About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Archives Groups/South African History Archives Collections: Individual Entries

AL2421 Natal Indian Congress

Papers; 1971-1990; 10 boxes; inventory available

Brief historical background

The Natal Indian Congress (NIC) was formed in 1894 by Mahatma Gandhi to fight discrimination against Indian traders in Natal. The NIC, Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) and the Cape Indian Congress went on to form the South African Indian Congress (SAIC). Thereafter, many joint activities between the SAIC and African National Congress (ANC) were organised. During the 1950s and 1960s, several of the NIC leadership were jailed. Although the NIC itself was not banned, this harassment of its leadership and the repressive conditions at that time, led to a halt in the activities of the NIC. It was only in 1971 that the NIC was revived. The main focus at this stage was on civic work.

In the 1980s the most striking of the campaigns embarked on by NIC were the Anti-South African Indian Council campaign of 1981 and the Anti-Tricameral Parliament Campaign against the establishment of the House of Delegates in 1984. The NIC was also a founding member of the United Democratic Front (UDF), and remained an affiliate until the disbandment of the UDF. After the ANC was unbanned in 1990, the NIC together with the TIC, had various meetings with the ANC to strategise on the role of the two Indian Congresses. Both were subsequently disbanded.

Notes on the collectionThis collection is not the official NIC collection, but was donated to SAHA by the Centre for Community and Labour Studies (CCLS) in Durban. Included in this collection are the constitution, minutes, correspondence, speeches and conference papers since the revival of the NIC in 1971 (with a few items before this date). It also includes records from the Anti-South African Indian Council (1981) and Anti-Tricameral Parliament (1984) campaigns; documents from various civic and welfare organisations that were active in the Indian community in Natal; and UDF, Congress of South African Trade Unions and Inkatha documents on violence and the peace process in Natal. Some of the material given to us by CCLS has been separated from this collection as it was clear that it constituted a separate archive: that of the South African Tin Workers' Union (AL 2420).

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