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They Came from India: The Narrandes Family

They Came from India: The Narrandes Family (Hardback)

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BiographyBiography: generalBiography: literaryHistory & PoliticsLocal interest, family history & nostalgiaLocal history Publisher: Mansingh Publishers Publication Date: 20/04/2012 ISBN-13: 9780956730015  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Customer Reviews

When I visited the world famous Foyles book shop in London in April, 2013, I was particularly interested in the history department on the 2nd floor. I was delighted to discover, next to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, a book titled “They came from India The Narrandes Family”. How was it, I asked myself, that this cute little boy on the dust cover had such a high profile, a honour that had eluded so many other distinguished authors and historians. I immediately bought a copy of Narrandes’s book. This book unveiled absolutely new information to me and many out there who are not shy to admit it. The author successfully identified and provided an authentic argument based on facts and supported evidence contradicting some of the popular believe among scholars and historians. One can be forgiven if one asserts that it will be irresponsible and unethical if such compelling evidence and facts are not acknowledged in our new history books. This book is a heartbreaking reminder of a challenge that our history as a ‘new’ nation must be rewritten by ourselves, setting the records straight and correcting distortions of facts and events. This book‘s challenging new historical information is a breath of fresh air about South African history. Rear insight information about the role played by our fellow countrymen of Indian origin, particularly the Narrandes Family from the mid -19th Century to the middle of the 20th Century must be acknowledged. Mansingh has written a highly personal and poetic odyssey concerning the family’s important role in South African history. This is essential reading not only for students and academics back home in SA, but for all those who research international history. In my many roles so far - a teacher in the Free State, Deputy Head Teacher in Tembisa and Head of Department in Soweto in Johannesburg for over fifteen years, activist in both the ANC and SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers Union) - - - ……………………………..I feel that no library should be without a copy of this book, students, politicians and historians or any one curious about politics and the future of our beloved South Africa must read this book. Moses Shale, BA Honors, Leadership and Management-Education (University of Johannesburg SA), MA International Business & Diplomacy (University of East Anglia-UK)

- 26/10/2013
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This is my most beloved and cherished book on my shelf. It is a historical novel, but it also comprises my particular passion: Indian food. It explores the traditional Indian cuisine which evolved over time in Indian homes throughout South Africa during the 150 year presence of the indentured Indians. It is exceedingly fascinating to read about how eating habits changed in the Indian’s new homeland and how they became curry pioneers in their new country. Of most interest to me was the history of the Bunny Chow. The creator of Bunny Chow, one of the most sought after local food treats in SA and a personal favourite, is the author’s own grandmother, Kowsilia (Ajoo). What a pleasure to read the truth about the origin of bunny chow -which has many claimants to it’s name! I didn’t know the origin and have been so many challenging myths surrounding it. But there is no dispute, this is the most original story of it’s origin. The amount of effort put into this book is extraordinary and the details are exceptional and it should belong on everyone's book shelf as there is something of interest for everyone. Deborah Myburg (formally from Durban) Muswell Hill, London UK

- 22/10/2013
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Mansingh Narrandes is a Dudden Hill resident and the author of the book They Came From India. The book uses evidence from his family history and places this into a wider historical context. Mansingh and his wife were born in South Africa and are now British citizens but they remain deeply attached to their original roots –India, the ancient land of their ancestors and South Africa to whose economic development and political liberation they contributed so magnificently. He pulls no punches. Many will disagree with his indictment of some of the youthful political foibles and blunders of the great Mahatma Gandhi’s lively, indeed turbulent period in South Africa, but few will be able to mount a challenge to Narrandes’ scrupulously honest and brilliantly researched assessment. It was refreshing to read this coming from a fresh perspective and I would recommend this book to all to get a true picture of the realities of apartheid behind the main headlines. Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Labour Party Councillor in London

- 09/10/2013
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They Came From India is a fascinating book chronicling the history of several generations of one family, originally sent to Natal as part of the indentured Indian workforce. Like Indian communities that have since grown outside India all over the world, it documents how they were able to quickly establish themselves within the community and make significant improvements to the quality of their lives and the lives of those around them. Natal and the broader South Africa would not be what it is today were it not for the contributions of these early settlers.

- 30/09/2013
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I was delighted to read They came from India The Narrandes Family. The book was a revelation to one with a hungry curiosity about the great emigration and what drove our people to seek their fortunes abroad. Thanks to your book, I have learned that we, East African Asians, were not the first settlers in Africa and that this honour belongs to the pioneering South African Indians. While the South African indentured worked on the sugar cane plantations and the mines we built the railways, braving hostile conditions including fighting off predatory lions which claimed the lives of hundreds of our people. Some say that the South African Indians were morally superior to their East African counterparts in that while we were accused of distancing ourselves from the African struggle for Uhuru (Freedom), the South African Indians bravely joined the struggle. Only partially true for some of us, admittedly a minority also helped to bring about Uhuru in East Africa. Yours is a wonderfully absorbing and informative book which helps us and other people to appreciate the largely neglected but immense contribution of South African Indians to the development of our respective countries. My only observation: THE TITLE They came from India The Narrandes Family may give the impression that the book is about The Narrandes’s Family when in fact it covers the experiences of the entire Indian community. But I am sure readers will discover this fact for themselves. Kiran Khatri (Proprietor of NORGE DRY CLEANERS London UK)

