The Natal Mercury The Coolies Here
"The Coolies Here from the Natal Mercury"

Indian Arrival Day November 16, 1860, Tracing Your Roots

November 16, 2020, marks an important historical occasion as South Africans of Indian-origin mark 160 years of Indians in South Africa.

It is still possible to trace your Indian-origin lineage and to learn more about your Indian ancestry, even 160 years later in South Africa. The Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre of the University of KwaZulu Natal has made it possible for individuals to find out more about their indentured Indian families.

What is the Indentured-labour system?

Devised by the British, this was a system and a form of debt bondage for the indentured labourer. The displacement of 3.5 million Indians packed aboard ships destined for various colonies of British imperialism was a vehicle to invest in labour primarily for sugar plantations.

The Natal Mercury The Coolies Here
“The Coolies Here published in “The Natal Mercury” November 22, 1860

So how do you trace your Indian-origins?

All you need is a ship list number or copies of unabridged birth certificates that contain list indenture numbers. These numbers are also listed on documents marked as “Pass to Indians”. 23-year-old Arushan Naidoo, who worked at the centre as a volunteer, explains how the tracing process works.

Listen to the SABC Newsbreak podcast here,

In other news, a new research investigation has uncovered the traumatic and inhumane conditions faced by Indian indentured labourers in South Africa.

Latashia Naidoo, an award-winning journalist and 2020 Open Society Foundation Global Investigative Journalism fellow at Wits University, completed a year-long research project into the atrocities of Indian indentured labour. By piecing together depositions, medical reports, witness statements and other documentation from the past, Naidoo uncovered horrific stories of abuse, murder, rape and other forms of violence, tap here for more

Source inputs: Newsbreak Lotus

Showcasing the identity of the South African Indian as we remember the story of the arrival of Indian-indenture 160 years ago to the shores of South Africa. The SA Indian community of South Africa are uniquely African and so are their stories. Submit your piece of history to us for a feature click here

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Report and write stories for It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.