Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Anyone familiar with my home province, KwaZulu-Natal, will know that relations between Zulus and Indians are not exactly rosy. Indeed, while involved in student governance at the University of Natal in Durban it often struck me that there was more antagonism between these two groups than there was between whites and either blacks or Indians. I often found Indian students to be far more overtly racist than their white colleagues and, during protests in the 90s, Indians were usually one of the prime targets of 'rolling mass action', SASCO's (a student off-shoot of the ANC) preferred term for general mayhem. When South African playwright Mbongeni Ngema released a song entitled 'AmaNdiya' (the Indians) -- which accused them of 'not having changed', and stated that 'I have never seen Dlamini emigrating to Bombay, India. Yet, Indians, arrive everyday in Durban, they are packing the airport full' -- it was widely seen as expressing commonly held sentiments.

For all of these reasons I was heartened to read this story about a Zulu man, Patrick Ngcobo, from Durban who has devoted himself to learning Southern Indian classical music. He even raised the money to travel to India and train there. Sadly, it seems, not everyone has Mr Ngcobo's open-minded attitude. The story concludes by noting that he is now working as a gardener and taxi-driver because no-one in Durban wants to listen to him. It seems that Zulus aren't interested because he's singing Indian music, and Indians aren't interested because he's black.

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