1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation, Verulam to host conference

2017-11-09 06:00

THE 1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation, Verulam will host a conference themed “Woman Power – Inspiration from Indenture”.

One of the main aims of the foundation, inter alia, is to preserve the history and heritage of the indentured labourers who were imported from India to the then Colony of Natal during the period 1860 and 1911.
To this end, apart from other projects, a major function is arranged annually in November to commemorate the arrival of the S S Truro which brought the first shipload of Indentured Labourers to the Colony of Natal from India on 16th November 1860.

The main speaker will be Dr. Devi Rajab and there will be a panel discussion thereafter. The function will be held at the Verulam Day and Frail Care Centre, 100 Todd Sreet, Verulam on Sunday, November 12 commencing at 2.30pm. Refreshment and dinner will be served. In an article titled, “Women under indentured labour in colonial Natal, 1860-1911”, Jo Beall wrote:

“In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Indian women were at the very bottom of the class-race-gender hierarchy in colonial Natal.

As workers they were ultra-exploitable, being used for the most arduous and least skilled tasks in a forced labour system as Indians they were regarded as unwelcome additions to the already complex social make-up of the colony and, what is more, the person responsible for the increase of this despised and resented group; as women they had to struggle against two separate but convergent constructions of gender relations, both characterised by nation.”

She further observed: “Women were deemed of little use in the sphere of sugar production for which indentured immigrants were introduced to Natal in the first instance.

“Furthermore, their role in the sphere of reproduction was regarded with suspicion and resentment.

“Rather than seeing women as a means of reproducing labour, the planters saw the system of indentured immigration itself as the way in which the labour force would be replaced over time.

Moreover, the presence of women underscored the potential permanence of the Indian population, and other colonists felt that the introduction of Indians on a permanent basis was an unnecessary complication in Natal’s social fabric.”

It is true that very little was written and hardly any records were preserved about the role that women played in indenture.

This is no small measure due to that fact that women were largely ignored and not accorded the importance they deserved.

If one had to pause, stand back and contemplate on this vital issue, it will surely dawn upon one that there is a mighty huge lacuna­ in our historical narrative about the role of women in indenture.

The purpose of the conference is to provoke debate and ignite discussion on this topic, 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 rights.

The history of the role of women in indenture needs to be revisited and restructured to present a far more accurate picture of their contribution to

the development and progress of our country.

The foundation hopes to set in motion a general move towards setting the records straight as it possibly can with further investigation and research.

We surely owe at least that much to our women.

- Anand Jayrajh


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.