Centenary of Indians in South Africa : a record of a hundred years of Indian progress in various spheres of activity . 1960
(The pathetic and unreliable Zulu labour conditions which existed in the Colony of Natal and the planters' desperate demand for Indian indentured labourers is graphically described in this article) After Natal was annexed as a British Colony in 1843 it was found to he nothing hut a "beautiful luxuriant waste" hardly yielding a product which could he turned into commercial profit. The small group of settlers were looking for a crop which would bring them prosperity. Little was known of the region.
The British officials had only a vague idea, both of the area they were to govern and of the number of White people who were subject to them. Britain was not interested in undertaking any official scheme of colonising the territory because of the burden on the Imperial treasury. It was, therefore, left to the people of England to go to Natal if they so wished.
The great mass of emigrants consisted of townsfolk.
Very few were farmers or farm labourers.
There were some tradesmen. Many were of industrious habits, keen and eager to improve their condition.
To all these people, Natal offered an opportunity of earning a prosperous livelihood. In addition to these emigrants, about 1,500 arrived on their own from the Cape, Germany and the United Kingdom. About fifty people came from Mauritius to survey "the prospects of planting north and south of Durban." The first census of Durban in 1852- eight years before the advent of Indians-showed a European population of 7,500. Of these, 4,500 had arrived in the three preceding years.
The early believed that prosperity lay in cotton, but after Edmund Morewood made successful experiments in cane cultivation, the planters turned to sugar. The actua'l beginning of the sugar industry was in 1847 when Henry and Tom Milner arrived from Mauritius with some seed cane.
From this, Edmund Morewood of "Compensation", started the first plantation to become the "father" of the Natal sugar industry. He erected a mill in 1850 and commenced crushing. Others soon follo',Ved his example and small cattle-driven rrl.ills began to\spring ~ up along the coast, particularly at Isipingo.