Labourer or Settler – Colonial Natal’s  Indian Dilemma 1860 – 1897

DuBois addresses the question of how, neither by accident nor design, Natal became home to over 50,000 Indian immigrants during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Duncan Du Bois recounts how, from 1860, at the request of fewer than 50 sugar planters, colonial Natal embarked on a labour dispensation that significantly transformed its character.

By the 1880s, with economic progress hinging on a steady supply of indentured Indian labour, the Colony found itself caught on the horns of a dilemma: as demands for indentured labour reached new levels of necessity, so white settler resentment at the increasing presence of Indians reached new levels of intensity.

Labourer or Settler is an analysis of what started off as a limited experiment and mutated into a controversy of imperial dimensions.

“Labourer or Settler adds important observations regarding the origins and politics of the arrival in the Province of KwaZulu Natal of the largest concentration of Indians outside the sub-continent of India. A very important addition to South African historiography and to the literature of the Indian community, as it celebrates over 150 years of settlement in South Africa.”

TONY LEON, former Leader of the Democratic Alliance, currently South African Ambassador to Argentina.

“Labourer or Settler furthers our understanding of the reaction of the white settler community to the presence and role of Indian immigrants.”

GOOLAM VAHED, Associate Professor of History, University of KwaZulu Natal.

Duncan Du Bois taught History at the high school level for over 30 years before retiring from education. Labourer or Settler is based on research conducted for his MA dissertation entitled ‘Sir John Robinson, the Mercury and the Indian Question in Natal 1860 -1897.’

  • Size A5
  • Number of Pages 216
  • ISBN 13  978-1-920315-65-8
  • Binding Perfect Bound

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