The Victoria street market in Durban is a rich historical site that reflects the struggles of a poor community striving for their own identity and a burning need to make ends to meet to survive in new pasture market currently stands strong in the central business district of Durban, and is an epic in the Indian community as it serves as a reminder of a disadvantaged community that was determined to survive against all odds. The market was a seed sown by the Indian indentured labourers that had completed their indenture ship and had a choice of either going back to India, or to seek employment, or create their own means employment. The market was seen as transition from farming to industrial employment. Having experience from an agricultural sector their best option to survive was growing fruit and vegetables and selling them on the streets of Durban.
Initially they used the Grey Street Mosque to trade but as the number of traders grew from both Hindu and Muslim backgrounds they moved to the streets. The atmosphere was a buzzing environment of a rush, with horse drawn carts and people sitting on the streets of Durban, attracting potential customers. They had to pay a daily rental fee to Durban town council and because it was unaffordable to travel back and forth from home they were forced to sleep on the pavements or seek shelters at a nearby temples. A typical market day started at 4am and ended at 6pm. Farmers reached the market as early as 2 am to secure a trading place. There was no access to toilets and there was no protection from extreme weather conditions. In 1910, the Indian market was formally built by the municipal in Victoria Street it was also known as the Top Market or Squatter Market. The traders also sold groceries, fish, spices and crafts as part of their trade.
The traders also experienced conflicts amongst themselves as the squatters on the street was seen as a hindrance to the stall holders inside the building complaining the squatters was causing pollution and was a threat to their sales. In 1934, the Durban Town Council prohibited the sale of cooked food to accommodate restaurants in the market building. The squatter traders were members of the Indian Agricultural Association, Natal Farm Association and from the towns of Springfield, Newlands and Clairwood it was a business hub, but the traders were seen as a threat as they were selling cheaper commodities that meant other business were running losses. The squatters also caused traffic congestion, and they were also destroying the cemetery that were near them. The Durban Town Council built a wall which the squatter traders had to pay the costs of. In 1970, the Durban City Council were set to build a freeway across the market which was opposed by the traders who protested, however in 1973 a fire destroyed the market and although the reason behind the fire was a drunk street man, the traders viewed it as a sabotage. The market was reconstructed and its still thriving strong as ever with a blend of Indian spices and African craft.
IsiZulu Summary: IVictoria Market yaseThekwini
IVictoria Market yaseThekwini eyaziwa ngokuthi kuseMakethe ingenye yezindawo ezinomlando omkhulu wabantu ababezama ukwenza impilo yabo ibengcono ngamabhizinisi. Lendawo yayisetshenziswa kakhulu ngabomdabu waseNdiya eyaqalwa yibo ngeminyaka engama 150 edlule ngesikhathi befika eNingizimu Afrika ngemuva kokuqeda kwabo isikhathi sokusebenzela abalimi ababebaqashile. Ngemuva kokusebenza iningi laziqalela izindawo zawo zokulima badayisa emigwaqeni eminingi yaseThekwini. Besaqala babesebenzisa iMosque ekuGrey Street kodwa kwathi ngokuhamba kwesikhathi amaHindu namaSulumane abamaningi kakhulu ayesedayisa baqala basabalaka nemigwaqo.
Kuthiwa abanye babedayisela ezinqoleni ezazidonswa ngamahhashi abanye bedayisela khona emgwaqeni ngokundlala phansi konke ababekudayisa. Kwakunemali eyayikhokhwa zonke izinsuku ngabadayisi beyikhokhela umkhandlu wedolobha. Iningi labadayisi lalingakwazi ukubuyela emakhaya zonke izinsuku ngenxa yamanani aphezulu ezinto zokuhamba okwakubenza balale khona emigwaqeni noma emathempelini aseduze. Umsebenzi wabo wawuqala ngehora lesine ekuseni uphele ngelesithupha ntambama. Abadayisi babevuka kakhulu abanye bafike ngehora lesibili ekuseni ukuze bathole indawo yokudayisa ekahle neseduze kwabantu abadlulayo. Ngonyaka wama 1910 umkhandlu wedolobha leTheku wakha imakethe kuVictoria Street eyayaziwa ngokuthi yiTop Market noma iSquatter Market. Kwakudayiswa izinto ezahlukene njengokudla kwasendlini, ufishi, izipayisi kanye nemisebenzi yezandla.
Kwabakhona nokungezwani phakathi kwabadayisi ngoba babehlukene kabili abanye bedayisela ngaphakathi ebhilidini elalakhiwe abanye bedayisa ngaphandle ngokungemvume. Ngonyaka wama 1934, umkhandlu weTheku wakuvimba ukudayiswa kokudla okuphekiwe ngaphandle kwemakethe. Abadayisi ababaziwa njengama Squatters babengaphansi kwenhlangano i-Indian Agricultural Association kanye ne Natal Farm Association besuka ezindaweni zase Springfield, Newlands kanye nase Clairwood. Kuningi abanye abadayisi ababekhala ngakho ngalaba njengokungcolisa idolobha, ukudayisa ngamanani aphansi kakhulu kanye nokuvimbela ukuhamba kwezimoto kanye nokulimaza amathuna akhiwe endaweni eseduze nalemakethe. Umkhandlu weTheku wakha udonga olude ukuvikela amathuna bonke abadayisi baphoqeleka ukuthi bakhokhele ukwakhiwa kwaloludonga. Ngonyaka wama 1970 umkhandlu kwakufanele wakhe umgwaqo omkhulu onqamula lapho kwakukhona imakethe kodwa abadayisi abayivumanga leyo kwathi ngonyaka wama 1973 imakethe yacekelekela phansi ngumlilo okuthiwa wabangwa yindoda eyayiphuzile kodwa abadayisi bakuthatha lokhu njengendlela yokubasusa. Yakhiwa kabusha imakethe nanamuhla isamile lapho.
Reference: The Post, 16 November 2010. Page 100