Thursday, February 15, 2018


The leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC and Deputy President of the country – Cyril Ramaphosa – was today elected the fifth President of the country following the resignation of Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa, 65, was elected in parliament by members of his ruling ANC and many opposition MPs. The DA and EFF opposition groups did not vote for Ramaphosa. The EFF members walked out of the house. Subry Govender filed this report for Africalink of Radio Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) ….. .

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Zuma Feb 14 2018 INTRO: South Africa’s beleaguered president, Jacob Zuma, has defied his ruling ANC and rejected the call on him to resign. He made this statement on Tuesday, February 14 2018, while saying that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC had not given him any reason to recall him. He will face a vote of no confidence in parliament on Thursday (Feb 15 2018) – to be brought by his own ANC. Subry Govender filed this report for the Africalink programme of Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany)….. .

Sunday, February 4, 2018


(A YOUNG DEVOTEE CARRYING THE KAVADY AND WALKING TOWARDS THE TEMPLE) The rich cultures and traditions brought by our forefathers and mothers to South Africa since the 1860s continues brightly and with all the spirit and vigour today. This has been demonstrated over the past week when thousands of people participated in the second day of the Kavady religious ceremony all over the country today (Feb 4).
(DEVOTEES CARRYING THEIR KAVADIES AND WALKING INTO THE TEMPLE GROUNDS) The first day of the religious ceremony took place on Wednesday (January 31). Our ancestors brought along the vibrant tradition of the Kavady when they were recruited to work as indentured labourers (or slaves) on the sugar plantations of the then Natal Colony. The Natal Colony was at that time in 1860 a colony of the British Empire. Our ancestors passed on the rich tradition of Kavady to their children and grand-children where ever they worked on the sugar plantations on the north and south coast of the Natal Colony and in and around the city of Durban. Today the Kavady ceremony is continued by the fourth, fifth and sixth generation descendants in all the towns and cities where they are settled.
I visited and observed the rich spiritual day at the 118-year-old Umdloti Drift temple and the nearby Tower Road Temple in Verulam, north of the city of Durban in South Africa.
(TOWER ROAD TEMPLE DEVOTEES WALKING TOWARDS THE TEMPLE) Similar ceremonies were observed at temples all over the KwaZulu-Natal province in areas such as KwaDukuza, Tongaat, Mount Edgecombe, Phoenix, Durban, Chatsworth, Merebank, Isipingo, and Umkomaas, Umzinto, Park Rynie and Port Shepstone on the south coast of province. Kavady ceremonies were also observed in temples in the Johannesburg-Pretoria region, Port Elizabeth, East London and Cape Town. Devotees of all ages - men, women, boys and girls - showed their commitment by not only carrying the holy bamboo structures but by also participating in the singing of devotional songs. Many of the devotees also showed their faith by pulling chariots of all sizes and shapes. There were also members of Bhajan groups who provided support for devotees by singing religious songs and pelting musical drums.
One of the officials at the Umdloti Drift Temple, Mr Reggy Naidoo, told me that he had been associated with the Kavady ceremony from a young age since the early 1940s. His father at that time was a senior official of the temple. “We are continuing with this ceremony because it is an important part of our culture and traditions,” he said. “On Wednesday we had more than 700 devotees carrying the Kavady and today more than 400 participated in the ceremony. I think from next year, we will try to hold the Kavady on one day. This will be on the official Thai Poosam day.
(ONE OF THE DEVOTEES AT THE UMDLOTI DRIFT TEMPLE) “This is a rich tradition that will continue for ever and ever”, he said. What is amazing about this religious ceremony is that scores of officials and volunteers are involved fully in ensuring that the devotees offer their prayers without any problems. Officials and volunteers were seen helping the devotees in preparing their Kavadies and leading the prayer processions. Another official involved in the ceremony, Mr Danny Chetty, said they were privileged to be involved. “This is a rich legacy and we have to ensure that future generations continue with what had been bequeathed by our ancestors,” he said. “It is absolutely fantastic to see so many young boys and girls and teenagers participating the Kavady ceremony. We have to encourage all our young people to become involved.”
At the Tower Road temple in Lotusville, Verulam, devotees appeared to be just as vigorous and vibrant. In addition to the normal-size bamboo Kavady strcutures, they also pulled huge chariots. At one stage of the ceremony, a number of the devotees were seen running while pulling the chariots.
The annual Kavady ceremony demonstrates that the rich and vibrant cultures of the people of Indian-origin in South Africa continues to flourish despite all the problems of oppression and suppression they suffered not only at the hands of colonisers but also by people who tried to impose their own thinking on our people. Some of these people unashamedly continue to try to hoodwink the poor and the uninformed. They must immediately desist from pursuing their nefarious, immoral and anti-spiritual activies. Ends –

