Monday, February 29, 2016


"To use bitter words, when kind words are at hand, Is like picking unripe fruit when the ripe fruit is there." "To get wealth and security by guile Is like one who pours water into a pot of unbaked clay."
(VERULAM STUDENTS UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF CULTURAL LEADER, MRS SARO MOODLEY, TAKING PART IN THE PROGRAMME TO HIGHLIGHT THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF ONE OF INDIA'S GREATEST POETS-SAINTS, THIRUVALLUVAR.) By Subry Govender The life, teachings and philosophy of one of India's greatest poets-saints, Thiruvalluvar, was celebrated by the Verulam Sivan Sabay and several associate groups at the Sabay's headquarters in Brindahavan, Verulam, on Sunday, February 28. Thiruvalluvar, who was born in the temple town of Madurai in Tamil Nadu more than 2 000 years ago, was best known as the author of the Tamil spiritual book, Tirukkural. It's said that Thiruvalluvar was also born 50 years before Jesus Christ. Many later day philosophers and sages considered the Tirukkural as a masterpiece of human thought, comparable to "the Bible, John Milton's Paradise Lost and the works of Plato". The Thirukkural contains 1 330 verses which promotes the well-being of the human being in all aspects of life without any regard to status, class, caste or position in society. Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society, is quoted as saying the verses "contain the essence of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the six Darshanas". "Thirukkural is regarded as a universal Bible. It is another Gita, Koran or Zend Avesta," wrote Swami Sivananda. In addition to the Verulam Sivan Sabay, the other cultural groups that took part in the celebration under the auspices of the Verulam Cultural Co-Ordinating Committee were Shri Siva Subramaniar Alayam, Havenridge Cultural Organisation, Verulam Kalay Kazhagam, and the Verulam Cultural Group.
(DR THIRU MOODLEY ADDRESSING THE PEOPLE ABOUT THIRUVALLUVAR) Dr Thiru Moodley, a veteran cultural leader who studied the life and works of Thiruvalluvar, was the guest speaker at the function. Dr Moodley, who has been attached to the Dravida Society, the Divine Life Society and other organisations, gave a detailed account of how Thiruvalluvar inspired the people of Tamil Nadu, India and the world to lead morally upright lives. Ms Anusha Kisten, secretary of the Verulam Sivan Sabay, said the celebration of Thiruvalluvar's life was aimed at "further promoting the values and principles of the Tamil culture". "We all have to start reading and absorbing the virtues of the great Saint's life and teachings to become better persons in our societies and communities," said Ms Kisten.
(MRS SARO MOODLEY) Mrs Saro Moodley, cultural leader and head of the Av-vaiyyaarr Kalay Sangam, led a group of students in highlighting the works and teachings of the poet-saint. Mrs Moodley and the students quoted some of the spiritual and world leaders who used Thiruvalluvar as a role model in their lives.
(Dr Thiru Moodley with officials of the Verulam Sivan Sabay (from L to R): Mrs Vijay Cuppusamy, Mr Tim Govender (chairperson), Dr Krish Thungavelu, and Ms Anusha Kisten (secretary Verulam Sivan Sabay) One of the international leaders was the Rev. Dr G U Pope, who travelled to India to convert the people to Christianity. But after studying Thiruvalluvar and the Thirukkural, Dr Pope desisted from converting people and instead became a transformed person himself. He became the first person to translate the Thirukkural into English in 1886. (VERULAM SIVAN SABAY OFFICIALS WHO HOSTED THE THIRUVALLUVAR CELEBRATION)
(VERULAM SIVAN SABAY LADIES WHO HOSTED THE CELEBRATION OF THIRUVALLUVAR) Before Dr Pope, there were other spiritual leaders such as Mr Ariel, who translated the Tirukkural into French, and Dr Graul, who translated the "Tamil Bible" into German and Latin. Another spiritual leader who used the Tirukkural to grow and promote the Tamil culture was the Rev. Dr Thani Nayagam, who was a Roman Catholic priest. "He is known as the 'Roving Ambassador for Tamil' and has been instrumental in carrying Tamil to the international arena", said Mrs Moodley. "The freedom icon of India, Mahatma Gandhi, also recoginised Thiruvalluvar as one of the greatest humanitarian leaders of India."
(YOUNG STUDENTS TAKING PART IN THE THIRUVALLUVAR CELEBRATION) Some of the writings and verses that Thiruvalluvar is remembered for, include: 1. "There is no greater wealth than Virtue, And no greater loss than to forget it."; 2. "To use bitter words, when kind words are at hand, Is like picking unripe fruit when the ripe fruit is there."; 3. "Those who are free from anger are free from death."; 4. "The wound that’s made by fire will heal, But the wound that’s made by tongue will never heal."; 5. "The gruel that children’s little hands have stirred Is sweeter than nectar."; 6. "Real kindness seeks no return; What return can the world make to rain clouds?; 7. "How can kindliness rule that man Who eateth other flesh to increase his own?"; 8. "The crow does not hide its prey, but calls for others to share it; So wealth will be with those of a like disposition." 9. "The ignorant are like useless, brackish soil; They exist and that is all."; and 10. "If men must beg to live, May the Creator also go wandering and perish." - ends (Subry Govender Feb 28 2016)

