Parts of it have been referred to as the "Imperial Ghetto" (Badsha: 2001) or the "Duchene" and "Casbah" (Hassim: 2009) or simply "town" by the many who have frequented its markets, mosques, bus ranks, cinemas, schools, shops, cathedral and temples. The area is known for its "bunny-chows", tearooms, saris, American Clothing stores, spices, jewellers, tailors, fah-fee and the feared Duchene gang. Central to the life of this "town" was Currie’s Fountain sports ground, popularly known as "Currie’s", which served as a sports, cultural and political protest venue for seven decades.
This urban experience of blacks, who were referred to as "non-Europeans", during the apartheid era, and the institutions and places that are of cultural, educational, religious, sports and political importance, and thus part of the city’s heritage, is largely absent in publications on Durban’s history. This dissertation addresses this issue and focuses on an old part of Durban, referred to as the Warwick Junction Precinct (WJP), that was shaped by colonial and apartheid policies and planning, from the 1870s to the 1980s, identifying the "non-European" presence and what the nature of this presence was. It focuses on the micro level of the spatial development of a precinct, spawned in the aftermath of indenture and identifies the tapestry of facilities, institutions, places and spaces that collectively comprise and symbolise "non-European" Durban. It traces the establishment and growth of this other "invisible" precinct, since the settlement of Indians in Durban in the 1870s and the urbanization of Africans, until the 1980s when the apartheid ideology and its structures started to implode.
Spatial information in the form of maps, diagrams and photographs, combined with the social history, laws and planning responses over a hundred and ten year period, identifies and maps out a substantial area that traces residential, religious, educational, commercial, sports and struggle sites that are of historical significance and thus part of the heritage of a multi-cultural city. Although restricted to a fairly small area, it has all the elements that comprise a city, such as commercial and residential areas, worship sites, a burial site, educational institutions and libraries, numerous markets, bus, train and taxi transport nodes, recreational and struggle sites that are of cultural and socio-political significance to Blacks in the city of Durban, for more than a century. This study documents the evolution of the Warwick Junction Precinct which has become a city in its own right with a rich heritage spanning both the colonial and apartheid eras.