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

George Gangen Ponnen – a son of indentured sugar cane labourers who joined the struggles for a non-racial South Africa despite acute repression and racism at the hands of the minority white oppressors.

(GEORGE GANGEN PONNEN) By Subry Govender In this feature in our series on “Struggle Heroes and Heroines”, veteran journalist, Subry Govender, recalls the life of George Gangen Ponnen, the son of indentured labourers who concentrated his entire life in improving the working conditions of the labour class and who made an invaluable contribution in the political struggles through the South African Communist Party(SACP), the Natal Indian Congress and the African National Congress. Ponnen, who returned from exile in 1994 to cast his “freedom” vote, died two years later in January 1996. During the course of my compilation of the profiles of struggle heroes and heroines, the veteran activists that I had interacted with came forward with the names of a string of people who played their roles in the liberation struggles. One of those activists is George Gangen Ponnen who, despite his poor and poverty-stricken family background, immersed himself fully from an early age in the trade union movement and the political struggles of the South African Communist Party, Natal Indian Congress and the ANC. During his involvement in the struggles, which began at a knitting mill factory in Umbilo Road in Durban in the late 1920s, Ponnen was instrumental in the establishment of 27 trade unions from 1936 to 1945. Who is this little known stalwart who made an indelible contribution in the struggles for a non-racial and democratic South Africa? According to the information I had obtained from his close comrade, Swaminathan Gounden, and others such as Judge Thuma Pillay, Ponnen was a “salt-of-the-earth” person whose work at grass-roots levels consolidated and promoted the work of his leaders in the different trade union and political movements. Ponnen was born on the June 1, 1913, to parents who had settled in an area called Rooikopjes, near Westville, west of Durban, after completing their five-year indentureship at nearby sugar estates. His father, Ponnen, and his mother, Gangamma, had been recruited from the Madras Presidency in South India in the 1890s. He was the seventh child in a large family of seven brothers and one sister. He started school at the age of seven in 1920 at the St Thomas Govt-Aided Indian School and his social and political awareness began at this time whenever he and his siblings used to visit the nearby areas of Westville and Durban. He found that the restaurants and cinemas were restricted for whites only and “Indian, coloured and Africans” were not allowed to use the best and safe parts of Durban’s beaches. In 1921 his schooling was disrupted when his father passed on and his mother was forced to move the family to an area in Durban called Manning Place. He had to leave school and started work at the tender age of 10 at a cigar company in Alice Street, Durban, to help his family. Although he was in and out of school whenever conditions improved in the family, Ponnen only managed to complete standard four in 1928. He worked at several knitting and clothing factories in the Umbilo Road area in Durban where he came face to face with the exploitation of Indian, African and Coloured workers. It was during this period that he befriended another worker, H A Naidoo, and both of them joined together to promote the interests of the exploited workers. It was during this period that Ponnen with Naidoo were drawn into the South African Communist Party.
They were the first South Africans of Indian-origin to be accepted into the SACP as full members in 1930. At this time he also became interested and attended meetings of the Anti-Fascist League that was established to counter a right-wing and reactionary organisation called, Grey Shirts. This organisation was affiliated to Hitler’s Nazi Organisation, that was busy holding rallies all over South Africa. Because of his activities, life for Ponnen was made very difficult by his employers in the clothing, knitting, iron and steel and other factories. At every turn he was dismissed when his employers found that he was involved in establishing trade unions and promoting the rights of the workers. He also had to put up with reactionary