We were together on the trip to Kailash - Mansarovar. As we got to know each other, we began discussing about the Indian diaspora in South Africa. These were the descendants of those who were carted out in overcrowded ships to a unknown places across "Kala Paani" to serve new masters.
I am referring to the indentured labour that were taken to South Africa, specifically and in general to other places like Mauritius, Fiji, West Indies, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The white man seems to have made a habit of this. Africans were carted to Southern and EasterAmerica. The Chinese were slave labour in California.
This story of Indians being taken as slaves to serve business interests of the British businessmen is that part of our history we seem to have missed out completely and erased from our collective consciousness. We seem to have forgotten all about them and abandoned our long lost brethren.
Modern day life seems to have brought them back in focus. Are we doing anything at all? Is it enough and is it helping? These and many others questions will be examined in the coming posts. I will also attempt to re-create the life of these "slaves" and their gritty and now prosperous descendants who are the proud citizens of South Africa. Yet, they long for India as their roots are here.
I thank Rajesh and Lakshmi for giving me plenty of background material and an insight into their life and the social structure they grew up in. I hope that I will be able to do justice to these poor souls, who went through terrible trials and tribulations in the hope of a better tomorrow for their children.