Unisa Press

Sisters in the struggle Vol 3

Women of Indian Origin in South Africa's Liberation Struggle 1900–1994 VOLUME 3: 1970s–1990s

Author: Kalpana Hiralal
Published: March 21, 2023
ISBN: 9781776150786
Number of pages: 135
This book is not available in electronic format

About the book

Women of all races, including those of Indian descent, had been victims of patriarchy, chauvinism and misogyny since time immemorial. Traditional and religious beliefs perpetrated these injustices. Some men also believed that women were not eligible to participate in the resistance against apartheid nor be members of political parties, and this perception only changed in the 1940s. The involvement of Indian women in the liberation struggle has scant representation in literature.

‘Sisters in the struggle’: Women of Indian Origin in South Africa’s Liberation Struggle 1900–1994 unveils an unchartered historical terrain, highlighting the contributions of Indian women towards nonracialism and equality and their experiences within diverse political parties; therefore, shifting the post-apartheid liberation stories which have been dominated by the journey of the ANC to other political organisations who collectively played a significant role in South Africa’s road to democracy.

Indians are perceived by some as oppressors and exploiters of black labour than as active participants in the struggle against apartheid. In this book, Hiralal presents a refreshing perspective of Indians, particularly women, as contributors and activists in the struggle. The book elucidates that the struggle against apartheid was a collective endeavour among the oppressed races and not a one-sided endeavour by the ANC. Therefore, this book presents a fresh perspective to the history of South Africa in which the participation of Indian women against apartheid and colonialism are examined within a gender and political framework.

Table of content

Foreword vii

‘I am Woman: Poem on “The South African Indian Woman” ix

Acknowledgements xiii

Figures xiv

Abbreviations and Acronyms xvii


The 1970s - 1990s Black Consciousness, Youth Activism and the Fall of Apartheid 1

46 Julie Paramosothie Vedan 22

47 Sumboornam (Sam) Moodley 25

48 Kogila Perumal Cooper 33

49 Alison Mary Lucille Lazarus 37

50 Pregaluxmi (Pregs) Govender 40

51 Dhayanithie (Dhaya) Pillay 47

52 Rowayda Halim 54

53 Yashica Padia 58

54 Hersheela Narsee 62

55 Asha Rambally Moodley 71


‘Pillars of Strength’: ‘Political Widows’ and Mothers in the Liberation Struggle 81

56 Mariemoothammal (Marie) Naicker 89

57 Rabia ‘Choti’ Motala 94

58 Sarasvathie (Saras) Chetty 98

59 Devikie (Terese) Venkatruthnam 103

60 Sarogoonam (Saro) Naicker 109

61 Neela Salamma Naidu 115

Conclusion 118

Bibliography 129

Index 135