Saturday, February 27, 2016



South Africans have made vociferous calls for President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to step down from office following a report that he was not fully aware of the more than 200-million upgrades at his rural homestead of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. Zuma, who has been embroiled in allegations of corruption ever since he ousted former President Thabo Mbeki as leader of the ruling ANC and as president of the country in 2008, is once again in the middle of another corruption scandal. Despite a report by security cluster Ministers that he was not fully aware of the millions of rand upgrades at his rural Nkandla homestead – South Africans say Zuma was a liability and that he should vacate his office immediately. They say that there’s no way that Zuma would not have been aware that the upgrades had taken place at the cost of taxpapers’ money. The report by the security cluster ministers preceded a report by the Public Protector – Thuli Madonsela – that will be released in a few weeks time in the New Year. Subry Govender reports:

Friday, February 26, 2016


ZUMA and CHAOS IN PARLIAMENT INTRO: South Africa's national parliament is to appoint a special committee to investigate action against members of the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF) for causing chaos and the disruption of parliament on Thursday. The leader of the EFF - Julius Malema - and his fellow members caused chaos when they shouted and called on President Jacob Zuma to pay back millions that were spent on upgrading his Nkandla rural home. The parliamentary action follows widespread condemnation of the chaos and the failure of Zuma to fully indicate whether he will pay back millions that were not part of security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead. Subry Govender filed this report...................... .


Student Protests INTRO: Student protests in South Africa are taking on a volatile and highly violent tone. This follows clashes between black and white students at the universities of Pretoria and Free State this week. The latest violent student protests come in the wake of violent student demands for fees to be abolished late last year and at the start of the new term this year at a number of universities around the country. The North-West University has been shut down indefinitely due to the violent protests. Subry Govender reports........ .

