We have detected that the browser you are using is no longer supported. As a result, some content may not display correctly.
We suggest that you upgrade to the latest version of any of the following browsers:
Source: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
Title: Ndebele: Indian Experience Gala Dinner
Speech by Mr S Ndebele, Premier KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, at
the Indian Experience Gala Dinner, Southern Sun, Elangeni
His Worship, Mayor Councillor Obed Mlaba
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Logie Naidoo
Judge President Vuka Tshabalala
Indian Consul-General Harsh Vardhan Shringla
Ms Weziwe Thusi, MEC for Arts, Culture and Tourism
Mrs Ina Cronje, MEC for Education
Mr Amichand Rajbansi, MEC for Sports and Recreation
His Excellency Mr Ugo Ciarlatani, Consul of Italy
Members of the KZN Provincial Legislature
Good evening friends of KwaZulu-Natal
What I have experienced so far is a spectacular display of the
fusion of India and South Africa. The dances, food, culture and the
overall Indian Experience showcased here tonight is breathtaking. I
wish to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the Consul
General of India, Harsh Vardan Shringla and his colleagues for
their efforts in promoting and strengthening the close ties between
India and this part of South Africa.
Land of seven sisters
'The Indian Experience' which started from Tuesday, 9 November 2006
to Wednesday, 22 November 2006 highlighting the rich and vibrant
cultural heritage of North Eastern States of India is a bonus for
the people of South Africa. I had the opportunity of visiting India
recently but had not experienced the hospitality of the North
Eastern parts in places like Manipur, Assam and Tripura, among
This 'Indian Experience,' hosted by the Consul in Durban provides
an opportunity for us to see India beyond Bollywood, Delhi and Goa.
You have opened other doors of interest to us ? the North Eastern
parts of India. I looked up the North Eastern States in my
readings. The region is also known as the land of seven
The north eastern states are very different in many ways from the
other parts of India. These States have the maximum number of
tribes living within. Many tribal languages are spoken throughout
these seven states. The north eastern states have the highest
percentage of Christians. Territory wise this region is the most
sensitive region touching many countries like China, Tibet, Bhutan,
Myanmar and Bangladesh. And today we celebrate this region. It has
come to us in KwaZulu-Natal.
This is a novel way of increasing interest among the people of this
province in India and the immense cultural diversity it represents.
I have already tried some of the delicious cuisine from northeast
India and find it exquisite. I wish to thank Chef Ms Hoihnu Hoizel,
who I am told is also a journalist in India. I hope she will use
her visit to write about this part of South Africa, its people,
cuisine and scenic beauty.
I also wish to congratulate the dance troupes from the Indian
states of Assam and Manipur whose enthralling performances in
different parts of our province have been so well received. I am
told that these dances had some Zulu elements in it and I am
therefore not surprised at the reception they received from our
The master craftsmen from India, I have been told will work with
our own traditional crafters and this can only benefit the work and
appreciation of both groups of highly accomplished artisans. The
fashion show that has both Zulu and north-east Indian designs will
serve to highlight the commonality of tribal cultures and
traditions. I congratulate designer Nadia Meer, our very own
struggle stalwart Professor Fatima Meer's daughter, who put this
show together as a symbol of the closeness of our two cultures.
Allow me ladies and gentlemen to talk about our relations with
It is in this province that the overwhelming majority of Indian
South Africans live. A million people most of whose descendants
arrived here as indentured labourers. Ripped from the familiarity
of their village, quarantined in the then Calcutta and Madras;
packed into ships and landing in an alien environment only to be
dragooned onto plantations; these were the new slaves of the mid
nineteenth century. They resisted, preserved and their history
stands tall in our province.
Look around you and you will see the minarets of the Grey Street
mosque, the little Baptist Church in KwaDukuza, the Lord Shiva
standing guard over the Umgeni Road Temple and if you drive past
Blue Lagoon on a Friday afternoon people eating a mutton bunny on
the bonnet of their cars. Despite the best efforts of colonialism
and apartheid, this is a legacy that could never be erased and
never will be. The visit of the Indian Prime Minister renews a long
relationship with India.
Through trade, through cultural interchanges, through our common
vision for a more democratic global order, the knot that is
Indian-South African relations gets bound even more tightly. And
here in this province, Indian-African relations quickly overcome
the divisions and suspicion that is the legacy of apartheid.
Our communities have spilled too much blood in the struggle for
freedom, shared so much through the philosophies of Mahatma
Gandhi's Saytagraha and our own Ubuntu. To paraphrase the first
Prime Minster of India Jahwarlal Nehru, we share a common tryst
with destiny. And that notion of a common destiny was put
succinctly by President Thabo Mbeki: "Outwardly we are people of
many colours, races, cultures, languages and ancient origins. Yet
we are tied to one another by a million visible and invisible
threads. We share a common destiny from which none of us can escape
because together we are human, we are South African, we are
Building bonds, building relations
The relations between India and South Africa are historical and
traditional. Today, these relations have found a contemporary basis
in the close political, economic, cultural and social ties that the
two countries enjoy. It was apparent to me during the Prime
Minister's visit that His Excellency attached great importance to
the accelerated development of economic and commercial ties between
our two countries.
During my visit to India last year, I personally witnessed the vast
development that India has achieved in the years since its
independence. Its rapid economic growth, and positioning as an
Information Technology superpower, has transformed the global
At the same time, India has made rapid strides in agricultural
development moving from a food deficit to a food surplus nation.
During that visit we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with
Punjab on trade, economic, cultural, scientific and technical
co-operation; the ruralness of Punjab, the Land of Five Rivers,
makes for common ground in addressing the developmental challenges
of our people.
KwaZulu-Natal therefore commends Punjab for the remarkable
achievement in turning the similar plight of the rural poor into a
thriving and growing state economy that has become known as the
"food basket of India. "KwaZulu-Natal has much to offer in return.
Trade and tourism links offer great potential and need to be
exploited fully. We have a lot to gain from increasing our
engagement with India. Already, a number of KZN based companies and
entities are investing in India. South African companies from KZN
have interests in Indian roads, bridges and airports; are supplying
high technology products to the Indian market and investing in real
estate, shopping malls and tourism infrastructure. I am sure many
of our enterprising businesspersons engaged in such ventures are
among us this evening.
The Indian side has been equally focused on opportunities in the
KZN province. Indian companies have invested in hotels and tourism,
steel, automobiles and busses, tyres, cosmetics, engineering and a
wide variety of other areas that could enhance our technological
and financial base and create employment opportunities for our
skilled and semi-skilled labour.
In closing, let me thank all those of you who are here this evening
for your interest in maintaining the closest of relations between
our country and India. We hope the Consulate General of India will
continue to arrange many more such events that do so much to bring
our countries closer together at a popular level.
Issued: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
14 November 2006