elements in the Garment Workers Union, which was started by a British immigrant, J C Bolton, to cater mainly for white and some Indian and Coloured workers. Ponnen clashed openly with Bolton when he called for African workers to be also registered as members of the GWU. He also clashed with another trade union leader who wanted to separate African workers from their fellow Indian colleagues. The African workers were told that “Indians were only shop-keepers and exploiters”. But when Ponnen told the workers that the “Indian workers” were also part of the exploited working class and the only one who owned a shop was the “reactionary calling himself a leader”, the African workers confronted the “opportunist” and made him run for his life. During this period, Ponnen and his friend, H A Naidoo, attended evening classes at the Indian Technical Institute in the former Cross Street, Durban, to further their studies. But he and H A Naidoo had to abandon their studies after they were overwhelmed by their trade union and political work.
Between 1936 and 1945, Ponnen with H A Naidoo, helped to establish 27 unions that included the Iron and Steel Workers’ Union, Sugar Workers’ Union, Dundee Glass Workers’ Union, SA Railways and Harbour Workers Union, Natal Coal Miners Union, and the Cigarette and Tobacco Workers’ Union. When organising the various trade unions, Ponnen recruited and trained hundreds of workers who became trade union officials in a number of trade unions. They included P M Harry in the Iron and Steel Workers Union; A P Pillay in the Sugar Workers Union; L Ramsunder in the Laundry, Cleaning and Dyeing Workers Union; P T Cooppen in the Sugar Workers Union; S V Reddy in the SA Tin Workers Union; M Ramcheran in the Tobacco Workers Union; K Johnnie Naiker, Laundry, Cleaning and Dyeing Union; Sam Pillay, Food and Canning Workers Union; N G Moodley, Brick, Tile and Allied Workers Union; M D Naidoo, Tea, Coffee and Chicory Workers Union; R R Pillay, Natal Coal Miners’ Union; E I Moola, Chemical Workers Union; Vera Ponnen, Mineral, Water and Brewery Workers’ Union; Stephen Dlamini, Textile Workers Union and the S A Congress of Trade Unions(SACTU); R D Naidoo, Bakery Workers Union; and Mannie Pillay, Biscuit and Confectionary Workers Union. At the same time, Ponnen organised the workers to participate in the political struggles of the Natal Indian Congress, the African National Congress and other progressive movements. The struggles he became involved in, included the Passive Resistance Campaign led by the Natal Indian Congress; and the Defiance Campaign and the Anti-Pass campaign led by the Congress Alliance that comprised the ANC, NIC, TIC, Congress of Democrats and the Coloured Peoples’ Congress. Ponnen also organised the formation of the Natal Indian Youth League with H A Naidoo and Sooboo Rajah in order to counter the reactionary political leadership that captured the Natal Indian Congress at this time. (Sooboo Rajah in the 1970s was associated with the non-racial Southern Natal Soccer Board that became fully involved in the struggles against apartheid sport. Rajah was involved with sports activists of the calibre of M N Govender, R K Naidoo, Ramhori Lutchman, S K Chetty and Dharam Ramlall at that time. At the same time while George Ponnen and his comrade-in-arms, H A Naidoo, consolidated their struggles in the trade union movement, they also became involved in the struggles to remove reactionary elements from the Natal Indian Congress. They recruited workers and campaigned vigorously with the open support of Dr Monty Naicker, George Singh, Cassim Amra, Dawood Seedat, E I Moola, P M Harry, M P Naicker, and M D Naidoo. More than 40 000 people attended a meeting at Currie’s Fountain in the late 1940s to express their disquiet at the reactionary policies adopted by A I Kajee, P R Pather and their officials who were leaders of the NIC at this time. During the elections, the reactionary group was overthrown and Dr Monty Naicker was elected president. George Ponnen was elected as one of the vice-presidents. He occupied this position until 1950 when he was served with a five-year banning order. At this time, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and his progressive leaders toppled the reactionary leaders of the TIC in the Johannesburg region.