Saturday, February 20, 2016


(RUBBISH, LITTER, WASTE, FILTH AND BIN BAGS THROWN ALONGSIDE EASTBURY DRIVE IN PHOENIX) By Subry Govender Filth, litter, rubbish and other unseemly trash have become the order of the day in many parts of residential areas inhabited by former disenfranchised citizens. This is clearly visible when one visits areas such as Tongaat, Sea Tides, La Mercy, Canelands, Waterloo and Verulam and surrounding areas on the North Coast. Residential areas such as Phoenix, Inanda, KwaMashu, Newlands, Reservoir Hills, Effingham, Cato Manor, Sydenham and Asherville are no better. The situation is just as terrible in areas such as Wentworth, Merebank, Chatsworth, Umlazi, Isipingo and other neighbouring areas. Empty bottles, bin bags, cigarette boxes, empty fast-food wrappers, and just about every kind of waste material have become an eye-sore in several areas under the jurisdiction of the Ethekwini Municipality.
PHOENIX The other day (Sunday, Feb 14) I drove through Phoenix and was disgusted at the litter and filth in the streets and rubbish and bin bags dumped in some of the streets. One particular road, Eastbury Drive, resembled a large dumping ground for waste. It seems that some residents adopt a "don't care attitude" and just throw their filth and rubbish on roads opposite their homes and are just not concerned about the environment. The same goes for some motorists and their passengers who just throw any rubbish from their vehicles onto the roads. They appear to have adopted the attitude that if the streets and the environment are not cleaned and kept tidy by the municipality and there are no "Don't Litter" and "Don't Dump" signs around, they would just contribute to the degeneration by dumping their rubbish and waste material onto the roads.
OTTAWA In neighbouring Ottawa, the filth, litter, waste material, scrap yards and trucks, and the destruction through dumping of the Ohlange River that is supposed to flow through the town, have contributed to the general degeneration of the once beautiful village. The tragedy is that while the democratically-elected Ethekwini Council has stated that it's concerned about protecting and promoting the environment, very little or nothing is done to educate the general populace about the dangers of littering and throwing waste material "here, there and everywhere". "VERULAM, A DUMP" There are no bins on streets in most of these residential areas for residents and passers-by to throw their waste material. In the main and other streets in Verulam for instance, residents say there are no toilet or water facilities for street vendors and customers. "On most days the litter and filth makes the central area of Verulam look like a dump," said Mr Anand Guraya, a local resident. "The place is degenerating fast despite efforts by the municipality to clean up on a daily basis."
NO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION He said people would continue to throw their litter and other waste material on the streets because there's very little environmental education by the municipality. "We have to plead to the municipality and the authorities to do more to protect the environment," he said. The tragedy of our new democracy is that while very little is done to keep former disenfranchised residential areas clean and tiday, former privileged areas, on the other hand, seem to enjoy all the facilities to be cleaned up at all hours. It seems that a sense of inferiority prevails in some quarters and among some councillors in the City Hall. With the local government elections around the corner, one would expect that ratepayers and taxpayers are treated equally, without any short cuts. But it seems that certain people believe they will remain in power for ever. Those in power in the municipality must understand that there will come a time (let's hope its soon) when the people will say: "We gave you a chance and you have treated us shabbily. Now do something so that all ratepayers and taxpayers, not just the privileged, are treated equally in our new democratic South Africa."

