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Why Indians should ’Park by the Pozie’

Karou Charou. Picture: Supplied

Karou Charou. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 4, 2020


Opinion - The Park by the Pozie (literally translated as ’stay at home’) initiative was launched by the National Indian Congress of South Africa (NICSA). It is not a political party, but an activist movement. Its sole intention is to create a sense of awareness of issues that affect mainly Indian citizens in South Africa.

The premise upon which such an initiative rests is simply that as Indian citizens, our role in South Africa is not recognised or appreciated when we contribute to the development of this country in every way.

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Considered a minority, the Indian citizen is, in fact, a major player. Outside the motherland of India, Durban (eThekwini) is home to the largest Indian population in the world.

It may not have been realised at the time, but India was rubber-stamping her mark on the southern-most tip of Africa, on a continent considered primarily black. From their importation onto these shores by British colonialists to toil in the sugar cane fields as slaves, Indians overcame their indenture, the inhumane oppression they were subjected to and their disenfranchisement. That way, they cemented their citizenship as equal to any other.

They have added to the diversity and colour of this country in such a way it is impossible to ignore their presence or contribution. From the bunny chows to the delicious crab curries to the samoosas, from the various linguistic orientations to the colourful wedding ceremonies and from slave to citizen, the South African Indian has become very much part of the tapestry of this nation.

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However, while we may enjoy the equality brought about by freedom and democracy, there is still an undercurrent of dissatisfaction about how the Indian citizen is viewed. It may be arguable, but the marginalisation of the Indian citizen is real in South Africa, despite any protestations to the contrary.

Yet, through all the adversity after a quarter of a century into a new order, the Indian citizen is productive, progressive and pertinent to the greater cause of a country that promises so much. In every facet of human endeavour of this country, the Indian citizen has excelled - be it education, law, medicine, agriculture or commerce. In doing so, they have ensured their role is as vital as any other group, minority or not.

The Park by the Pozie campaign is simply to highlight the salutary presence of a community and the power they wield in terms of the economy. The campaign boasts no political intention nor does it in any way visit a racial undertone. The imperatives of the campaign are to convey a message in a passive, civil and decent manner to fellow compatriots that the Indian community is as integral to this country as the rest of the citizens.

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Staying at home and not participating in any economic activity for a day - for example not visiting cinemas, restaurants, malls, casinos or other places of entertainment - will demonstrate how much economic power this community commands, especially in eThekwini.

It must be noted that this campaign in no way changes the general activity on the day, except for a call to stay away from major centres of business. The business-as-usual principle shall apply only to the extent of keeping away from commercial operations of a large nature.

Solidarity with Park by the Pozie will go a long way - even if for a day - to show the economic power of the Indian community. While suffering marginalisation, the community still wields clout in the South African economy.

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For example, if one has to take the local casinos, which are owned by the giant conglomerates, its primary source of patronage is the Indian community. By staying away from the casinos, even for a day, the power of the people will be evident.

It is absolutely important to understand this campaign does not, will not and cannot promote any form of racial disharmony and its intentions are noble. We therefore appeal to the Indian community to Park by the Pozie on December 12, and not support any form of economic activity so that our value can be measured, paradoxically, by our absence rather than our presence.

Karou Charou, spokesperson for NICSA.

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