May 7, 2021 2:13:58 pm
A book tracing the anti-apartheid activism of Mahatma Gandhi’s close aide in South Africa Thambi Naidoo and four generations of his family starting from the early 1900s has been launched here. The book titled ‘Thambi Naidoo and Family: Struggle for a Non-racial South Africa’ details the story of four generations of the Naidoo family. Naidoo was often referred to as one of Gandhi’s lieutenants’.
“In fact, my grandfather went to jail even more times than Mahatma Gandhi during the days of the Passive Resistance movement in South Africa, Naidoo’s grandson Prema Naidoo told PTI after the launch of the book.
“It was my grandfather who brought the working class into the fold of the Gandhi-led opposition to the discriminatory laws of the time. In fact, Gandhi himself would later acknowledge Thambi Naidoo as one of the most important figures in the history of the Satyagraha Campaign in South Africa.
“My grandfather was so committed to the Gandhian cause that he even sent my father Naran and my three uncles to the ashram that he established when he went back to India. After one of them died there, the others returned to South Africa to continue the struggle, Prema said.
Naidoo, who had arrived in South Africa from Mauritius at the age of 14 in 1889, instilled in his entire family a passion for assisting the oppressed and resisting discrimination, Prema said.
While Prema continued the fight against apartheid in South Africa, his sisters Ramnie and Shanti went into exile to continue the struggle from the UK. Another brother, Indres, went into exile in Mozambique.
All of them returned at the dawn of democracy in the early 1990s after Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years as a political prisoner to become the first democratically-elected president of South Africa.
Prema recalled how the family had supported Mandela and many others as they evaded the apartheid-era security police of the time.
“Mandela was very fond of my mother’s crab curry,” he recalled.
“We also assisted Winnie Mandela’s daughters by getting them registered at a local Coloured’ school, but after persecution by the authorities they were forced to go to school in Swaziland, he added. Prema’s son Kuben, who often joined his father in the opposition to apartheid as a young child, is the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa.
These and many other stories spanning the four generations of the Naidoo family seeped in the anti-apartheid struggle are contained in the book. “Through the story of the Naidoo family, we get an enriched understanding of how generations contributed to the ending of apartheid and the rebuilding of South Africa, veteran activist and former minister Mac Maharaj wrote in his introduction.
“This book by Ismail Vadi is indicative of the type of history that needs to be written in South Africa. Work that locates the contributions of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to bring down an unjust system, Maharaj added. Vadi said that the book was a history of determined and successive generational opposition to racism, segregation and discrimination, and steely resistance to apartheid by four generations from 1889 to today.
“They have traversed the path of passive resistance, armed struggle and democracy. It is a narrative of self- sacrifice, perseverance, emotional agony and material losses to four generations of the family. In each generation, some or other member of the family was either detained, tortured, imprisoned, jailed, banned or forced into exile, Vadi said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.