Friday, February 19, 2016


(Munien Govender and his wife, Kaniamma. Munien came from the village of Damal in Tamil Nadu at the age of eight to start a new life in South Africa in the 1880s.) (MR MUNIEN GOVENDER WITH HIS WIFE, KANIAMMA, AND THREE OF HIS DAUGHTERS. THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN IN CATO MANOR IN THE EARLY 1960S)
(The eldest son, Subramoney, with his mother, Kaniamma, and some older generation of the extended family)
(Chapany with her husband, Johnny Chetty)
(Mrs Angamma Chetty - known as Chapany to family members - while on holiday on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa) By Subry Govender Mrs Angamma Chetty (known as Chapany), who passed away in Phoenix, Durban, on Friday, February 12 at the age of 82, was a first generation South African descendant of Indian indentured labourers whose roots go back to a rural village in Tamil Nadu in India. A culturally-rich and traditionally-strong individual, she was born on February 1 1934 in the former mainly-Indian residential area of Cato Manor in Durban. The last of two surviving siblings of a large family of three brothers and six sisters, she mainly communicated with family and community members through the Tamil language. She understood a spattering of English but her Tamil mother tongue was the main medium.
(The daughters of Munien Govender with his eldest daughter-in-law, Mrs Salatchie Subramoney)
(Chapany with her mother, Kaniamma) Her father, Munien Gounder (Govender), arrived here in the former Port of Durban, which was then under the former British Natal Colony, at the age of eight in the early 1880s. He joined his auntie (name unknown) from the village of Damal in the Kanchipuram District of the former Madras Colony (now Tamil Nadu), which was also ruled by the British at that time. He and his auntie worked as indentured labourers on a sugar plantation near Durban for a period of 10 years before they moved to the Cato Manor area of Durban. Here Munien Govender's auntie married and started her own family, while the young man did odd jobs and even worked a small garden to earn a living. Munien also soon married a young woman, Kaniamma, introduced to him by his auntie. The young couple set up home in Cato Manor and over a period of time had nine children - three sons and six daughters. Mrs Angamma Chetty was the sixth born. Their other children were:
(Subramoney at work)
(Subramoney with his grand-daughter, Seshini) 1. Subramoney Munien (born 11th May 1918. He died at the age of 69 at his home in Lotusville, Verulam, on August 16 1987);
2. Muniamma Papathie Naidoo (born 15th October 1924. She died on 29th April 2012 at the age of 87 in her home in Unit 5, Chatsworth);
3. Poongavanam Bombie (Born 1st October 1928. She passed on at the age of 75 on October 27 2003 in her home in Tongaat); (With her is her eldest sister, Papathie)
4. Saragano Naidoo - number 1 in the pciture from the left - (who died at the age of 64 at her home in Phoenix);
5. Ganas (who died at the age of 75 at his sister, Chapany's home in Phoenix);
6. (Angamma Chapany Chetty);
7. Meenachie (at the back on the right) (only surviving child now, aged 76 (Born 15th July 1938);
8. George (who died at the very young age of 34 while at the Clairwood Hospital);
(Manna's husband, Moodley) 9. Pushpumma Manna Moodley (born 2nd April 1942 who died at the age of 64 on 17th March 2006 at her home in Phoenix).
Three of the elder children - Subramoney, Papathie and Bombie - moved out of Cato Manor in the early 1940s and 1950s after they married. Subramoney first moved to Isipingo with his family before settling in the village of Ottawa on the North Coast. He later moved to Lotusville in Verulam where he died on 16th August 1987. Papathie athaa, whose marriage was arranged at the tender at the age of 13, first lived with her husband at Magazine Barracks in Durban before finally moving to Unit 5, Chatsworth, after being affected by the notorious Group Areas Act. Indian, coloured and African people were forced out of Durban and suburbs such as Cato Manor which were reserved for whites-only by the former apartheid regime since the 1960s. Bombie athaa, who I was told married at the age of 16, started life at Brake Village, Tongaat, after tying the knot. She and her children later moved to a house in Tongaat town.
(Five of the Munien sisters at a family function) All the others - Saragano, Angamma, Ganas, Meenachie, Manna and the family of George were forced to move out of Cato Manor to finally settle in the Phoenix township. Manna and her family first stayed in Isipingo, then moved to Ottawa where they stayed at the former home of her eldest brother, Subramoney. Manna and her family, thereafter, moved to Phoenix. The first generation families expanded and grew over the next few decades with the eldest, Subramoney having seven children; Papathie six; Bombie 5; Saragano 5; Angamma Chapany 1; Ganas two; Meenachie 1; George two; and Manna three. Angamma (Chapany), who worked as a domestic assistant for white families near Cato Manor in her early teens, also used to join her mother to sell fruits and vegetables to white families. She later worked in a clothing factory in Durban where she met her husband, Johnny Chetty. Although the nephews and nieces of the extended family have moved to different suburbs and parts of South Africa and even to countries such as Australia and New Zealand, a large number of them turned up for the funeral of Angamma Chetty. The funeral was held at the home of her niece, Mrs Ambiga Govender, in Unit 10, Phoenix, where Angamma lived for the past 10 years.
(Munien's wife, Kaniamma, with one of her grand-children)
(One of the brothers, Ganas, with his sisters and Murugas Govender) One of her nephews, Mr Subry Govender, a veteran struggle journalist, paid the following tribute to her: "Do not shed tears when I have gone but smile instead, because I have lived. You can remember me and grieve that I have gone or you can cherish my memory and let it live on." "These appropriate words, by American author David Harkins, we are certain apply to our our Athaa, Auntie, neighbour and friend, Mrs Angamma Chetty. "Mrs Chetty - known to family members as Chapani - passed away peacefully early yesterday (Friday, Feb 12 2016) morning at the age of 82. "In the last few days she was not well and according to close family members and neighbours she knew that she would leave us soon. "Despite her failing health - our Athaa joined us at a family gathering two weeks ago and then a week ago, joined us to attend a memorial service and also visit the home of her late eldest sister's home in Unit 5 Chatsworth. "Mrs Chetty came from a large family of six sisters and three brothers - who were all born in the former Cato Manor area to parents who had direct roots to indentured sugar cane labourers. Her father, Munien Govender, came to South Africa from a rural village called Damal in the Kancipuram District of Tamil Nadu, India, at the age of eight, while her mother was born here in a sugar cane estate near Durban. "Mrs Chetty has now joined per parents, four sisters, her three brothers; husband Johnny Chetty; daughter, Rani, and six nephews and nieces who have passed on. "She is survived by her younger sister, Meenatchie Athaa; her grandson - Denzyl, grand-daughter - Leevashni; son-in-law - Stanley Govender; and scores of nephews and nieces. "We in the extended family - remember our Athaa as a person who possessed a friendly and warm personality and one who was always in a jovial mood.
(Ganas uncle with his eldest sisters, Papathie and Bombie) "She always joined us at family gatherings and during these occasions she interacted in a happy and boisterous way with both young and old. She enjoyed life to the full despite the hardships she had to face. "We are certain that now that she has left us she would say: 'I know your heart will be empty because I am no longer here, but still I want you to be full of the love and time we shared.' " "On behalf of the family, we want to say a big thank you to all family members, neighbours and friends who have come to pay their last respects to Mrs Chetty. "Finally I want to leave you with something very inspiring from the father of India's freedom, Mahatma Gandhi: 'Life and death are but phases of the same thing, the reverse and obverse of the same coin. Death is as necessary for man's growth as life itself.' "Gandhi also made this inspiring statement: 'We come into this world only once, whatever good we can do, we must do it now, because we will not pass this way again.' " ends - subry govender Feb 13 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


