South African Indians reflect on their 156 year journey as the arrival of the first indians on the ‘Truro’ ship sailed towards the Durban harbour from India in 1860.
Fleeing an already oppressed India, the enslaved Indians were shipped on 16 November 1860 and were forced to cultivate land and grow sugar cane plantations. Today, the Indian community have progressed out of oppression and are one of the many thriving communities in South Africa.
According to South African History Online:
South Africans of Indian origin comprise a heterogeneous community distinguished by different origins, languages, and religious beliefs. The first Indians arrived during the Dutch colonial era, as slaves, in 1684.
A conservative calculation based strictly on records shows over 16 300 slaves from the Indian subcontinent having been brought to the Cape. In the decades 1690 to 1725 over 80% of the slaves were Indians. This practice continued until the end of slavery in 1838. They made up the majority of slaves that came from the Far East and were by the 1880s totally integrated into the Cape White and Coloured communities.
In the second half if the 19th Century, Indians came to South Africa in two categories, namely as indentured workers in 1860 and later as ‘free’ or ‘passenger’ Indians.
The former came as a result of a triangular pact among three governments, which stated that the indentured Indians were to work for the Natal colonial government on Natal’s sugar plantations. The ‘free’ Indians came to South Africa mainly as traders alert to new opportunities abroad.
These ‘free Indians’ came at their own expense from India, Mauritius, and other places. However, emigration was stopped in 1914.