Dr Naicker and Dr Dadoo joined hands to work with the ANC and other progressive forces in the country. But the white minority National Party Government at this time started to embark on a series of repressive actions and Ponnen was one of the activists who was detained under the 90-day detention law and later banned and house arrested for five years. When the ANC, PAC and other organisations were banned in 1960 and leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others were arrested and charged with treason, Ponnen was once again detained for 90 days and re-detained for 30 days. He was arrested and charged for refusing to give evidence in the Treason Trial in 1964. He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment but he appealed against this sentence. He was given bail and during this “freedom” he skipped the country in 1965 to go into exile. He and his wife, Vera, went to Zambia via Botswana and for 10 years were involved in the work of the ANC and SACTU. Here in Zambia they established a clothing factory during this period to assist ANC members, refugees and their families. In 1975 the Ponnens moved to Canada where they joined their two daughters. For the next 15 years, he continued with the work of the ANC and travelled between Canada, Zambia and Tanzania. They also established a clothing factory in Tanzania to help refugees who sought the assistance of the ANC. Four years after they had settled down in Canada, his wife, Vera, died in 1979. This was a serious setback but Ponnen continued with his work for the ANC. In the late 1980s Ponnen was struck down with ill-health but despite this he followed with keen interest the political developments in his home country. There were behind-the-scenes talks between Nelson Mandela and the National Party regime and between the ANC and white business, political and social leaders. These developments led to the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990 and the unbanning of the ANC, PAC and other organisations. Despite ill-health, Ponnen returned to the country in February 1994 to cast his vote for a free South Africa, the ANC and Nelson Mandela. Two years after visualising his dream of a free South Africa, Ponnen died in Durban at the age of 83 on 9th January 1996. His funeral was held at the David Landau Community in Asherville.
The enormous contributions made by Ponnen for the improvement of the labour conditions of workers was highlighted in a letter published in the former Leader newspaper on July 21 1995. The writer, who signed off only as: “Exploited Worker”, paid this wonderful tribute to Ponnen: “More than 65 years ago George Gangen Ponnen, familiarly known as “G” in the ANC and SACP circles and some of his comrades, especially the late Mr H A Naidoo, fought tirelessly against unfair labour practices. “He was a great Tamil stalwart who at one time was called upon to give speeches in Tamil on socialism at the Drama Hall in Magazine Barracks, Somtseu Road, Durban, because majority of the residents there were Tamil-speaking. “I believe that there are few in the history of South Africa who have done more for the proper treatment of the worker than “G” along with some of his comrades. “Their efforts were a lead-up to the Labour Relations Act, which is currently the subject of great debate. “I trust that all the harsh treatment meted out to workers in the labour field of the new South Africa will be wiped out once and for all by the efforts of their success.” Veteran stalwart, Swaminathan Gounden, described Ponnen as a great revolutionary who sacrificed his life for the freedom of South Africa. Said Gounden: “I can only pay tribute to him by saying that he lived and worked all his life for the creation of a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa. Although he sacrificed a great deal, he had no regrets. All his life and all his work had been given to the cause of freedom in South Africa.” If George Ponnen was alive today, I am certain he would have been wondering what had happened to the true values and principles for which he and his comrades had fought and sacrificed their lives for. I am certain he would have set in motion steps to revitalise and re-activate progressive organisations for the people to feel free and involved in our new, non-racial and democratic South Africa. He would not have put up with a situation where people are made to feel that they are not South Africans. ends (

