Not too many people are aware that Durban has the largest concentration of Indian people outside of India! Originally brought in during the 1860’s by the British as indentured workers for the sugar cane plantations, many chose to remain after their 4 year contracts had ended and brought their families over from India to Durban and started their new lives as store owners and artisans. Some of the oldest remaining Indian shops and stores in Durban are in Grey Street (now Dr Yusaf Dadoo Street) complex and even today are still bustling and energetic. The street complex was made up up of different streets that harbored various trades, for example Grey Street itself was where the fashion shops were, Queen Street had the barbers, timber merchants and hardware stores while Prince Edward Street was where the jewelers had their stores. In the 1880’s the first mosque was constructed in Natal, the Juma Masjid Mosque is said to be the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere. Originally just a small brick and mortar structure, it was slowly extended over a number of years with many new rooms being built to accommodate the growing number of worshipers. Today the mosque features a mixture of different styles and is the oldest mosque in the southern hemisphere.
Some writers and activists who also lived in Grey Street are well known in South Africa and in some cases world wide, Mahatma Gandhi and Archbishop Desmond Hurley are just two of many that come to mind. One of the most interesting tours to Durban would be the Grey Street Writer’s Trail where some of Durban‘s most well known writers have either lived in the area or written about the area. Some of these writers are now participating in the “Center for the Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal)” Time of the Writer.
The Grey Street area is a prominent part of Indian history in Durban, and included important political sites like Red Square. The area also has a significant literary history, and tours can be taken through the area as part of the Grey Street Writers Trail.
www.sahistory.org.za › Places › Grey Street Complex