Narendh Ganesh

The Indian Community of South Africa are South Africans – no more, no less.

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(This is not meant in any racial intonation except to champion South Africa as a land that must embrace its diversity against those who desperately desire to entrench it)

When scantily clad, impoverished and waif-like citizens of the world across the big pond embarked on their tortuous journey to these shores over a hundred and fifty years ago, they left in the great hope of opportunity, of safety and security, and of unbridled dreams.

They got very little of that, if any.

Indeed, what they really got was bondage and slavery, suffering and heartache, torture and pain.

There was no land of the milk and the honey that awaited them - but instead of that being a deterrent, it became a spur and a root of survival.

While the spirits may have been low and the heads drooped - their strength of resolve and determination never faltered.

Looked at as sub-human, treated as non-entities and classified as such, their resilience against every odd drove their abiding spirit to heights beyond imagination.

And so it was that the "Indian" citizen of South Africa cemented his citizenry in a wilful pledge to humanity that he was here to stay.

Being relegated to second-class citizens as with millions of others, the Indian citizen became part of a colourful tapestry of people that endured the worst of the worst from men and women who prided themselves in superiority, bigotry and grandeur - but who were no different in human terms.

Yet, as we hurtle into a world far, far different from that of yesteryear, how much has changed?

What was meant to be freedom and opportunity has become an unwritten bondage and subservience to the very men and women who cajoled the Indian citizen into believing that "this land is your land, this land is my land".

Rights bestowed upon every citizen of this land has become tainted with privilege for some - yet again.

As a community of people classified in terms of race - still, the Indian citizen is considered an interloper by some - still.

A facade or masquerade of an equal society has become an embellishment today that defiles common humanity and brotherhood, only because the success of the Indian citizen is seen as a contemptuous usurping of the rights and privileges of fellow citizens.

The Indian citizen, once imported as a commodity, is now being readied for export as an inconvenience.

This is the tragedy of South Africa today - where human harmony has transcended into human division - where patriotism is no longer a common bond - where race matters!

While the country degenerates at break-neck speed, we should all remember, every single one of us - that we are all equal citizens of a once unequal land and that we share a citizenry without prejudice and without favour.

The clarion call is simple as it is loud - the Indian citizen of South Africa is a citizen like every other, seeking the same purpose as everyone else and cannot - must not - and should not be treated otherwise.

South Africa, in a new democratic order, is a bespoken land for all of us - Indian and all.

Narendh Ganesh

Narendh Ganesh is the chairperson of the Duffs Road Civic Association in north Durban, community activist and former member of the Minorities of South Africa party

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