A little-known aspect of Indian-South African relations

Soon after Jan van Riebeeck set up a Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, to supply provisions to Dutch ships plying to and from India and the East Indies, people from India were taken to the Cape and sold into slavery to do domestic work for the settlers, as well the dirty and hard work on the farms.

IndianslaveA woman from Bengal named Mary was bought for van Riebeeck in Batavia in 1653. Two years later, in 1655, van Riebeeck purchased, from the Commander of a Dutch ship returning from Asia to Holland, a family from Bengal - Domingo and Angela and their three children.

On May 21, 1656, the marriage was solemnised at the Cape between Jan Wouters, a white, and Catherine of Bengal who was liberated from slavery. Later in the year Anton Muller was given permission to marry Domingo Elvingh, a woman from Bengal.


Indian roots in South Africa go back to 1860 - there were, of course, Indian slaves of Bengali, Malabar and Coromandel stock in the Cape around the early part of the 18th century.

Yet Indians in this country remained stateless right up to 1961.

Neither the Dutch, British nor their successors who became the first governors of the Union of SA conferred citizenship on Indians.

Perfidious Albion (Britain) disowned Indians in their South African colonies right up to 1910 - even though Indians were their subjects. After union, their sons and daughters persevered doggedly, to repatriate Indians.

When India emancipated itself from the yoke of the British by winning its political independence, it, in a way, retaliated by thumbing its nose at South Africa.

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Excellent info.
I met many 'indian' looking teachers from St Lucia last year during a book exhibition. Mr Compton, owner of La Casa del Vega guesthouse, looks indian. Both Mr Compton and his wife who is part white (mulatto) were warm and friendly and treated me like family. I made roti and curry "golden apple' pomme-cythere for them. I also met a beautiful Afro St Lucian nurse from Nottingham UK who was on vacation with her handsome husband of many years from Mauritus. A few Guyanese have had a small Divali celebration in 2003 sponsored by Barron of St Lucia.

Indians have suffered in many parts of the world including India during those times. They were considered slaves, untouchables, beaten, arrested without any trials, arrested without any reasons. Today, those Indians play great roles in economy in every side of the country they're in. Especially in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, England, South Africa, Nigeria, United States of America, Indians have suffered a great deal but they did not break down. They lived solely on hope that they will prosper and they did. Their loyalty to their work has paid off because today, their grandchildren and great grandchildren are living the better life what they have seen nor imagine. I thank all the Indians who have suffered for us to make our life the better life and give us something to believe in. Example of these pictures represented that they were not called by names but by numbers. Like animals. To that point, our ancestors were humiliated just to feed us and clothes us and educate us.

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