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'Indian affiliation is OK but you are S African first'

South African Indians should first consider themselves as citizens of the country despite having religious and cultural affiliation to the land of their forefathers, veteran African National Congress activist and Pravasi Samman recipient Ahmed Kathrada said.

world Updated: Mar 30, 2010 07:53 IST

South African Indians should first consider themselves as citizens of the country despite having religious and cultural affiliation to the land of their forefathers, veteran African National Congress activist and Pravasi Samman recipient Ahmed Kathrada said.

"We are South African first. We may have religious and cultural ties with India, but we are South African first," Kathrada said while the 10th annual conference of the Global Organisation for People of Indian Origin in Durban.

"That is not debatable at all. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru told South African Indians long ago to throw in their lot with the majority people of the country," Kathrada added.

"South African immigration from India was regulated in 1913, so Indians in South Africa became more and more South African. 99.9 per cent of South African Indians today are born in South Africa. There have been some coming in after democracy, but almost 100 per cent are born in South Africa with allegiance to the South African government and the South African flag."

Kathrada said that South African Indians have made huge strides in every field of human endeavour, especially after the first democratic elections in 1994.

"Indians have continued to make their contribution toward a single South African nation, but all the gains that we have made in the vocational field pales into insignificance if we have been deprived of our humanity and our dignity.

"The most important gain that we have made is that we have restored our humanity and dignity. That is much more important than anything else that we can achieve. We have won our humanity and dignity and we can walk tall in one South Africa under one national flag."