Thursday, July 12, 2012

Arrival of Indian Laborers in South Africa - 150th Anniv

Date of Issue:
Sheet 1: October 21, 2011
Sheet 2: November 25, 2011

In partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, the Department of Communications and the South African Post Office, two stamps have been launched, with a further two sets set for launch in 2012.

The stamps feature a sketch of the S.S. Truro, the ship that brought the first indentured laborers for the sugarcane plantations in Natal province from India in 1860, and photographs of passengers coming ashore at the Durban port.
There are also pictures of sugarcane cutters to serve as a poignant reminder of the extreme hardship and endurance of the early laborers from whom most of the 1.4 million South Africans of Indian origin are descended.

The Truro left Madras (now Chennai) and anchored in Port Natal on November 16, 1860 to start off the arrival of thousands of Indians until the last ship, the Umlazi, in 1911.

“This is in honor of those gallant Indian pioneers, our forefathers and mothers who, due in large part to economic hardship so many decades ago, made a difficult but conscious choice to depart the shores of India and set sail into the unknown, across treacherous and unpredictable oceans,” Minister for Public Service and Administration, Roy Padayachie, who launched the stamps said.

The launch incorporated an inter-faith prayer as well as the unveiling of two memorial slabs at the suburb of Belvedere, about 30 km north of Durban, so named after the second ship that brought laborers from India.

The memorial peace slabs bear the names of anti-apartheid icons such as John Langalibalele Dube, the first President of the ANC, Ahmed Timol, Shanti Naidoo, Kader Asmal, Walter and Albertina Sisulu.

Mr. Padayachie said that these slabs were a tribute “to the sacrifices of the indentured Indian laborers and liberation fighters for their immense contribution to build a democratic South Africa we have today.”

He appreciated the indigenous African people for accepting the Indian laborers so that they could stay and make the new country their home for themselves and the generations that followed.

The Minister said that over the decades, the Indian community had made significant contributions to the cultural, social and political life of South Africa, adding to the country's diverse cultures.

Source: The Hindu, dated Nov 29, 2011

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