(Some of the extended Muniamma family members who attended the family gathering.) THE MUNIAMMA EXTENDED FAMILY GATHERING ATTRACTS MORE THAN 120 PEOPLE It was an extended family gathering to be really proud of. More than 120 descendants of indentured ancestors attended a function in Durban on Sunday (January 31) to pay tribute and respect to five elders of the family who are still alive today. The extended family members, who trace their roots to indenture-born Mrs Muniamma Gounder and Mr Coopoosamy Gounder, run into six generations today and number more than 500. They arrived from as far afield as Dundee in the KZN Midlands, Pietermaritzburg, Port Shepstone, and even Johannesburg to show their respects to the five elders.
( Mr Isaac Munsamy Govender, 94, with his youngest sister, Mrs Amoy Moodley, 80 of Chatsworth; another sister, Mrs Savundalay Padaychee, 80, of Dundee; and his sister-in-law, Mrs Soundler Govender, 80, of Chatsworth. Mrs Govender is the widow of Mr Isaac Govender's younger brother, Mr Percy Govender.)
(Mrs Panjalay Naidoo, 80, the eldest grand-child, with some of her younger sisters at the family gathering.) The elders are Mr Isaac Munsamy Govender, 94, who lives in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg; Mrs Savundalay Padaychee, 88, who stays in Dundee; Mrs Amoy Moodley, 80, who lives in Chatsworth; Mrs Soundler Govender, 80, who stays in Chatsworth; and Mrs Panjalay Naidoo, 80, who is the eldest grand-child of the extended family and who lives in Scotborough. Mr Isaac Govender, Mrs Savundalay Padaychee and Mrs Amoy Moodley were part of a large brood of 14 children - born to their first generation parents, Mrs Muniamma and Coopoosamy Govender, who worked as market gardeners in the Dayal Road area of Clairwood. Eleven of the 14 children survived to give birth to the extended family of more than 500 that is today known as the Muniamma extended family. The younger family members, who are today mainly based in Johannesburg and Durban, belong to a Muniamma Family "what's up" group to keep in contact with one another. Some of the younger generation have also migrated to Australia, New Zealand, England and Germany. (Mr Isaac Munsamy Govender, 94, with family members at the gathering. On the extreme right is Mrs Panjalay Naidoo, 80, the eldest grand-child of the Muniamma extended family.) Representatives of the different branches of the extended family also paid tribute to their elders and called for more gatherings to promote unity and pride in their greater family. One of the descendants of the extended family, Mr Subry Govender, who is a veteran journalist, has documented the arrival and early lives of his ancestors and plans to publish the family history book soon He told the family gathering, held at the Japanese Gardens in Durban North, that it was vitally important for every family member to know their roots. "We have a very rich history and it's vitally important that all of us know where we come from," he told his family members. "Our future generations must not only be proud of being South Africans, but they must also know their roots. We must be proud of our cultures, traditions and languages in our new, non-racial and democratic South Africa. "We must cherish the memories of our forefathers and mothers."