- 30/09/2013
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I visited South Africa without any knowledge of the Indians of that country, particularly the role of the indentured in turning Natal into a beautiful gardening colony, one of the finest in the world. I have learned this from Narrandes’s book; They came from India The Narrandes Family. Again thanks to Narrandes I have also learned of the role of the Indian merchant class in providing basic, much needed essentials not only to Indian and African consumers but also to whites at affordable prices. As an Asian Britain I proudly reflect on the benefits conferred by Asians through their ubiquitous corner shops, restaurants, chemists, newsagents, accountants and medical centres in Britain. This is a typical Asian trait which continues to add to the happiness of people of all races and colours. As a result of reading They came from India The Narrandes Family I propose to return to South Africa armed with greater knowledge of the country and the Indian people whose respect for the work ethic has made an indispensable contribution to the liberation of that land and its economic, social and cultural well-being. I was very impressed with the two Narrandes brothers whose selfless service to the indentured when they were bereft of sound, honest leadership, improved significantly the quality of life at many levels – the work-place, schools, sport and secular religious activities. Mr. Narrandes has produced a well researched book in a most appealing style with some excellent illustrations. Venoid Patel, (Proprietor: FRANK WREFORD, London, United Kingdom)

- 21/09/2013
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Members of my generation in India and the United Kingdom have always felt strongly about South Africa and were delighted when freedom finally triumphed in that tragic land. We knew of the Gandhi connection and the fact that he had developed his principle of Satyaghra, non-violence, with the courageous assistance of the indentured labourers. We knew, too, that South African Indians made a huge contribution to the Freedom Struggle, a fact not always appreciated by some nationalist Africans and the Western media which has always marginalized the Indians. But the author of They came from India The Narrandes Family is probably the first historian to give us a detailed and dramatic picture of the lives, times, setbacks, struggles and achievements of the Indians in the British Colony of Natal and later under the Apartheid Government. Narrandes expertly paints a convincing picture of the many aspects of community life from religion to politics, from sport to education and their transformation from agricultural labourers, miners and factory workers as an exploited people to the largely middle class status they enjoy today as professionals and business persons. This is all done in an elegant, most readable and enjoyable style. I heartily recommend this masterpiece to those who want to know more about the indentured labourers and their descendants through the well documented lives of a single high-achieving family, “The Narrandes”. Dr. Cyriac Maprayil (Executive Director of the V.K. Krishna Menon Institute and Vice Chairman of the India League (UK))

- 13/09/2013
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THEY CAME FROM INDIA: THE NARRANDES FAMILY is an interesting book story of how three brothers try to improve the living in South Africa. Before reading this book I had read much about the great country of India and its people in my country, Iran. I specifically read up on the personality of Gandhi who caused an upheaval in the political and social environment and created a revolution in the country. This book, however, has new references that contradict what I have studied before but at any rate, it gave a more profound view of the political and social conditions of India and of its politicians. For this reason I would highly recommend this book to those who want to research more deeply into this subject.

- 14/05/2013
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As a child we are taught that history has a set line, and that the most prominent of us stand out from the crowd,while in the background there a countless recollections of a different story waiting to be told, They Came From India is one book that is a backseat ride into another persons memories on the whole history defining scenario. This heart warming, captivating and pictorial treasure, delves deep into an unfounded historical journey and illustrates the massive contribution that one family made to the cultural and spiritual advancement in the fight for human rights. The fact that this book is so original and brutally frank ensures it is undeniably one of the most readable accounts of a part of South African history which until now, has been hidden away. It has pushed a boundary for generations to question what really happened in the fight for cultural justice in Natal, South Africa. Three assertive brothers, Dowlath, Gunpath and Gopaul passionate to improve the lives and human rights of the indentured Indians, who were exploited for cheap labour, and discriminated against. The Narrandes family's chronicle turned out to be an informative, well researched factual read that had me wanting to turn the next page,and see what was the next obstacle in this family's defining history.They Came From India is definitely a must read for all who have a thirst for history and the hunger for just a little bit more.

- 01/02/2013
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This is an interesting view of how an Indian family arrived in, what is now South Africa, and proceeded to establish themselves and leave their mark for future generations. The historical references, particularly to Gandhi's now famous train "incident", allow the reader to put it in the context of subject matter that many would have already studied at school. However, as with all books that claim to provide previously unknown historical facts, one has to question the validity of the evidence on which this whole story is based. As with the now infamous Hitler diary forgeries of the early 1980's, how do we know that the documents on which this book is based are genuine? For this reason, and until I have the evidence that this whole story is founded on fact and not fiction, I'm only prepared to give it 3 stars, and it will for that reason remain a good story and nothing else.

