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Who is my relative? South African Indian

Discussion in 'Indians in Africa' started by Neesha, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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    Hi Neesha,

    It was very nice to read about you and the Indians in South Africa. I met a family at a friend's party and she comes from a similar background as yours. She is born and brought up in South Africa, and is of Indian origin, she says her great grandparents are from a village in Gujarat, but she retains her culture and identity. I was in admiration after I heard that she does the Dandia Ras/Garbha during Navrathri. Her long time dream is to visit India and go to the Gujrati village where her ancestors hail from.

    Also, I watched a programme on CNN International that featured a person called Sami Naidoo from South Africa who is doing a lot of social service for the upliftment of African women and children. His name indicates that he is of Tamil descent.

    It was very heart warming to read your post on how you all retain our Indian traditional values.

    Do write more about your life there.

    Regards
    Vidya
     
  2. Blondie

    Blondie Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear Neesha,
    That is awsome that you turned out to be related ( in a sense) to the father of our nation. It is a credit to our philosophy and hinduism ( which in my personal opinion is the best religion if one has to be religious) that the expat community has retained the core and rejected the later on unwanted practices.

    An unbiased historian will bring to light that our "very civilised" colonists were no less evil than the slave merchants and Nazis in making the brown skinned natives to do their dirty work. Time will come when tyranny in every form will be studied by the young at schools (not only the african slavery and holocaust).

    Keep posting i am interested in knowing about Gandhiji's ashram in SA.......
     
  3. gkalai

    gkalai New IL'ite

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    Hello Neesha,
    This is Kalai from Pondicherry but living in USA at present. I have a friend here who is from south Africa. His family still follows Indian culture. I was really happy to see them still celebrating the festivals that we do. Thats when i started surfing over the net about south African Indians. "Hats off" to all you guys for following our culture still. Neesha, please write about young generation out there. How is the education system? Are we still indentured workers? (Hope not)...Well, i am really interested in knowing more about us in SA...pls do write more...
    Regards
    Kalai
     
  4. Neesha

    Neesha Senior IL'ite

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    Hi friends

    Nice to see the interest shown about us SA Indians. Oh I didn't realize Saudi Arabia is also SA!! till I read Krishnaamma's posts.
    I've been a bit busy lately and furthermore I don't know where to start I have so much to say.
    Let me first answer Kalai. These are my impressions and I will have to generalise also - its not a scholar's article or some ologist's - sociologist, archaeologist, etc. I write from my own experiences and impressions and if I offend anyone, I apologise.
    No we are not still indentured, we are free!! and infact after 1994 even freeer! That's when SA became a democratic nonracial country. The indenture contract was for 5 yrs therafter you were supposed to get a free passage back and a bonus payment. Many workers were treated harshly and didn't get that bonus. They complained to the Indian government (or Gandhi on their behalf). But most indentured labourers didn't go back to India because they had crossed the seas which was taboo in their communities and they came from impoverished places (in India) where it had been difficult to make a living initially so they took their chances here - acquring some land - small scale farming of vegetable, working in sugar companies, railways etc. Many young men had run away without their parents permission so how could they go back impoverished. In fact they started doing doing quite well contributing to the economy and frightening the white people who saw them as a threat and competition to their livelihood and riches. They passed some laws to prevent them from participating in business etc which Gandhi helped to fight against.
    In time the Indian community became quite succesful as workers, teachers, lawyers, doctors businessmen etc. While we have poverty, unemployment etc we enjoy more comforts than our parents and grandparents who struggled to make ends meet.
    In general in the younger generation most people work (women too) if you are fortunately not unemployed. My mother's generation are about the last of the stay home mothers. Our economy is such plus as you get accustomed to more and more material comforts its hard to disentangle.
    Our dressing is largely western but we use traditional clothing for prayer functions, weddings etc. Infact we get more Indian clothing now than 20 yrs ago. When I was a kid our parents would buy dresses or get party dresses sewn for weddings etc. The ladies' had their saries but if you saw a youngster with an Indian outfit you'd eye her with envy cos some lucky person in her family went to India! My mother wears a sari almost every day now but when she was young they only had western outfits/ dresses.
    There's a wide range on how 'Indian" people are. But when I browze Indusladies I feel we are quite diluted!! Some listen to eastern music, watch Bollywood films etc but you have some people that only listen to western music, films etc.(a big chunk of the youngsters) But for most people its a mix. We've integrated into SAn society and adopted quite a bit of western habits. In KwazuluNatal we made a huge impact, our food also since people of all races know an Indian curry, samoosas and biryani. But our food is different from India food because not having all the ingredients our great grandparents adapted.:-oFor example dosai and idli are only made on occassion and in general Tamil people are good at it. I was shocked to know its a staple diet like almost every day for South Indians. The adaptation was that in large familes when there was no bread cos the workers took it for their lunch mum/ granny made dosai for the kids at home but sweetened the batter with sugar and we had that with tea for breakfast!

