A visit to Mahatma Gandhi‘s museum at Mani Bhavan House on day 1 of my visit in Mumbai revealed just how intricately linked South Africa and India’s histories are, dating back to the 19th century. Gandhi took the resolve to fight against racial injustice using non-violent means in South Africa during the early part of his 21-year stay that started in 1893. This was followed by instigation of several Indian protest marches and his repeated time in jail, before he went back to India in 1914.
On a separate but proud note, South Africa produced 2 of the world-renowned leaders who espoused the social justice cause in 2 consecutive centuries – Gandhi (19th century) and Mandela (20th century). In their recognition, both leaders’ faces appear on the respective national currency notes.
To emphasize the shared history between the 2 countries, Durban city has the largest Indian community outside of India. The explanation for this phenomenon lies in the shipping of migrant labourers from India in the 19th century, who worked on the sugarcane farms in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province that was then a British colony. Read more about this history under the topic Indian Indenture system.