Initially, the demand for agricultural labour in KwaZulu-Natal saw the first indentured Indians arrive in the province over 150 years ago. Since then, Indian settlers have formed an integral part of building the South Africa that we live in today. According to studies that have been conducted Dr Renu Modi – a Director of African studies at the University of Mumbai in India, South Africa boasts the largest concentration of Indian descendants outside the Asian-subcontinent.
Established in 1976, the innate sense of community that is alive and well in this colourful district has garnered great comfort to those who call Phoenix home. The town comes alive at certain times of the year with the celebration of Christmas, Diwali and Eid when residents embrace South Africa’s cultural diversity and share in each others celebrations. It is a tight-knit community and if you have grown up in Phoenix, the likelihood that your neighbours have changed in the past decades is pretty slim.
Many of the tiny semi-detached properties that were built in the area under the previous government have been transformed into magnificent structures by their current owners. The area boasts a number of schools, sports grounds, libraries and public swimming pools and is well established, with shopping centre facilities and places of worship across all religious denominations.
In 1903 Mahatma Ghandi started a newspaper called The Indian Opinion, which was eventually printed in a building within the Phoenix Settlement, a suburb that he helped establish in 1904. The Settlement in which the Ghandi family lived for some years was badly damaged in the Inanda Riots in 1985 and was taken over by informal settlers. The Phoenix Settlement Trust is presently promoting the reconstruction and development of the Settlement and a number of the historic buildings have already been restored.
According to recent property reports the area continues to be a popular choice with first-time buyers due to the general affordability of property in the area. Entry level and middle income earners have increased the demand for more affordable properties and the area has a good mix of real estate across all price categories. Overall, the demand for housing in the area continues to attract property purchasers and investors. Vast tracts of council-owned land have been earmarked for residential development with applications to build flooding in.
Phoenix hosts a major commercial and industrial area and one of the larger powerhouses, SAB Miller, produces beers and some beverages sold by the Coca Cola Franchise. As the old saying goes – there’s no place like home: with fine home cooked Indian cuisine, beer on the doorstep and good neighbourhood spirit, Phoenix has all the makings of life on Wisteria Lane.