Shared Culture: Indian festival in South Africa


By Megha Sharma

Though located in different continents, India and South Africa have a shared culture and common message for the world.

Looking at the time line, it has been 69 years to the independence of India and 55 years to the sovereign state of South Africa. The stories of their independence come across as an exemplar of survival, hope and determination to the world. The “white man’s burden” of the savior of these lands speaks of a hidden self-fulfilling motif. However, even being geographically different, these states define a cultural synchronicity. Years ago, before the independence of India, a huge amount of passengers settled in and around the coastal areas of the place. These people went not as slaves but to work there as meager labors and with meager or no salaries. However, it turned out to be a boon for them and in the present time and age, Durban, one of the most important commercial spaces in the sub-continent, with the maximum number of Indians as land owners. Durban is the second India, so to say, outnumbering the African population. Furthermore, the entire country is inhabited by approximately 1.5 million (15 Lakh) people of Indian origins. Mahatma Gandhi too earned his “Mahatma” epithet from here, in his 21 year long and crucial stay there. This throws lights on the significant heart-rending connect and shared culture of these territories.

Mahatma Gandhi’s influence

Shared History: Experience India in South Africa

In September-October of last year (2015),  a 6 weeks long event was held in Johannesburg where South Africa explored the bounties of the Indian sub-continent in the annually celebrated festival of “Shared History”. The festival explores the contemporary art of the land and it not only includes various art forms like dance, singing etc. but it has given Yoga, a prominent place in the picture of Indian subcontinent. It was initiated in 2007 with the ideology to contribute to both the states’ cultural commonality. It runs for a month and though initiated with an interest towards the internal dynamics of traditional superstructures, it has now paved ways into fields of literature, yoga, handicrafts and all other contemporary flourishing wonders of the Indian sub-continent.  This following introductory video is a brochure to the festival.


It gives an insight into the rich and diverse culture of India and becomes a treat to watch the beautiful dancers performing on the folk traditional songs. Moreover, it observes the multifarious Indian cuisines exhibition which brings one closer to the land by uttering its essence to the world. With all these enriching episodes one is given the idea of past as a tool to perceive these boundaries as similar. It seems to be a crucial step by the Indian high commission and an arts society named “teamwork.” It is hosted in the month of October with a worldwide audience and gives sheer knowledge adding to the socio-economic relations with India.

Thus, hopefully the legacy of shared culture continues between India and South Africa.

Megha Sharma is a student at the University of Delhi. She is pursuing her masters in English and has also done her studies in German language.) Email ID: [email protected]