The sprawling town of Chatsworth is a tribute to the hard-working Indian communities of South Africa.The recent nationwide celebrations marking the 150 years since the first Indian immigrants arrived on the shores of the Durban Harbour were warmly welcomed by the residents of Chatsworth, who hosted a number of the patriotic festivities.Initially set up by the apartheid government in the late 1960s, the area housed members of the Indian community who, according to the laws of the day, could not reside in the “whites only” suburbs that fell in and around the Durban region. In a move typical of the apartheid government of the day, approximately 600 Indian farmers in what is now Chatsworth had their farms seized and large numbers of Indian settlers were forced to live in the area.Approximately 600 Indian farmers had their farms seized by the government whereby Indian settlers were displaced and virtually dumped in a settlement that housed virtually no infrastructure or amenities. There is little evidence of the hardships that the original residents faced and the modern day Chatsworth now boasts an impressive 64 suburbs which all fall under the Ethekweni Municipality. In consequence, Chatsworth still features a predominantly Indian population and it is still common to hear languages such as Tamil and Telugu spoken in the area. The residents have never forgotten their roots and the area remains steeped in traditional Indian cultural history. Once deemed one of the poorest areas in the country, the residents have faced adversity and have risen to the occasion by continuing to build their community and consistently contribute to the growing intellectual capital and business environment of Durban. There has been significant property development in the area and today the region offers some truly impressive real estate.From humble beginnings to the powerhouse that the area is today, Chatsworth offers a full range of facilities and amenities to residents and visitors to the region. With numerous shopping centres offering traditional Indian wares, the Chatsworth Centre, in particular, has become a well-known landmark in the area and is well worth a visit. Housing a wealth of some of the best curry shops in the Durban region, it’s a curry lover’s paradise and with a wide range of restaurants available there is something available for every palette. The Indian community takes education very seriously and the fact that there are 18 primary and secondary establishments in the area is perhaps an indication of the real success of the area whose residents have for the past 150 years played such an important role in South Africa’s history.South Africa is blessed with a diversity of cultures that all contribute to what makes up our magnificent country one-in-a-million. Indian descendants will continue to contribute to building our nation, so let’s wait and see what the next 150 years hold.
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