What Gandhi Didn't See

Author: z.p. dala

From 1684 till the present, the Indian diaspora in South Africa has had a long history. But in the country of their origin, they remain synonymous with three points of identity: indenture, apartheid and Mahatma Gandhi.

In this series of essays, Zainab Priya Dala deftly lifts the veil on some of the many other facets of South African Indians, starting with the question: How relevant is Gandhi to them today?
It is a question Dala answers with searing honesty, just as she tackles the questions of the ‘new racism’—between Black Africans and Indians—and the ‘new apartheid’—money; the tussle between the ‘canefields’ where she grew up, and the ‘Casbah’, or the glittering town of Durban; and what the changing patterns in the names the Indian community chooses to adopt reflect.
In writing that is fluid, incisive and sensitive, she explores the new democratic South Africa that took birth long after Gandhi returned to the subcontinent, and the fight against apartheid was fought and won.

In this new ‘Rainbow Nation’, the people of Indian origin are striving to keep their ties to Indian culture whilst building a stronger South African identity. Zainab Priya Dala describes some of the scenarios that result from this dichotomy.

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Original Language

ENGLISH (Indian Sub.) | Speaking Tiger


‘Written with passion, this book is a beautiful and sincere account of the resilience and strength with which [indentured workers] overcame their terrible conditions…and the suffering and scars that people still have to live with.’—Ela Gandhi

‘In these pages biography and history collide and collaborate to make for a compelling and visceral examination of what it might mean to be Indian in Africa.’—Ashwin Desai, co-author of Inside Indenture: A South African Story, 1860-1914

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