- 31/01/2013
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Mr Narrandes has written an inspirational and detailed account of the wretched living conditions of indentured Indians who were lured to the then British colony Natal, South Africa in 1860, to work in the sugar cane plantations by inflated promises of housing, medical care and sizable salaries. The book, “They came from India The Narrandes Family,” traces the abject poverty that these workers were mired in, having left their families behind in India in the belief that they would improve the lot of their families by dint of hard work. They were to face innumerable hardships, pitiful living conditions and the arrogant cruelty of their British overlords who exercised droit de seigneur over the lives of the workers and their families, and by employing skilful sleight of contractual agreements, reducing the workers lives to the worst form of slavery. Interwoven in this historical account, are the lives of three generations of the author’s family and their sterling endeavours to improve and alleviate the lot of the indentured labourers. It is a story that needs to be told, that needs to be part of the history, not only of South Africa but also the wider Indian Diaspora and of all immigrant communities that strived under wretched conditions and against all odds to lift themselves up and to become an integral part of the cultural, economic and political fabric of their adopted countries. As Aziz Hassim, author of “The Lotus People” says: “Until the lion tells his story, tales of hunting will glorify the hunter. Ultimately the book is testament to the triumph of the human spirit which like a phoenix rising from the ashes, embraces hope and renewal, in order to enrich the lives of the generations to come. Dr. Aysha Dawood, Durban, Rep. of South Africa

- 30/08/2012
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They Came from India: The Narrandes Family is the story of three brothers’ tireless efforts to improve the living and working conditions of their Indian compatriots in Natal, South Africa under the system of Indentured labour from 1860 onwards. This pernicious system of cheap labour in the plantations and mining communities, together with the discrimination experienced by both Indians and Africans is movingly portrayed so that the reader is engaged with their plight. The book relates how the author discovered an extensive archive of documents and pictures hoarded by his aunt which provide insights into the family history and the history of the Indian indentured in Natal as well as revealing a fascinating cast of characters. It then describes the brothers’ activities in establishing sport, education and religious toleration. Clearly their contribution to improving social, living and working conditions was immense. This is not a dispassionate account (the indignation and protests of the author, who is the grandson of one of the brothers, are frequently expressed rather than just allowing the facts to speak for themselves) but it is very well researched and substantiated by a great deal of documentation and pictorial evidence. An enjoyable and informative book on a subject which has previously not been sufficiently explored. S. V. Samson 13.06.12

- 14/06/2012
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On the surface, it may seem that They Came From India: The Narrandes Family is just another old-fashioned story of one Indian family's exploits in South Africa, a country with more than it's fair share of controversy in the history of the African sub-continent. However, start reading and, thanks to the serendipitous discovery of a meticulous collection of documents and photographs by one recent family member, and the dedicated labour of love of the author, it soon becomes evident that the Narrandes family were not just a passive observer of what was going on around them in Natal, but were the catalyst that brought about significant changes in the socio-economic fabric of the region. It is a book you just can't put down. As you flick through the pages there is a definite need to begin to understand the indentured Indians and their life in South Africa. They overcame the most deplorable of obstacles of bureaucratic inhumanity. Usually I would not really read a history book but this felt more like a Sherlock Holmes novel, and it makes this particular period of history rather appealing to learn about. The feeling of pride coming from the author is a constant emotion that’s validated in the book. It’s a family chronicle that truly deserves recognition and it’s a story that needed to be told. The author feels rightly motivated to share the facts uncovered about Ghandi and his famous train incident in Pietermaritzburg and he owed it to his forefathers to share this history. It is most definitely a recommended read, not just for Indians and South Africans with a personal connection with this period of history, but for anyone who wants to better understand these two diverse yet connected nations.

- 12/06/2012
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Tracing family history has become one of our favourite hobbies however for the author, Mansingh (Jaipal) Narrandes, it becomes a personal quest to take old family documents he found in a family flat and piece by piece he carefully recreates a historical narrative. It’s a compelling book of discovery and in so being it also becomes a missing link to a bit of SA history that does not exist. ’They came from India’ is, in my opinion, essential reading and reference for anyone who wants to find out about the Indentured Indians, and those keen to understand the role that Narrandes’ ancestors had on shaping South African history. A must read!

- 07/06/2012
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A gripping story of the three independent minded and altruistic brothers, Gunpath, Gopaul and Dowlath and their heroic efforts to assert the human rights of the Indian Indentured who were lured to the canefields and the mines of Natal which, without Indian labour, would not have become such an enormous source of wealth for the country. The author, JaiPaul (JP) Narrandes also reveals for the first time the brothers’ conflict with Mr. Gandhi on several major issues the main one being Gandhi’s opposition to the brothers’ insistence that the Indians cooperate with the Africans in the beginning of their struggle. As for the famous incident in Pietermaritzburg, where he was thrown out from the train, the author provides evidence that would probably upset the sensitivities of the “informed” and the “uninformed.” Richard Bowen

- 31/05/2012
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