Inanda lies 30km north-west of Durban’s CBD. While many might pass the area on the way to and from airport or northern suburbs, it features a wealth of resistance history. The Inanda Heritage Route includes some of the most important but little-known, historical sites of Durban, including the place where Mandela cast his first democratic vote in 1994.
There is much to explore in Inanda and below are just a few of the many attractions and historical sites for visitors to experience on the heritage trail.
Phoenix Settlement and the Gandhi Trail
The Inanda Heritage Route begins at the Phoenix settlement, and guests can visit Gandhi’s home, his International Printing Press, and the museum. In 1904, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi relocated from Durban to northwestern Inanda and established a small, village-style settlement known as Phoenix. Gandhi had moved to South Africa in 1893 to legally represent an Indian client and soon experienced the racism and intolerance that characterised the colonial state. He began protesting against the system in small but significant ways. For example, by refusing to sit on the floor when he was denied a seat on a “Europeans only” stagecoach carriage and declining to remove his turban when ordered to do so by a Durban magistrate. Despite facing violence and abuse for these protest actions, he continued to rally against the colonial state and even volunteered in the Boer War, creating a team of Indian stretcher bearers.
His relocation to Phoenix marked a change in his outlook, and it was here he sought to embark on a life of:
“communal living, non-possession, interfaith harmony, simplicity, environmental protection, conservation, manual labour, social and economic justice, non-violent action, principles of education and truth.”
In 1903 he started a newspaper, the Indian Opinion and by 1904 moved the printing press to Phoenix. This publication became a pertinent political tool for Gandhi and the Natal Indian Congress to campaign against injustice and fight for civil rights. Visitors can see the original press that was used to print the original publication.
Ohlange Institute and John L. Dube’s house and grave
Next up on the heritage trail visitors will explore the historical Ohlange Institute. This was the first school to be founded by a black person in South Africa and is thus a significant site. It was established in 1900 by John Dube – who went on to become the first president of the ANC – and his first wife Nokutela. This space is also of great historical importance as it was where Madiba cast his historical vote during South Africa’s first democratic elections on April 27th, 1994.
It is said that after Mandela cast his vote, he visited the grave of John Dube and said:
Mr President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is free today.
A place of many firsts, this route also includes Inanda Seminary school. It was established in 1869 by American missionaries (Lucy and Daniel Lindley) and it the first “secondary school for African girls”. It catered to the daughters of the amaKholwa, the mission-educated elite, and remained a popular boarding school until the 1980s when previously ‘whites only’ schools began opening their doors to all races.
The Inanda Heritage Route is certainly worth visiting if you have a penchant for history and want to learn more about KwaZulu-Natal’s rich historical past. Watch this space to see how Durban Local History Museum’s own Amandla Liberation Route will be expanding to include sites beyond the city centre.