SA to mark arrival of Indians in the country

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pretoria - South Africa is to celebrate 150 years of the arrival of Indians in the country later this year, said President Jacob Zuma on his first Asian state visit to India on Wednesday.

Indian people first arrived in South Africa on 16 November 1860.

"This is befitting given the very deep historical, cultural, economic, family and political ties between our two countries and two peoples.

"When we celebrate the 150 years of the arrival of Indians in South Africa, we do so fully conscious of the value that our compatriots of Indian descent add to the diversity and unique character of our beloved country. In those 150 years, we have seen Indians who were brought to the country as slaves in the sugar plantations toil their way out of the dehumanizing and demeaning garments of slavery, to excellence in different fields," the President said.

He added that their arrival "has unleashed many heroes and heroines who have left an indelible mark in the collective memory of the nation, also at a political level".

"Many outstanding freedom fighters of Indian ancestry in our country continue to inspire us because of their bravery and commitment. Like many of us, these giants of the struggle for justice and peace were inspired by the giant extraordinary Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi," said President Zuma.

The country will celebrate the achievements of Indian people in fields such as sport, commerce, cricket and social cohesion.

Zuma added that South Africa will also mark several important events throughout the course of the year kicking off with the World Cup next week.

"In approximately a week's time, the whole world will turn its focus to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup spectacular. I say spectacular because we have thoroughly turned all stones to make Africa proud in our delivery of the best FIFA World Cup edition ever hosted, "he said.

From 10 to 26 September South Africa will host the Champions League which features the top 20/20 cricket sides after which the country will send a team to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games.

"We will send our team with one message and one message only, when the medals are counted South Africa should be the team with the highest medal count," Zuma said jokingly.