1906 Prisoner of War wall

Between February and July 1906, the leaders of several African communities in the British colonies of Natal and Zululand rose up in armed rebellion against injustice and oppression. The most widely known leader of this struggle was Chief Bhambatha kaMancinza of the Zondi, although other important traditional leaders who led their people in the rebellion included Sigananda kaZokufa of the Shezi, Meseni kaMusi of the Qwabe and Ndlovu kaTimuni of the Zulu. Following the brutal suppression of the uprising…Read more

African Bathing Beach

Social interactions within Durban were racially segregated long before the formal introduction of apartheid. This applied not only to residential areas, but economic, cultural and social spaces too, including swimming beaches. When “Bay Beach” on the harbour-side was developed in 1857, the facilities were reserved for the use of white residents. The more remote, rougher beaches on the Indian Ocean, known as “Back Beach”…Read more

Bantu Social Centre (Beatrice Street YMCA)

The Durban Bantu Social Centre was originally opened in Victoria Street on 21 October 1933, and later moved to this site in Beatrice Street (renamed Charlotte Maxeke Street) near the popular American Board Congregational Church. The centre opened after a period of massive black urbanisation. The Durban Municipality established a structure to control African people in the city, built on revenue generated from the municipal beer monopoly…Read more

Cartwright Flats

Cartwright Flats was a popular meeting place for members of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU). In 1925 A.W.G. Champion became Provincial Secretary of the ICU in Natal and established offices in the Natal Workers Club nearby at 11 Leopold Street. Large crowds of workers often gathered here for meetings on the open ground, which was then on the outskirts of Durban. Among leaders who addressed workers at this site was Johannes Nkosi, who was an activist for the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA)…Read more

Curries Fountain Stadium

“Curries”, as the stadium is affectionately known, has a unique status as a site of community activism in Durban, where the ideals of non-racial sports were developed and put into practice. The venue was also used extensively for mass political events. The name Curries Fountain originated from the municipal waterworks, which was established nearby in 1878. Playing fields were first created at the site after 1892 when racist colonial segregation policies prevented black teams from using other grounds reserved exclusively for whites…Read more

Denis Hurley Centre

The Denis Hurley Centre (DHC) is a living legacy to the life and witness of Archbishop Denis Hurley OMI. For 45 years he led the Catholic Church in Durban, becoming internationally known for his outspoken opposition to apartheid. Archbishop Hurley was also a significant figure in the Second Vatican Council from 1962-1965, which brought about profound changes in the Catholic Church. In his opposition to apartheid and…Read more


In the 1970s, Archbishop Denis Hurley shared his vision of an ecumenical organisation to work for justice in the greater Durban area. He believed the church should have been doing more in the struggle to end apartheid. Hurley wanted to create an inter-church structure that would concentrate on the distress of ordinary people…Read more

Dr Monty Naicker Memorial

Throughout his life, Gagathura Mohambry Naicker (1910-1978), known as Monty, was a second-class citizen, denied that which ought to be the birthright of every South African. The air Monty breathed during his infant years was infused with the energy and excitement of mass resistance in the Indian community, in which women played a pivotal role. His medical student days in Edinburgh gave him a world perspective; this is where he forged a lifelong friendship with Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Dr Goonum Naidoo…Read more

Durban City Hall

Since the Durban City Hall was officially opened on 12 May 1910 the imposing domed building has been the centre of municipal government, housing the Mayor’s Parlour, council chambers and other important offices. During decades of state-sanctioned racial segregation, and apartheid legislation after 1948, the city council and elected officials represented the will of only a small white minority. As a result, until 1994 the…Read more

Durban Central Prison

Durban Central Prison stood on this site from the early 20th century until it was decommissioned in 1985, when the new Westville Prison was completed. Originally the town jail, it held a combination of convicted criminals, remanded prisoners awaiting trial at the nearby Magistrate’s Courts and political detainees being held without trial. It was commonly referred to by prisoners as “Sentele”, derived from the Zulu pronunciation of…Read more

