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KwaZulu-Natal

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Nelson Mandela

TThe Inanda Heritage Route explores the often overlooked area on Inanda, north of Durban. Despite its apparent obscurity, this region has historical roots that run deep, as a place that experienced first-hand the injustices of apartheid, was the home of passive resistance and became an icon of the freedom struggle.

Did You Know?
IInanda Heritage Route features the original press on which Gandhi's Opinion liberation newspaper was printed.

TThe Inanda Heritage Route takes in some of the most important, albeit little-known, historical sites of Durban. Winding its way through the Inanda Valley, it provides a snapshot of critical South African history as well as, perhaps surprisingly, India's past.

IInanda's recent history dates back to the early 1800s, when KwaZulu-Natal was a Boer Republic. It was a farm then, passing hands several times as the Boers left and the British arrived, and then when African and Indian farmers came here to farm sugar cane.

But it was the events that unfolded at the turn of the century that shaped its future. First Mahatma Gandhi, then a lawyer, arrived in the region to represent an Indian client. After being thrown off a train for sitting in a "whites only" section, Gandhi stayed on here and started his passive resistance movement.

During 1960s, Inanda became home to the thousands of people displaced from urban areas under apartheid laws. It quickly grew into a shanty town and then, as segregation laws took further hold, a dense informal settlement that was later the site of intense political violence.

In 1994, Nelson Mandela cast his vote in South Africa's first democratic elections at Inanda's Ohlange Institute, fitting given that the first president of the African National Congress, Dr. John L. Dube, established this school in 1901.

It's this wealth of history that you can explore on the Inanda Heritage Route. The trail starts in Phoenix Settlement, established in 1904 by Gandhi. Here you can see Gandhi's house and his International Printing Press and Museum. Next it moves on to the Ohlange Institute, Dube's house – a national monument – and his grave.

A second educational institution on the trail is Inanda Seminary, the first secondary school for African girls. Finally, the route stops at Ebuhleni with a look at the elaborate rituals of the Shembe Church.

Combined with a visit to the picturesque Inanda Dam nearby, this makes for a fascinating day outing.

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