The opportunity to live and study in South Africa is the opportunity of a lifetime. South Africa has so much to offer, and there are strong historical linkages between India and South Africa.
South Africa is a multilingual and ethnically diverse country, and so there is no single South African Culture. South Africa’s population is made up of people whose ancestors came from the East, from Africa and from Europe. It reflects a past of colonialism, first nation peoples, slavery, fortune seekers, and runaways.
English is generally understood across the country, it is the language of business, politics and the media, and the country’s lingua franca. But it ranks only joint fifth out of the 11 official languages as a home language. South African English is littered with picturesque words and phrases from Afrikaans, Zulu, Nama and other African languages.
Weather and climate
South Africa’s climatic conditions generally range from the Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of South Africa, to temperate conditions in the interior plateau, and subtropical weather in the northeast. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights. Rainfall generally occurs during summer (November through March) in the inland regions. In the Mediterranean zone, around Cape Town, rainfall occurs in winter (June to August).
The waters of the eastern and southern coastal areas are warm from the Agulhas Ocean current, which sweeps southward along the Indian Ocean coastline. The cold Benguela current, sweeps northward along the Atlantic Ocean coastline and results in chilly waters on the western side.
India and South Africa
Students from India will immediately find themselves at home in South Africa. The bonds between India and South Africa go back centuries. We share a common history in the fight against domination and oppression.
The British brought Indian indentured labourers to South Africa to work on sugarcane plantations in Natal in 1860. The majority of Indians came from the East of India, the Malabar Coast, and the Coromandel Coast. Most people of Indian origin in South Africa are descended from these early workers.
South Africa has the largest Indian diaspora on the African continent, numbering almost 1,5 million persons. A majority live in or around Durban on the east coast. New generation Indian South-Africans speak English as their first language. Indian South Africans preserve their cultural heritage, languages and religious beliefs, being either Christian, Hindu or Muslim and speaking English, with Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil or Gujarati being spoken less frequently as second languages.
South African Indians played a significant role in the anti-apartheid struggle continue to do so across the political spectrum.
Mohandas Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa, and it was in this country that he made his historic train journey in June 1893 from Pietermaritzburg to Pretoria. Gandhi had purchased a first-class ticket and was seated in a first-class compartment. A White person took offence and called the railway officials who ordered Gandhi to get out. Gandhi produced his ticket and refused to comply with the order. A White police officer manhandled him out of the train, and his luggage was tossed out on to the platform. Regenesys students will be able visit Satyagraha House in Orchards, Johannesburg, where the future Mahatma created and developed Satyagraha, his philosophy of passive resistance, arising from that experience on a train. This contribution would go on to have major consequences for South Africa, India and the World.
The more adventurous will want to go to Durban to see the Sarvodaya House on the Phoenix heritage site, built in 1904 for Gandhi and his family. The printing press on which the first Indian newspaper in South Africa was printed is still there. The paper started in 1903 and was continually printed until 1961. The Phoenix settlement has played a critical part in promoting peace, justice and equality in both the spiritual and political contexts. Gandhi’s three room house with a portico has been rebuilt and is now a museum. While Gandhi moved on to Johannesburg it was his son Manilal who stayed on and edited the “Indian Opinion” for 36 years until his death. The settlement was reopened in 2000 and is now home to about 20,000 people known as the “Bambayi” community.
Indian visitors will feel thoroughly at home in Durban. Temples and mosques dot Durban’s cityscape and are known for their architecture and rich heritage. The Umgeni Road Temple Complex dating back to 1883 is the oldest and largest temple complex in South Africa. The central shrine and architecture of the complex which provides for all traditional forms of Hinduism have been built on the lines of the temple architecture of South India. Islamic, Victorian and North Indian influences are visible in the architecture of the Durban Hindu Temple in Somtseu Road.
The Juma Masjid on Grey Street with a floor area of 975 square meters and a capacity of 4,500 worshippers is the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. Riverside Soofie Mosque and Mausoleum, located on the banks of the Umgeni River is a national monument.
Durban abounds with excellent Indian restaurants serving cuisine representative of the Indian sub-continent.