Introduction to Our Town
The multicultural heart of the city of Durban and its immediate suburbs crystallises into various components as you leave the city. The racial segregation of apartheid’s Group Areas Act has left a legacy that will be with us for generations, and virtually every suburb has a population that is racially defined. This means - among many things - that the individual cultures of our various communities have been strengthened by concentration. From Wentworth to Chatsworth to Hillcrest to Umlazi, you might think you were in different countries were it not for the lush vegetation that crops up even in the dustiest of townships, and the friendliness that survives even in the richest of suburbs. And beyond the suburbs lies the sea, the mountains, the bush, the sky, the breath-takingly beautiful country of South Africa.
CHATSWORTH is an Indian township whose culture is central to Durban’s identity and a direct result of the Group Areas Act. In the 1950s Indians from all over Durban were rounded up and dumped in Chatsworth, on land that had been taken from 600 Indian farmers. More than a half a century later Chatsworth contains pockets of affluence but consists mostly of poor and working class people. Despite the obstacles it faced and continues to face, Chatsworth exudes a deep sense of community and a rich tradition of struggle, that continues in the face of the challenges posed by the new South Africa.