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Gandhi

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South Africans of Indian descent mirror the vast cultural diversity that India has to offer. It is marked by numerous religious beliefs, tribes and languages. Entering a country already occupied by European colonists and characterised with a great sense of racist behaviour, typical for this period, these people were exposed to oppressions and discriminative treatment. This essay will outline the major facts concerning Indian immigration into South Africa, including the issue of diversity and the struggles these people were forced to live with in their host country as described in Mahatma Gandhi’s memoir. From approximately 1960 onwards, South Africa’s Indian community mainly consisted of two groups: indentured labourers who were contracted in their home country to work on sugar plantations in Natal and Indian traders who arrived on their own expenses. For that reason, vast numbers of Indians were imported to the host country South Africa in order to work as cheap labourers. Even though slavery had been banned in 1833, their living conditions are described as a type of “semi-slavery”. In addition, they were bound to an immensely high tax in case they refused to renew their contracts. However, due to the fact that the Indian government deprived its people from information, increasing numbers of Indians entered South Africa. In contrary to the earliest Indian slaves who were brought to the country before 1960, they were not able to preserve their Indian heritage because of interracial marriages with fellow slaves from East Asia or Africa. It was not until the second generation of Indian immigrants arrived that their languages and provincial Indian customs were imported to South Africa. They were forced to live in special city quarters, separated from the white colonisers where they could keep up their rituals and speak their mother language.
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