Monday, January 22, 2018


(Our matriarch, MUNIAMMA, OUTSIDE HER SON'S HOME IN PORT SHPESTONE IN THE EARLY 1970s) MUNIAMMA FAMILY HISTORY BOOK LAUNCH COMMITTEE Email: Tel: 082 376 9053/031 568 1309 January 22 2018 Vanakkam, Namaskaram, Namasthe and Sanibonai. It gives me great pleasure to inform you and extended family members that our family history book will be launched at a special cultural function at the Enchanted Gardens Conference Centre at the former Durban International Airport, near Isipingo, on Saturday, April 28. The decision to launch on this date has been taken following a meeting at the home of Triza Reddy in Chatsworth on January 14. The following family members make up the Muniamma Family History Book Launch Committee: 1. Ms Triza Reddy 2. Allan Nadasen 3. Ms Dolly Reddy 4. Ms Monica Moodley 5. Ms Angie Naidoo 6. Ms Karnagie Reddy 7. Mrs Thyna Subramoney, 8. Mrs Baby Govender, 9. Subry (Sadha) Govender. Mrs Margie Nair and Logan Govender (Dick Uncle’s son) have also been co-opted onto the Committee. At the meeting it was decided that we should hold the launch either on March 18 or March 25 but after consultations with a wide variety of family members, it was agreed we should hold the launch on Saturday, April 28 (a day after Freedom Day). This decision was taken after it was felt that it would give members from Johannesburg and other distant areas to make preparations to attend our historic and landmark function. MEETING WITH ENCHANTED GARDENS AND CONFIRMATION OF VENUE Following further discussions with family members, we visited Enchanted Gardens on Monday, Jan 22, and held talks with the owner, Mrs Losh Naidoo. We held a very fruitful meeting and Mrs Naidoo was excited that we would be holding such a historical function at her venue. We have now booked the place for Saturday, April 28, and will have to pay a ten percent deposit soon. Please find attached the full details of the premises, the facilities and the food to be provided. CONFIRMATION OF ATTENDANCE BY FAMILY MEMBERS REPRESENTING THE DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF THE MUNIAMMA FAMILY -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In view of the importance of our function for all descendants and their spouses, it’s vitally important that we need confirmation of attendance by family members from the different branches of the Muniamma clan. The descendants and their spouses will represent the following children of Muniamma and Coopoosamy Govender: 1. Mrs Baigium Naidoo (known as Periamma of Merebank) 2. Mr Peri Nadasen ( known as Port Shepstone uncle) 3. Mr Chinna Nadasen (known as Licky Uncle) 4. Mr Sooboo Govender (known as Sooboo uncle of Isipingo) 5. Mr Munsamy Govender (known as Isaac Govender of Pietermaritzburg) 6. Mr Velayudam Govender (known as Dick uncle) 7. Mrs Salatchie Subramoney (known as Ottawa auntie) 8. Mrs Savundalay Padaychie (known as Dundee aunty) 9. Mrs Mariamah Subramoney (known as Patcha aunty) 10. Mr Boya Govender (known as Percy uncle) 11. Mrs Muniammah Moodley (known as Amoy auntie). PAYMENT FOR THE HISTORY BOOK (THE TITLE WILL ONLY BE DISCLOSED AT THE FUNCTION) Following our meeting and further discussions with the greater family members, it has been agreed that the family members will pay R200 for a copy of the book. SPONSORSHIP FOR THE COST OF ENCHANTED GARDENS In view of the historic occasion of the function, we are trying to secure a sponsorship to meet the cost of R17 500 for the hire of the premises and other expenses. We are doing this in order NOT to charge family members any fees to attend the function. However, those family members who are in a position to make a sponsorship or donation towards the costs are welcome to do so. RECOGINITION OF OUR ELDERS In view of the fact that only three elders of the second generation are still around with us, we have decided to accord them special status at the function. They are Dundee aunty, Amoy aunty and Mrs Soundler Govender, widow of Percy uncle. We would also accord special honour to the following third generation descendants: 1. Mrs Panjala Naidoo (eldest daughter of Peri Nadas), 2. Mrs Baby Chetty of Isipingo (eldest daughter of Sooboo uncle), 3. Mrs Gandhi Appadoo (third daughter of Chinna Licky Nadasen) 4. Mrs Ambiga Murugas Govender (eldest daughter of Ottawa Salatchie) 5. Mrs Neela Govender of Port Shepstone (second eldest daughter of Peri Nadasen). SUGGESTED PROGRAMME The programme for the day is still being finalised by the committee and once this has been discussed, we will inform family members of the full details. The programme will include items of our centuries-old rich culture and traditions. BOOK LAUNCH WHAT’S UP GROUP Ms Monica Moodley, daughter of Dolly (daughter of Patcha aunty), has already set up a Muniamma Book Launch Group in order to keep family members updated about the launch. Please contact Monica on 084 298 5430 to be included in the group. CULTURAL ARTISTS Any descendant of the Muniamma family who is prepared to present a cultural item, such as a Bharatyanatyam dance or a cultural sketch, is free to contact any one of the committee members. CONCLUSION All family members must take note this is an all-inclusive cultural/traditional family event and we need attendance by the majority of descendants. We would be grateful if a large percentage of the third, fourth and fifth generation descendants try to attend the all-important function. It must be noted that this book has been written primarily as information for the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and future generations about their roots. They must remember that if they don’t know their roots, then they won’t who they are and they won’t know their future.

