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Indian South African

Indian South Africans
Total population
(1,300,000
2.7% of the South African population (2011))
Regions with significant populations
Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg, Cape Town
Languages
Tamil, Bhojpuri/Awadhi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Hindustani, Telugu, Punjabi, Vernacular African languages
Religion
Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Bahá'í, Judaism, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin, Desi

Indian South Africans are South Africans of Indian descent. The majority live in and around the city of Durban, making it 'the largest 'Indian' city outside India'. Many Indians in South Africa are descendents of migrants from colonial India (South Asia) during late 19th-century through early 20th-century. At times Indians were subsumed in the broader geographical category "Asians".

There remains a cultural, religious and racial overlap for "Asians" and "Indian South Africans". During the most intense period of segregation and apartheid, "Indian", "Asian", "Coloured", and "Malay" group identities defined where a classified person was permitted to live under the Group Areas Act.

During ideological apartheid from 1948 to 1994, Indians were called, and often voluntarily accepted, terms that ranged from "Asians" to "Indians". Some citizens believed that these terms were improvements on the negatively defined identity of "Non-White", which was their previous status. Politically conscious and nationalistic Indian South Africans wanted to show both their heritage and their local roots. Increasingly they self-identified as "African", "South African" and, when necessary, "Indian South Africans".

Nonetheless, the spread of democratic elections has sometimes heightened ethnic loyalties. Politicians and groups have looked for means to mobilise power in the competitive parliamentary democracy which South Africa has become since 1994.

A significant proportion of slaves imported into the Cape were from parts of India including Bangladesh . Note that these slaves were only from Goa, Kerala and Bengal and were likely to have been sold to Dutch traders by Muslim rulers such as Mughals at the time.The Dutch in particular had good trade relations with Muslim rulers in India during the 1600s. Many slaves had no identity as Indians and were conveniently classified by the Dutch in the Cape as part of "Cape Coloured" and Cape Malay communities. White Afrikaners also may have some Indian slave ancestry, an example of this being former State President F.W. de Klerk, who revealed in his autobiography that one of his ancestors was a female slave called Diana of Bengal. There is no reference to the real names of these Indians and were given "Christian" names for convenience. This all contributed to the loss of identity similar to the Mozambicans and other slaves who were brought to the Cape.


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