The Bangladesh Market in Chatsworth, Durban

Chatsworth is a predominantly Indian suburb situated to the south of Durban. The Bangladesh Market in Chatsworth is a market established in the early 1980s from the plight of a disadvantaged community that faced social, political and economic challenges, hence to understand the history of the market is to understand the political history in context. In the 1980s the government gave the Indian and Coloured population a say in parliament but limited these races in politics, thus various organisations were formed to provide for the needs of the people in their community using non political means. The Chatsworth Coordinating Council was one such organisation started to provide social services and their main concern was the senior citizens of Chatsworth.

The formation of the market

The Chatsworth community regularly did their shopping at the big retail stores like Checkers. And these retail stores sold their fresh fruit and vegetables at reduced costs to the pensioners on Wednesdays, which was known as Pensioners Day. When it was suddenly stopped, the pensioners became discouraged as now the prices of fresh fruit and vegetables were unaffordable to them. Then the Chatsworth Coordinating Council stepped and tried to intervene to assist these helpless senior citizens but to no avail. The senior citizens decided to take their own measures and responded to the new decision by holding a large demonstration. They came together as a community and fought for a common goal and they walked 5km in a protest but it went unseen as well as their demands were still not met.

The Hare Krishna Temple in Chatsworth, close to the vicinity of Checkers provided once a week at first a generous donation of fruit and vegetables. The citizens were now selling these fruit and vegetables to members in their community and then it was realised that the demand extended to more people than just the senior citizens of the community. The Hare Krishna Temple then offered them a small portion of land at their premises to directly trade these fresh fruit and vegetables to the public so they started their own market supplying the public directly without a middle man. The municipality then moved them to the current location of the Bangladesh Market in Westcliff, Chatsworth and named it after the Bangladesh flats that were located near it.

The market today

The market is now owned by the municipality but maintained by the community members. Today the market stands booming with hundreds of different products from suppliers and stall owners coming from as far as Stanger and Verulam, the north of Durban. It is opened on weekends, on Friday and Saturday mornings till noon to cater for the working class people and the prices of the commodities are reasonable and affordable. There are a wide range of products and services that are supplied at the market, ranging from food, clothing to repairs. The market is situated close to public transport, so it is convenient and there is also a parking area for customers. They walk around the different stalls and shop according to their own choices. The atmosphere is vibrant as people shout out to attract potential customers. The market is multiracial and a result of history that we should be proud of.

By: Yoveshine Pillay

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