Friday, January 19, 2018


MUNIAMMA FAMILY HISTORY BOOK LAUNCH Jan 19 2018 Dear Allan and Family Members Further to communications with the Muniamma Family History Book Launch Committee this past week, I wish to advise that Saturday, April 28 has been booked for our function. This also follows interactions with other family members who believe that the holiday weekend of April 27/28/29 gives all people a chance to attend the function. We will be meeting with one of the staff members of Enchanted Gardens on Monday, Jan 22, at 12 noon to discuss the costs, food and other matters relating to our cultural function. Those who want to join us, please get in touch with the writer. Meanwhile, I wish to advise that we are looking at 100 people attending our function. In this regard, I would be grateful if each family house-hold would kindly confirm the number of people who would be joining us. We need this confirmation so that we could draw up a chart of the family members who will be attending. The Muniamma Family History Book Launch Committee members will also have to compile a list of those people who will be at the function. Please note the following: PROSPECTIVE PROGRAMME FOR LAUNCH 1. Cultural items to be arranged by Allan. 2. Photo slide show to be organised by Monica Moodley. 3. Radio feature to be produced by Subry Govender. 4. Programme Director – Angie Reddy. 5. Co – Host - Ivashanie (Patcha aunty’s grand-daughter). 6. Welcome and speech by Subry Govender. 7. Letter to be written to the Indian Consul General in Durban inviting him to attend the function as a guest. 8. Vote of thanks – Alan Nadasen. 9. Logan Govender – Dick Uncle’s son – would be given a special task in the programme. 10. The two surviving children – Dundee Aunty and Amoy Aunty; sister-in-law Soundler aunty (Percy Uncle’s widow); and eldest third generation descendant – Panjala Naidoo – would be special guests at the function. They would be accordingly honoured. Family members would be invited to pay an amount of R200 for one copy of the book. We would welcome confirmations from family members soonest. Many thanks and kind regards. Sadha (Subry) Govender Committee members: Allan Nadasen, Ms Anjie Naidoo, Ms Dolly Reddy, Ms Monica Moodley, Ms Baby Govender, Mrs Thyna Subramoney, Ms Triza Reddy, Mrs Margie Nair, and Sadha Govender

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


The beleaguered South African President – Jacob Zuma – appears to have pulled off another master stroke when he announced that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry will investigate the allegations of state capture. He made the announcement hours before the newly-elected National Executive Committee of the ruling ANC under its new president – Cyril Ramaphosa - began discussions on the political crisis facing the country following repeated calls for Zuma to be removed from his presidency. Zuma said he had appointed the Deputy Chief Justice – Raymond Zondo – to head the commission after discussions with the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. He still has to outline the terms of reference of the commission. Subry Govender filed this report…… .