INDIAN PRIME MINISTER ACKNOWLEDGES VETERAN STRUGGLE STALWARTS AND INDENTURED INDIAN LABOURERS
(PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI OF INDIA HOLDING THE HANDS OF VETERAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS, KAY MOONSAMY(LEFT) AND SWAMINATHAN GOUNDEN (RIGHT). ON THE RIGHT IS THE PREMIER OF THE PROVINCE, MR WILLIS MCHUNCU)By Subry Govender
Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, greeted and paid tribute to two veteran struggle stalwarts who attended a reception organised in his honour at the Durban City Hall on the afternoon of Saturday, July 9.
(PRIME MINISTER MODI TALKING TO MR KAY MOONSAMY)
Mr Modi walked up to 90-year-old Kay Moonsamy and 89-year-old Swaminathan Gounden and shook their hands at the end of the function organised by the Ethekwini Municipality.
(PRIME MINISTER MODI TALKING TO SWAMINATHAN GOUNDEN)
Moonsamy and Gounden were earlier introduced by the programme director, Mr Ravi Pillay, MEC, as two freedom fighters who participated in the Passive Resistance Campaign in 1946 while they were still in their early teens.
The two veterans later joined the Natal Indian Congress(NIC), the South African Communist Party(SACP), the ANC, and other organisations that fought for the non-racial democracy and freedom that South Africans enjoy today.
For their efforts, they were among the thousands of activists who were banned, detained, house-arrested, jailed and forced into exile by the former apartheid regime.
(PRIME MINISTER MODI WITH PREMIER WILLIS MCHUNU AND MR KAY MOONSAMY AND SWAMINATHAN GOUNDEN)Mr Modi had also on Friday acknowledged the contributions of Mr Ahmed Kathrada and other freedom fighters at a function at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
Before his address to the invited guests at the Durban City Hall, Mr Modi visited the Pietermaritzburg Railway Station where Mahatma Gandhi was thrown of a train for sitting in a “whites-only” coach. He also visited the Mahatma Gandhi Phoenix Settlement in Inanda, north of Durban.
(MR KAY MOONSAMY AND MR SWAMINATHAN GOUNDEN AFTER PRIME MINISTER MODI GREETED AND ACKNOWLEDGED THEM)
During his address to the people at the City Hall, he surprised most of those present by offering the greeting of not only “Namasthe”, but also “Vanakkam” and “Sanibonani”.
He also recognised and acknowledged the first Indians who were brought to work as indentured labourers or “slaves” on the sugar plantations of the then Natal Colony in 1860.
“It was here in 1860 that the first Indians landed in South Africa. On 16th November 1860 the ship Truro touched the shores of KwaZulu-Natal with 342 Indians. I learnt that the first people to get down the ship were Ngaru, his wife and two small daughters. Today, more than 150 years later, Durban has the largest concentration of people of Indian origin outside India.
“Their suffering under apartheid and colonial rule is well known. But against all odds they preserved their culture and values. And today they are very successful and proud citizens of this great country.”
(SOME OF THE INVITED GUESTS)
(MORE GUESTS AT THE FUNCTION)
Modi said they were contributing to their country in the fields education, scientific research, judiciary and the economy. . They did not live for themselves only but contributed enormously to the welfare of the poor and under-privileged.
This reference to the indentured Indians came as a surprise to many people because the impression was created that Modi or the Indian Government did not recognise or care about those who left their motherland to start a new life in the then Natal Colony as indentured labourers.
For instance no efforts were made for Modi to visit one of the sugar estates where the indentured labourers had started their new lives in South Africa.
(GUESTS WELCOMING PRIME MINISTER MODI BY TAKING PICTURES)
(Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province, Mr Willis Mchunu, standing next to Swaminathan Gounden and Prime Minister Modi)
Earlier, the Premier of the KZN province, Mr Willis Mchunu, in his address welcoming Modi to KwaZulu-Natal, paid tribute to the people of Indian origin for their enormous contributions to the development of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa as a whole.
He said the people of Indian descent had made enormous contributions to the social, political, economic, educational and other fields of development.
He said the people of Indian origin “are part of all of us and this country belongs to them”.
He said he hoped when Modi returned to India he would have returned with very good memories of the country.
(KING GOODWILL ZWELITHINI PRESENTING A GIFT TO INDIAN PRIME MINISTER, NARENDRA MODI)
King Goodwill Zwelithini, who also welcomed Modi to the province, encouraged the Indian Prime Minister to assist in the further development of the province, especially in the fields of agriculture and over-coming the HIV-AIDs pandemic.
As a final gesture, the King presented Modi with a gift.
(Some of the invited guests lining up and security checked before being allowed into the Durban City Hall)