Prof. Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie

The Centre for the Study of Indian Diaspora, University of Hyderabad organized a lecture on Cape Town and the Bombay Presidency: India-South Africa Connected Histories by Prof. Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, Professor Department of History, University of Western Cape, South Africa on 21st January 2013 at Lecture Hall, School of Social Sciences. Prof. Uma is incidentally the great grant daughter of the father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.

The talk at the University focused on the neglected connections between the port city of Cape Town and the early 20th Century Bombay Presidency. Prof. Uma said that unlike Natal where the vast majority of immigrants deport from the ports of Madras and Calcutta, the majority of Cape Town Indians come from what is today Maharashtra and Gujarat and left for Cape Town via the post of Bombay. Prof. Uma said that 85% of Indians cutting across all religions live in towns of South Africa according to the geological survey. Their movements were highly regulated by the Cape Town immigration authorities and finer details like fingerprints and photographs of the Indians were taken who entered South Africa, said Prof. Uma.

Prof. Uma who won the Via Africa award for her book titled Gandhi’s Prisoner? The Life of Gandhi’s Son Manilal (2004), gave a brief on the historical back ground to the connected histories of Cape Town and districts in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Her talk explored the Indianness amongst Cape Town Indians and current links with ancestral villages. Prof. Uma is also the author of Cane Fields to Freedom: a Chronicle of Indian South African Life (2000) which secured her the Western Cape Government award for cultural achievement.

Dr. Amit Kumar Mishra, Coordinator for the Centre for the Study of Indian Diaspora introduced the speaker and later proposed a vote of thanks.