South Africa’s transition to democracy, serves as an exemplar to the rest of the world, and its society today is well known as the ‘rainbow nation’. Inherent to the latter is a rich mix of culture and traditions comprising both indigenous peoples and a diverse diaspora from across many parts of the world.
There are many untold stories of those who ventured into South Africa, and who today comprise an essential component of its rich cultural fabric. The history of the Clairwood community is one such story. First established, just more than 135 years ago during a period of colonial rule, Clairwood represented the historic nucleus of the South African Indians who arrived on our shores as an immigrant labour force.
The objective of writing this book was to trace the lives of the indentured Indian labourer who after completing his servitude on the Natal sugar cane plantations in 1880, settled and with an innate resilience developed a mosquito infested swamp close to Durban Bay into a thriving bustling garden suburb of 40 000 residents. This was achieved, in the main, without the assistance of the local authorities. The synergy that galvanised the seamless and multi-layered community contributed to a range of community- built and managed services ranging from dozens of schools, temples, churches, mosques, and sports fields, to a thriving private transport system, and even crematoria.
From this first generation of semi-slaves, Clairwood is proud to have produced several judges (one an internationally recognised jurist), politicians who were involved in the national struggle for freedom, professors, musicians, sportsmen, and eminent leaders in the field of commerce, industry, education and medicine. An outstanding quality was the selflessness of the leaders and the spirit of camaraderie that went beyond religion or race.
Clairwood is a unique example of how the present day South African communities can model themselves. Its history provides an important lesson for all of South Africa in the modern era. This book demonstrates how social cohesion and perseverance in the face of hardship are critical elements to success, as opposed to a culture of entitlement. “Clairwood: an untold story” should be read by everyone including leaders who seek to develop better self-supporting communities.
Author: Dr Juggie Pather (PhD): This Book is a labour of Love