Valliamma Munuswamy Mudaliar, SA political activist dies from a fever

Valliamma Munuswamy Mudaliar

Sunday, 22 February 1914

Born to Indian Emigrants from Tamil Nadu, India, Mudaliar grew up in Johannesburg. She was named after the village her mother came from in India, Thillaiyadi. As she entered her teenage years in South Africa, Valliammai became increasingly aware of the oppressive system she and her family were living under.

When Mudaliar was sixteen she joined her mother and a large group of other women in an illegal march from the Transvaal to Natal. In October 1913, once again mother and daughter were part of the second batch of women who marched to Natal. They were arrested and sentenced to three months of hard labour at the Pietermaritzburg prison.  Mudaliar fell ill soon after her conviction but refused an offer to be released early. She died on 22 February 1914, soon after her release from prison. Gandhi, who visited her at her death bed, designed the Indian flag with the colours of Mudaliar’s sari which she had held up in defiance, not having a flag.

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Last updated : 22-Feb-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 14-Feb-2014

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