Monthly Meeting: March 2023: TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT-Memoirs of the Natal Midlands Indentured Indian Labour
4 Mar @ 9:30 am - 11:30 am
Dr I Bedassi will present an interesting talk on the Indentured Indian Labourers in the Natal Midlands.
TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT-Memoirs of the Natal Midlands Indentured Indian Labourers chronicles the arrival of Indians in 1860 as indentured labourers who were employed in the sugar cane fields, on the coal mines of northern Natal, railway lines, hospitals, dockyards, hotels, municipal services and in domestic services of the then –infant new South Africa. A shortage of labour and an inability to secure the local population as a work pool necessitated the bringing in of Indians.
The Midlands of Natal was occupied by settlers of English descent who actively farmed. Charles Smythe and Robert King were desperately short of labour. Therefore, they were sent as a deputation to meet with indentured Indian labourers that moved up to work in the Nottingham Road area in 1880.
A total of +-2 137 indentured Indian labourers were employed by approximately 170 settler farmers in the Midlands of the fledgling Natal. Others worked at the creamery, hospitals, railway station, Railway Hotel and at Fort Nottingham. Although Indian labour played an important part in the development of the sugar industry, this has been somewhat over-emphasized while their contribution to the overall economy has not received the attention it merits. Triumph of the Human Spirit captures the trials and tribulations of the indentured Indian labourers and their successes/achievements against all odds.