Pretoria: South Africa has launched a series of postage stamps commemorating the arrival of Indian labourers to the country 150 years ago, state-run news agency BuaNews reported.
Two stamps were launched Monday by the Department of Communications and the South African Post Office in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture. A further two stamps will be launched next year.
One stamp features a sketch of the SS Truro ship, while the second features sugarcane cutters.
The stamps serve as a poignant reminder of the extreme hardship and endurance of the Indian labourers, the news agency said.
During the British colonial era, the South African government recruited Indian labourers to work in sugar plantations in Natal.
The Truro ship left Madras and reached Port Natal Nov 16, 1860. The Belvedere ship left Calcutta and arrived at Port Natal Nov 26 1860, while the Umlazi ship arrived in 1911.
Two memorial peace slabs bearing the names of resistance icons like John Langalibalele Dube, Ahmed Timol, Shanti Naidoo, Kader Asmal and Walter and Albertina Sisulu were also unveiled.
Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie said the slabs were a tribute “to the sacrifices of the Indian labourers and liberation fighters and their immense contribution in building a democratic South Africa we have today”.
He appreciated the ‘warmth’ shown by the indigenous African people towards the Indian labourers who stayed on in South Africa and made the country their home for many generations.
Throughout the years, the Indian community has made significant contributions to the cultural, social and political life of South Africa, adding to the country’s diverse cultures, he said.
The ceremony was attended by Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and Consul-General of India in Durban, Anil Sharan.
According to South African government statistics, people of Indian or Asian origin comprise around 2.5 per cent of the population, with a rough estimate of 1,275,000 in 2011.