Girmitya tales : an odyssey
The British settlers’ (c1840s) saw sugar as a viable export commodity but there was a serious shortage of labour. The fate of the colony “hangs on a thread, the thread is labour (Natal Mercury, April 1859).
The Zulus were not accustomed to selling their labour, tilling the soil was women’s work, while the men hunted and protected their villages.
With the abolishment of slavery, the “Indenture(d) System”, a compromise between slavery and the free-market system, was invented. The Natal planters petitioned for the introduction of Indian labour. Thousands of indentured Indians from India emigrated to Natal to escape the poverty, disease, famine, caste system, family problems and some came for the mere