived in Durban on board the SS Truro on November 16 1860. Over the next 50 years more than 150 000 indentured Indian labourers were brought to work on the sugarcane plantations of KwaZulu-Natal. They were later joined by thousands of Indian immigrants who were not bound to indenture. Indians moved to Johannesburg when it was established as a town in 1886, following the discovery of gold.
Indians suffered oppression under the colonial and apartheid governments. In 1893 Mohandas Gandhi came to SA and pioneered 'Satyagraha', a form of non-violent resistance against oppression.
"In spite of the restrictions placed on the [Indian] community by the apartheid state, it has made a formidable economic contribution to South Africa," Masondo said.
"It has consistently emphasised the importance of education as a means for individual and community progress. Consequently, Indians have enriched our society in the fields of law, health, business and the sciences".
Masondo thanked the Indian community for deepening the multi-cultural tapestry of SA emphasising the "positive impact of mosques, temples and churches to our built environment... Indian languages, dress and food".
He saluted Indian sportsmen and women "who faced substantial discrimination".
"In the same month in which we celebrate the contribution of the Indian community, Protea cricket player, Hashim Amla, rose to the number one position on the world's batting ranking".