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…Read more

Fisher Street Security Branch office (Fisher Street)

The Security Branch of the South African Police was responsible for internal security rather than criminal activity, and was used by the government to suppress anti-apartheid organisations and activists. Also known as the Special Branch, police agents tried to prevent sabotage by armed militants and to curb activities the National Party regime considered subversive. The “SB” was an elite force within the state security apparatus, with a high profile that permitted access to all…Read more

Gandhi Library

The M.K. Gandhi Library was officially opened on 10 September 1921 at 140 Queen Street (renamed Denis Hurley Street), at a time when public library services for Indians were severely neglected. The library was the vision of Parsee Rustomjee, a retailer and merchant from India who settled in South Africa. The Bai Jerbai Rustomjee Trust, named for his wife, administers the library and the Parsee Rustomjee Hall…Read more

Gandhi Memorial

This memorial commemorates the enduring presence of Mahatma Gandhi in Durban. The historic site was one of two purchased by Gandhi during his stay in the city. Gandhi transferred the properties to the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) in 1896 and 1897, intending that they be used to meet the political objectives of the people. The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust was established in 1960 in order to manage the…Read more

Himalaya House

When the Himalaya House apartment-block was built on this site between Etna Lane and Warwick Avenue (renamed Julius Nyerere Avenue), it was the first large high-rise residence in this part of Durban. The apartments were home to a wide range of leaders in the liberation struggle, but this building played a meaningful role in the historical development of the Black Consciousness Movement. After Steve Biko…Read more

Indian Opinion Offices

The offices used by M.K. Gandhi at 14 Mercury Lane were used for the administration of both the International Printing Press (IPP), founded in November 1898, and Indian Opinion, the newspaper he established in 1903. The International Printing Press was founded on 29 November 1898 at 113 Grey Street, alongside the Natal Indian Congress hall.Read more

Juma Masjid

In August 1881 Aboobaker Amod Jhaveri and Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada purchased a site in Grey Street (renamed Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street) from K. Moonsamy for £115, for the construction of a mosque. In 1884 the two founders enlarged the existing brick and mortar structure to create the Juma Masjid, which was the first mosque built in the colony of Natal. Adjoining property was subsequently added due to a sharp increase in numbers of worshippers and the first two minarets on the Grey Street mosque were constructed in 1904…Read more

Kapitan′s Balcony Hotel

Kapitan′s Balcony Hotel on the corner of Grey Street and Victoria Street (renamed Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street and Bertha Mkhize Street respectively) was owned and run by Ranchod Kesur Kapitan from about 1925. Ranchod′s father, Kesur Jivan Kapitan arrived in Durban from India in 1887 and set up a business here. Kapitan′s Balcony Hotel operated a vegetarian restaurant to cater for Indian immigrants, and was also well known for its sweetmeats. The restaurant occupied the ground floor of 154 Grey Street, as well as the first…Read more

KwaMuhle Museum

KwaMuhle Museum commemorates the struggle for dignity by ordinary people during apartheid. Constructed in 1927, this building was the office of the notorious Department of Native Affairs, which administered policies that discriminated against black South Africans and enforced laws of racial segregation. The Department of Native Affairs was responsible for documenting all African workers in Durban, and issued the hated passbook (or “dompas”) that controlled….Read more

Lakhani Chambers

Offices in this building were used by many organisations and individuals engaged in the struggle against apartheid and racism. From the 1940s the regional offices of both the ANC and South African Communist Party were housed in Lakhani Chambers. The Natal Indian Congress also maintained its administration here during the 1950s, under the leadership of M.P. Naicker. The close proximity of these offices fostered the formal alliance between these…Read more

