South African premier lauds role of Indian Muslims in liberation

SHAFAQNA - The Premier of a coastal province in South Africa, home to over 60% of the country’s Indian population, has lauded the “massive” role Indian Muslims had in the liberation of the South African people from apartheid.

Senzo Mchunu, Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal province, praised the role of Indian Muslims and singled out South African Indian Congress leader Yusuf Dadoo, sociologist Prof Fatima Meer and her husband Ismail Meer, all now deceased, as struggle veterans who “rose above their community and embraced humanity.”

“Both the government and the (ruling) African National Congress want to be close to you because of our historical ties. Muslims were committed in the struggle for the liberation of all Africans,” he said as he recounted the views of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on the community’s role.

Speaking as the chief guest at a gathering organised by media lobby group South African Muslim Network (SAMNET), Mchunu said Mandela would consistently remind his ANC comrades about the integral part of the South African Indian Muslim leaders in the fight against the inequalities and injustices of the white-minority apartheid government.

“Those leaders stood firm with the majority (Black community) for the rights of everyone,” the Premier said. The community continued to make “massive” contributions in the development of post-apartheid South Africa in various fields, he said.

Commenting on views from SAMNET, Mchunu said they should remain undeterred by the fact that activities of the Muslim community often went unreported. “(Their contribution) remains good, whether it is reported or not,” he said.

Although about two-third of South Africa’s Indian-origin population lives in KwaZulu-Natal province, they make up nearly 10% of the total population of the province. The Indian community in South Africa has a literacy rate of 100%. Historians have written extensively about the first Indian migrants in 1860, who arrived to sugarcane farm as labourers.

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