    Have to run but will update you on the present generation and our habits. Take care all.
    Neesha
    PS Kalay - many people came from Pondicherry too.
     
  5. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Neesha
    Absolutely enjoying reading your thread. I really regret you did not post in Snippets Forum for greater audience as so many more would have enjoyed *just my opinion hope you dont mind)
    Its fascinating to read your rich history and background. Looking forward to more..
     
  6. gkalai

    gkalai New IL'ite

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    Thank you neesha ...I was telling my friend (from SA) that i am very eager to visit SA. Probably we would be visiting next year. I would love to meet you all ...If any one is interested in knowing how pondicherry is..i will get them the pictures. I am going to India in December. I am running out of words to praise you guys...Would like to keep in touch with you...
    Will mail you soon...
    Regards
    Kalai
     
  7. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Hi neesha,

    it is very interesting to know about your culture, heritage and history....
    your relation to gandhi...everything is so nice...first :clap:clap for the way you have written....
    hope you find your relatives...do post some pictures....start with the memorial of gandhi..that mandela opened...it would be nice.....
     
  8. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Neesha,

    A very very interesting insight into the times and lives of immigrant Indians. It was only when I left India to live abroad did I realize that there were Indians all over the world who really were not Indians anymore, you know what I mean ! I met many Punjabis and Gujeratis in England who had never stepped foot in India. But for all the outward appearances, they looked like traditional Indians, more often, more traditional than the Indians from India!
    Many years ago, we were holidaying in Florida and stayed at a motel. I was piqued to note it was run by an Indian family and went out to speak to the lady in the sari. She, at once, invited us to their private quarters where the in-laws and son and his family, all lived together. They offered some wonderful masala chai and namkeen and had a puja corner with all the God's pictures. I was fully astonished to learn that they had never set foot in India since generations! They were from Surinam!
    I feel, when all the roots are cut off, you grow your own roots and preserve them even more carefully guarding the heritage.
    Do make the family tree if possible. You will surely find some long lost relations.

    L, Kamla
     
  9. Neesha

    Neesha Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Kamla

    Thanks for your response. It's a fact in life that when you have less of something or you feel it is in danger of being taken away, your guard it more carefully whereas if there's a lot of something and no danger of it being taken away you take it for granted. I think that explains to a large extent why the Indians staying abroad have managed to preserve their heritage and cling to their customs more strongly than even the Indians in India. This was echoed by a Guyanese gentleman of Indian origin who says the Guyanese Indians (also of indentured forefathers) who have moved to USA have set up temples and practice their religion and customs more visibly than Indians from India.
    It has not been easy - our great grandparents some of whom were illiterate and even our parents generation faced ridicule from others and even from their own children. Obviously some customs got distorted from their original purpose and many customs and rituals were forgotten or done away with if it didn't serve the purpose but we've always looked to India for the religious scriptures and interpretations.

    Keep checking this post for updates on what I've discovered and life in SA.

    Regards Neesha
     
  10. vidhukumar

    vidhukumar Senior IL'ite

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    hey neesha!
    this is a very interesting thread.....there have been many write ups about immigrant indians,but yours is one of a kind!!!we all know about indians in U.S,U.K ,middle east etc....all are common.....about software engineers and the like.....but indians who have gone 5-6 generations back!!!thats something i didnt know off&also dont know about SA....so like everyone else am also waiting for updates about your country&life.thanks for giving us an insight about your wonderful indian life outside india.
     

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