Natals Indians and SA War 1899-1902
Until recently there was a virtual exclusion of Black peoples from histories of the South African War which began on 11 October 1899 when the South African Republic and the Orange Free State declared war on Great Britain. The traditional historiography has focused primarily on the actions and sufferings of the white protagonists, both Boer and British.1 This is not surprising given that the focus by early scholars was almost entirely on the struggle between Afrikaner nationalism and British imperialism in which the role of Blacks was seen as irrelevant. The war, however, impacted heavily on all South Africans. By focusing on Indians, a little-studied group, this micro-study will contribute to the process of providing a more complete picture of the war years. As far as Indians are concerned a number of questions are raised. Why did Indians, who were subject to oppression by English-speaking whites, volunteer on the side of Britain? In what active and non-combatant roles did Indians participate in the war? How were they affected in the theatres of war? What losses did they suffer? Where did Indian refugees flee to and who provided for them? What was the impact of the Indian role to the overall situation?