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The South African Indian

During the 1960's the white colonialists found that the fertile ground of Natal could not harnessed  to its full potential because the original inhabitants, the African people refused to exploited by the colonial rulers. This led to the British looking towards other colonies  and India was the obvious choice because of its  large population. A law was passed in Natal for the importation of indentured labor from India on a five year contract.

The first group of Indians were recruited from the then Madras Presidency and arrived in Natal on 16 November 1860 on board the ship TRURO. The majority of those that arrived from India were from the Tamil speaking group with a small groups  of Telegu and Hindi speaking people. The Gujerati community mostly came as passenger Indians to pursue business interests.

The working conditions of the indentured labor were harsh and the owners demanded long hours in the oppressive humid climate. They had to contend with many problems especially as living in a foreign land and not familiar with the languages of English and Isizulu.

This recruitment campaign continued until the whites realized that the Indian totally more than 150 000 was actually more than 115 000 whites that lived in Natal. They saw this as a threat and stopped recruiting Indian labor. On expiry of the contract the labor was given the option of returning to India on a free passage or remaining in Natal. Most of them opted to remain in Natal.

Presently the South African Indian population is estimated at 1.3 million and 12 percent of whom reside in  KwaZulu-Natal. The Tamil speaking community represents the largest linguistic group among the Indians, here in KwaZulu-Natal.

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