REMEMBERING the struggles of indentured Indian labourers and marking the 160th anniversary of their arrival in South Africa in 1860, the Sivananda World Peace Foundation held a commemoration event in Richards Bay on Monday promoting unity and inclusivity of all communities and ethnic groups.
Led by founder and philanthropist Professor Ishwar Ramlutchman, the gathering took place at the Zululand Yacht Club with support and participation from local non-profit organisations, schools and other groups.
The occasion created a platform for members of all walks of life and different sectors of society to unite and reflect on the pain and suffering of the indentured labourers in their quest to seek better opportunities.
It highlighted the significance of 16 November 1860 when the ship SS Truro docked in Durban and more than 300 men, women and children stepped onto African soil to forever make this their home.Ramlutchman said the arrival 160 years ago produced heroes and added diversity to the country.‘We have seen those Indians brought in as slaves in the sugar plantations, toil their way out of misery and excel in different fields.
‘Like many of us, these stalwarts of the struggle for justice and peace were inspired by the extraordinary Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.‘We as a society have a responsibility to promote unity and inclusiveness of all people regardless of race or religion. We are South Africans first and must build each other up and never forget where we came from,’ said Ramlutchman.
‘We must strive to ensure future generations benefit from all our efforts. ‘Promoting social cohesion and uniting communities remain a top priority and we must refuse to see colour or race, but only people as members of the human race.
‘It is indeed heartwarming and reassuring to see different communities join in the commemoration event and share in the heritage and history lesson that this significant occasion marked.‘As we also continue to champion awareness against gender-based violence and look ahead to the 16 Days of Activism campaign coming up next week, we have to all participate in the fight to end these injustices and abuse.
KZN Legislature representative, Celiwe Madlope, commended Ramlutchman for his efforts to bring communities together and encouraged citizens to continue working together in the spirit of humanity and never to allow the bitter past to rear its head.‘While we come from different faiths or belief systems, we can all work together and show love and respect for each other,’ she said.