Preserving and celebrating heritage

2018-11-22 06:01
Indentured Labourers work in railway construction. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Indentured Labourers work in railway construction. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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THE 1860 Indentured Labourers Foundation Verulam will be hosting a conference on indenture called “From Indenture to Mandela and Freedom”.

The conference will take place at Sastri College Education and Convention Centre in Durban on Saturday, November 17. The foundation also commemorates its tenth anniversary and the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

The conference will serve to bring together like-minded people and hopefully contribute towards the achievement and attainment of these aims and objectives. Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and eThekwini Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer are expected to attend the conference.

A launch Gala Dinner will be held at Coastal Umhlanga Conference Centre on Friday, November 16.

Executive committee member and media liaison officer Anand Jayrajh said the foundation was formed to constantly educate and keep the community at large abreast of the history of the indentured labourers and preserve the rich heritage and culture which these pioneers brought to the shores of South Africa.

“During the period 1860 to 1911, over 152 000 indentured labourers were imported from India to the Colony of Natal. The importation of indentured labour to Natal was officially discontinued in South Africa in 1911,” Jayrajh said.

In order to fulfil its aims and objectives, the Foundation annually arranges some functions and events, including outreach programmes. To mark these momentous occasions, the Foundation resolved to hold a Conference with the theme “From Indenture to Mandela and Freedom”.

Jayrajh said the indenture system played an important part in the economic and social growth and development of various European colonies and the European colonial masters in various parts of the world.

“It gave rise to a large contingent of South Africans of Indian descent in South Africa as well as the Indian diaspora around the globe. These Diasporas contributed immensely towards the development of their respective adoptive countries economically, socially, culturally, and otherwise and further added colour to, infused positive influence on, and contributed in developing unique and diverse cultures therein,”Jayrajh added.

The foundation believes that the history, heritage, and contribution of the indentured labourers and their descendants are ignored in South Africa.

Jayrajh said it was crucial to preserve the history and heritage of the Indian indentured labourers, adding: “For this purpose there is a need to continually educate and inform our community at large and the people of the world globally as well as constantly maintain this history and heritage on the radar of public awareness.”

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