An ode to Chatsworth
HANA Cape Town formerly from Chatsworth
I AM blinded by worry, I sit, praying, crying, having sleepless nights because my heart, my heartbeats, and my soul is in Chatsworth protecting my community, my family, and our own. In my eyes, heroes don’t wear capes. They are the men and women of my community, true heroes. Chatsworth was built in 1860, as a bulwark between the white community and the black community. And succinctly so, we became the target of looting and shooting. Indians were brought to South Africa from India to work the sugar cane fields. However, because of our resilient nature, and our inborn ability to survive, to grow, to build, and to create, we built homes, schools, universities, and businesses. From humble beginnings, we worked hard for every thing we have. Nobody gave us free handouts, free homes, free electricity… every single thing we own is by sheer hard work and drive. Yes, our forefathers came as sugar cane labourers and they built a community of Indians with a similar backbone, resilience and intelligence. Something we, as Indians, are proud of. The 1940 riots robbed us of everything, and again in the 1970s and yet again today. Yes, you have looted and burnt but we will be back, because that’s who we are. That is what we are. We will be back again and again and again. I have never felt more helpless. How do I eat when my community has no bread, milk or baby food? How do I sleep when the men and women of my community are awake every night for a week protecting the community? How? Indians in Chatsworth had to leave their homes to seek work in other cities to provide for their families. We do not abandon our own. Our parents sent us to study, selling their jewellery, cashing in their policies and taking out loans. We did not beg for handouts. We are a proud group of people. We pride ourselves on our honesty, our integrity, our selflessness, our ability to work menial jobs, our ability to bounce back. And that we will. Our parents taught us gratitude, the power of prayer, to be humble, to be honest, and to be proud Indians. We, as Indians of Chatsworth, pride ourselves on this ethos no matter where in the world we live. We respect and believe in the spirit of ubuntu. As a friend so succinctly said “what a year this week has been”. We will rebuild. We will grow again stronger and more resilient as a community. Because you taught us one thing – we stand united. And always will. My Chatsworth, my home, my heroes, I salute you.