City of Durban, South Africa

City of Durban, South Africa

It was on Christmas day of 1497 that a ship under the command of a Portuguese navigator, Vasco de Gama, came accross a large natural harbour on the lower coast of Africa; which the sailors named Rio de Natal.

Durban City
Portuguese influence in Natal did not extend much beyond naming it. For the most part the only Portuguese sailors who had anything to with the territory were the crews of shipwrecked vessels. This was also common with the English sailors

The Port of Natal soon bacame valued as a place for the vessels to seek shelter and rest on the shore; as the indiginous population were friendly. However, it took 300 years before any serious attempt was undertaked to settle there. In 1824 Henry Francis Fynn and 5 others arrived in the "Julia" to prepare the way for the coming visit of Luitentant Francis George Farewell and a party of 26 prospective settlers. The venture was not a great success as most of the settlers decided not to stay; however Farewell and Fynn were successful in reaching amical agreements with the Zulu king Shaka, which was no easy feat as the king was feared and respected. The two English officers managed to secure the "cession" of Port Natal and it's environs.

View if Indian Influences in Durban
A decade later the local settlers had indeed grown sufficiently to form a civic community, which was named D'Urban after the current govenor of the Cape; Sir Benjamin D'Urban. Durban's growth accelerated around the mid-1800's when the Natal was annexed to the Cape Colony. Immigrants arrived from Britain soon the white population stood at 1200. The first South African railway (1860) and the efforts to dredge the harbour (end of century) accelerated development; and today Durban is the 3rd largest city in South Africa, and the 3rd busiest harbour on the continent.

In the 1860's it was found that the Zulu people indigenous to Natal were unwilling to work on the newly-established sugar plantations. So, many Indian workers, mostly Hindu, were imported under contract. Later some left, but most settled, and after this many Muslim Indians arrived paying their own passage, all of these people forming the nucleus of a wealthy trading community. Most of the Indians in South Africa today live in and around Durban.