Early Morning Market

The Early Morning Market, built by the colonial Durban Town Council, commenced trading on this site in what is now known as Julius Nyerere Avenue on 1 February 1934, following more than 50 years of struggle for a marketplace by the ex-indentured Indian gardeners. Fifty-eight percent of the indentured Indian labourers who had been brought to the colony of Natal from 1860 onwards chose to remain here. Very few re-indentured. Many rented small plots of land on the outskirts of Durban to earn a livelihood as market gardeners. However, they were prevented from selling their produce in the colonial town market, and when allowed in later years, access was only permitted after hours provided they offered their goods at lower prices. Even this limited concession was subsequently denied, and the Indians then made arrangements to trade at the Grey Street Mosque and from premises in Victoria Street. In 1910 the Durban Town Council built a market in Victoria Street (renamed Bertha Mkhize Street), which was small and inadequate. Following much agitation and resistance, the Durban Council set up a street market in Victoria Street, known as the Early Morning Market or “Squatters’ Market”. Approximately 2 000 stallholders lined up on both sides of the street with 150 carts and animals. The municipal Market Master, in 1929, observed that "hundreds of horse-drawn vehicles" brought produce to the Market from midnight to 9:30 a.m. each day. The pioneering spirit and perseverance of the indentured labourer is commemorated at the Early Morning Market today.

Location

Address: corner of David Webster St and market Street
GPS Points: -29.85286, 31.02419
Site Contact Details: Steven Kotze
Durban Local History Museums
steven.kotze@durban.gov.za
031 311 2239

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