Intimate pictures of a community

2010-11-18 00:00

AUTHORS Goolam Vahed and Ashwin Desai’s latest offering — Many Lives: 150 years of being Indian in South Africa, is a beautifully crafted photographic essay that will add value to any bookshelf or coffee table.

This time the duo who wrote the seminal work, Inside Indenture: A South African Story 1860-1914, have teamed up with University of KwaZulu-Natal historian Thembisa Waetjen.

Over 700 photographs interspersed with anecdotes and vignettes of infomation offer a panoramic glimpse into the history of the Indian Community in South Africa. It’s not just the big events that are recorded but the everyday, the funny, the bizarre and the historic. I was surprised to find the photograph of two 1967 Pietermaritzburg debutantes Constance Naidoo and Pauline Peters featured in the book. There is also the smile-inducing photograph of Yusuf Dadoo, cooking while smoking a pipe and dressed in an apron. It is these unexpected photographs, unearthed by the authors, that give the book a folksy, intimate feel while not detracting from its broad historic sweep. Pietermaritzburg publishing firm Shuter and Shooter have done a sterling job in the quality of the production, from the attractive cover to the superb layout.

Many Lives is a fitting commemorative memento of this year’s 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa.







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