Indians honoured on wall of fame

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pretoria - The names of over 200 indentured labourers have been put on the Wall of Names at Freedom Park to mark 150 years since the arrival of Indians.

The wall bears the names of 75 000 national heroes who died during pre-colonial and genocide wars, the two world wars and liberation struggle.

Freedom Park is seen as a national monument and therefore the ideal location for this tribute.

Indians arrived in South Africa on 16 November 1860 and worked as slaves in the sugar plantations. But, most of them toiled their way out of the dehumanising and demeaning situation of slavery to excellence in different fields.

Unveiling the Wall of Names today, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane called on South Africans to reinvent Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent approach.

She also called on South Africans to narrow selfish interests - which have became norm today - just like Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo and Albert Luthuli did in their time.

"We need to resist and fight tendencies that seek to erode what make us human. We should discard traits that are anathema to public goodwill," Mokonyane said.

Mokonyane said the story of South Africa will never be complete without the chapter on the people of Indian descent, stressing that their arrival, changed the history of South Africa.

Tributes such as these to the Indian community have been coming from all corners.

Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo said the Indian community had provided integral "leadership and innovation in the areas of politics and governance, commerce and industry, education and the sciences, arts, culture and sport" throughout South Africa.

Despite the restrictions placed on the community by the apartheid state, they have made a formidable economic contribution to South Africa, he said.

President Jacob Zuma and his Deputy Kgalema Motlanthe have also added their voices articulating that the people of Indian descent have played a vital role in making and shaping the country's history and that their voyage from being slaves to citizens is intertwined with the struggle for democracy and freedom in South Africa.

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