1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation conference held

2017-11-23 06:01
At the woman power conference in Verulam (front, from left) Anand Jayrajh, Dr Devi Rajab, Jaisingh Singh, Maggie Achary and Dr Kogie Parthab, and (back, from left) Wooma Thotharam, Preshela Haripersadh, Meena Sookdaw, Dr Lubna Nadvi, Dr Dhana Sagree Govender, Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer, Anisha Raghubir, Shirley Jayrajh, Roy Raghubir and Shuneel Mathura.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

At the woman power conference in Verulam (front, from left) Anand Jayrajh, Dr Devi Rajab, Jaisingh Singh, Maggie Achary and Dr Kogie Parthab, and (back, from left) Wooma Thotharam, Preshela Haripersadh, Meena Sookdaw, Dr Lubna Nadvi, Dr Dhana Sagree Govender, Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer, Anisha Raghubir, Shirley Jayrajh, Roy Raghubir and Shuneel Mathura.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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THE 1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation Verulam held a Women Power Conference in Verulam on November 12. The theme for this year was “woman power” inspiration from Indenture.

The founder of the foundation Jaysingh Singh said in a statement: “I lament that very little is written and very few records preserved about the role that women played in indenture.”

Singh said the foundation was established with the aims and objectives, amongst others, of preserving the heritage and culture of the indentured labourers and to ensure that our present day society and the future generation constantly reminded of and remember their history and draw inspiration from the sacrifices made by these pioneers.

“As our foundation has stated publicly in the media, the purpose of this conference is to provoke debate and ignite discussion on this subject, more so in the light of the present resurgence of efforts by women to claim their rightful role and place in history and assert their well-deserved rights and recognition.”

Singh said the Indentured Women who laboured in the sugar cane fields came from the remote villages of India, for the first time in their lives they became wage earners and could even demand to be recognised in the social order.

“Whilst we tell the story of the indentured woman, my personal request is that we should also tell the story of woman power. In as much as the 1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation, Verulam is involved, the preservation and commemoration of the history and heritage of the Indentured Labourers, the organisation and its members collectively pledge loyalty to South African as the land of their birth right.”

Singh said the present day descendants of the indentured laborers may look to India as the source of cultural and religious inspiration and take immense pride in the historical heritage bequeathed to them by their ancestors, ‘but as South Africans they owe national allegiance first and foremost to South Africa.’

“Even though it has been 157 years since their arrival here, there remains a traditional, cultural and religious connection or possibly even an attachment to India. Overtime, South Africans of Indian origin have become significant trailblazers in the melting pot of a multicultural and non-racial society.

“They played an important role in the struggle against the old order. With the unfolding and development of the new political dispensation, they now play significant roles in the economic growth and governance.Twenty three years into democracy they have strengthened and heightened their loyalty to South Africa.”

Singh believes that the community of Verulam exemplifies the ideology and has fond fostered creativity in encouraging that ethos.

He said history teaches ‘us to learn from our past, assess our present and chart our future in such a manner that we avoid making mistakes of the past.’

In Tongaat, the Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple took great care in ensuring that the centenary celebrations of the organisation in 2016 paid the highest respect to the founding fathers and the indentured Indians who arrived in 1860 by erecting a special monument at their heritage gardens.

The Padma Protea Heritage Monument as it was named was aptly inaugurated by veteran struggle icon and stalwart the late Dr Ahmed Kathrada.

Honorary Life vice president of the temple Henry Reddy who was pivotal in the rollout of the centenary celebrations said that the monument spoke to the struggles and hardships that their forefathers had to endure ‘but most importantly and relevantly it portrays their resilience, perseverance and sense of community which enabled them to weather the storms of oppression together with our African brethren’.

“A special coffee table publication also highlights how divisive politics by the apartheid government sowed divisions in a town where Africans and Indians lived cheek by jowl in harmony. Our forefathers lived the ideals of social cohesion and believed in the principle of Vasudevam Kuttam Bakkam(the world is one family) and Ubuntu,” Reddy said.

The temple has pledged to hold an annual event at the memorial to honour the arrival of the forefathers and importantly to pray for peace, prosperity and harmony in a country that is struggling to build a nation as envisioned by the freedom charter.

The seeds planted by our forebears 157 years ago have blossomed into the largest diaspora of Indians outside India teeming with culture, religious fervor, entrepreneurial spirit and selfless service.

They facilitated all that is Indian to be infused into the rich tapestry of African culture. Let’s all come together to honour and remember the day of their arrival.

The values, character and Ubuntu spirited leadership they espoused is direly needed to inspire social cohesion and build a free and prosperous rainbow nation.

The community is invited to a memorial service at the Heritage Monument (483 Gopalall Hurbans Road) that will be held today, November 16 at 6.30pm.

The people are encouraged to bring tea or clay lamps and floral tributes to lay at the memorial. The program will be addressed by Professor Dasarath Chetty and will take place in open air at the gardens with bhajans by Satya Seva Sancarana.

For further informatio, the temple call 032 945 1496 or email info@svet.org.za.
—Supplied

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