Coming from KwaZulu Natal I knew of earlier movements in the Indian Diaspora. In South Africa the major part of the Indian community arrived between 1860 and 1911 as indentured farm labour. They served as field hands and mill operatives in the sugar plantations and other agricultural sectors of Natal (now called KwaZulu Natal). Most of the initial migrants were drawn from what is today Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh with some from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (Ref. High Commission of India to South Africa).
A second movement of Indians came after 1880. They were nicknamed the “passenger Indians” because they paid their fares as passengers on board steamships bound for South Africa.
But what I’ve picked up chatting to members of my church is that there is a third smaller movement happening now of professionals, especially teachers and doctors, from Kerala in the south of India. They maintain a strong sense of connection to other families throughout South Africa who belong to the same Indian church denomination, for example, the Mar Thoma church. In fact, the Mar Thoma church has two priests based in South Africa whose job it is to travel around visiting their people scattered as they are in various places. (They spend three years here and then move back to India, to be replaced by the next priest.)
Sorry if this background bores you! The point is that I was blind to this recent Indian Diaspora until I met someone from it… Now that I know what to look for I see evidence of it everywhere. What else am I not seeing because I don’t know to look for it?
Some other blogs on Immigration and Diaspora Issues…
- Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – Being the Flag
- Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – Together We Can Make Dreams Come True
- Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – Immigration Stories
- Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity – Is Xenophobia Ever Christlike?
- Steve Hayes at Khanya – Christians and the Immigration Issue
- Ellen Haroutunian - Give Me Your Tired …
- Bethany Stedman – Choosing Love Instead of Fear
- Pete Houston at Peter’s Progress – Of Rape and Refuge
- Joshua Seek – Loving Our Immigrant Brother
- Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – Christians and Immigration
- Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – You’re Right