Red Square

This open-air space is what remains of a large meeting place known as Red Square, which existed until the Nicol Square parking garage was built in 1967. The area became vacant during the 1890s when a railway line that originally occupied the space was relocated. While public facilities soon filled the parts of the former rail corridor closer to the centre of town, the western portion was left undeveloped. Later officially renamed Nicol Square, the public space was convenient for large political gatherings, most notably for rallies held by the South African…Read more

Resistance Park

The Indian Congresses turned passive resistance into an active form of struggle. In the late 1940s, the leaders of the Natal Indian Congresses, Dr Monty Naicker and Dr Yusuf Dadoo, supported by dozens of militant unionists and activists, revived the spirit of the 1913 mass campaigns. Mobilising and organising the Indian community became their single focus. On 13 June 1946 they launched the Passive Resistance Campaign against the Ghetto Act of 1946, which restricted Indian ownership of property…Read more

Sastri College

This was the first Indian high school and teachers training college built in South Africa, which was opened in October 1929. The double-storey complex was founded by the Honourable V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, who was appointed as Agent of the Indian government to South Africa in 1927, and designed by the architect Hermann Kallenbach, a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi. By agreement with the Smuts administration Srinivasa Sastri was responsible for issues including voluntary repatriation to India of Indians living in South Africa…Read more

Surat Hindu Association

The Surat Hindu Association was founded by the Gujarati-speaking section of the Hindu community in Durban in 1907, and is the oldest registered organisation in KwaZulu-Natal. The aims of the Association were to defend the interests and rights of Indian people, who faced discrimination in colonial-era Natal. Receptions were hosted for community leaders such as M.K. Gandhi, Srinivas Sastri and Sarojini Naidu. The Surat Hindu Educational…Read more

South African Student’s Organisation and Black Community Programmes

During the 1970s, the national headquarters of the South African Students Organisation (SASO), and offices of the Black Community Programmes (BCP) were housed in a cluster of buildings on this site, owned by the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. Under the leadership of Bantu Stephen Biko in 1968, black students broke away from the multi-racial National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) and formed SASO…Read more

St Aidan’s Mission Clinic

Dr Lancelot Parker Booth was a surgeon who trained in Scotland, and then joined the Natal Indian Immigration Department as a district surgeon. Following religious training he was appointed as a cleric and later became Anglican Diocesan Superintendent of Indian Missions in Natal. Rev Dr Booth lived at number 49 Cross Street in a large, iron-roofed bungalow with outbuildings, which were surrounded by a rusty corrugated iron fence. He was appalled at the conditions…Read more

St Aidan’s Mission Hospital

St Aidan’s hospital was first established as part of the Anglican Church mission, founded at 49 Cross Street in 1883 by Rev Dr Lancelot Parker Booth. He was appalled at conditions of hardship that prevailed among parts of the Indian community in Durban and acted on those concerns. The first Anglican Mission to Indians in Colonial Natal was founded with a focus on education and medical care. Rev Booth set up a simple dispensary and clinic in the back yard of his Mission House school in Cross Street. In 1887…Read more

Victoria Street beerhall (eMatsheni)

From 1909 until the late 1960s Durban municipality held a monopoly on the production and sale of traditional African beer, called utshwala. Beerhalls were known informally as “eMatsheni”, or “the place of stones”, a name that originated from the large stones outside Durban railway station that African women sat on while selling beer, before the beer monopoly was introduced in 1908…Read more

Victoria Street Market

The Victoria Street Market has a rich history that reflects the struggles of a poor community striving for their own identity alongside a strong need to survive economically. The market was founded by ex-indentured labourers who created their own employment as market garden farmers. Initially the grounds of Grey Street mosque were used to trade, but as the number of…Read more

Warwick Avenue area forced removals

Spanning Old Dutch Road, the main traffic artery from the west, was a residential neighbourhood on the lower slope of the Berea, known as the “Duchene” or “Dutchies”. Settled by former indentured Indians and bordered by the Western Vlei, it was on the outskirts of town yet close to markets and transport routes. After the Vlei was drained and social institutions were…Read more