By Goolam Vahed, Thembisa Waetjen
For many years, South Africans intending to make the proper biryani have grew to become to Indian Delights, the bestselling cookbook produced by means of Zuleikha Mayat and the Women’s Cultural workforce. this is often the tale of the ladies in the back of the recipes, an account that brings to lifestyles the altering, gendered worlds of Muslim girls in 20th-century Durban. via a mix of scholarly rigor and compelling biography, this booklet unearths how a gaggle of girls who have been officially excluded from either political and common energy however cast a colourful citizenship and public existence for themselves. in the course of unfolding international and native transformation—apartheid, feminism, doctrinal shifts in Islam—the participants of the Women’s Cultural workforce have been themselves brokers of switch, not just in the neighborhood groups that benefited from their expert and sundry labors, but additionally within the making of South African modernity.
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Extra resources for Gender, Modernity & Indian Delights: The Women's Cultural Group of Durban, 1954-2010
South Africa, Fahmida poetically asserted, was like ‘a bottle of chow-chow pickle’ – a spicy, domestic concoction in which something new is made out of diverse ingredients (onions, chilli peppers, celery, vinegar, salt, sugar, and even cabbage, garlic, and carrots). It was cultural mixing and exchange that made the nation a rich and interesting place to live. In a series of columns written in June 1957, as the Group Areas Act began to take effect, Fahmida fancies herself on a psychologist’s couch and describes a troubling nightmare: in her dream, a worried gentleman who had willingly moved into the new ‘Indian Group Area’ of Lenasia gave her a warning: Do not go and reside in any of the areas set aside for your own group or you will rue the day as surely as I do, both economically and socially.
In June 1956, now a resident of Durban, she was invited by MI Meer to write a weekly column for the newspaper Indian Views. For six years, under the heading ‘Fahmida’s World’, subscribers all over southern Africa read Zuleikha’s column. The name ‘Fahmida’ means ‘intelligent’ or ‘wise’ in Persian, and Zuleikha thinks she ‘must have read an Urdu novel around that time. ’ Writing under her nom de plume, she developed an outspoken public voice. Despite the subtitle ‘Mainly for Women’ that an editor added a few years later, Zuleikha did not think of ‘Fahmida’s World’ as an exclusively women’s space.
Za Modernity in mid-20th-century Durban was born through a mix of influences and traditions that did not easily correspond with the segregationist vision of town planners. Official racial classifications concealed the commonalities and differences that shaped life for most Durbanites. The designation ‘Indian’ masked a multitude of identities. People from the Asian subcontinent had arrived in southern Africa in two broad streams. Just over 152 000 came as indentured migrants between 1860 and 1911 to work on Natal’s sugar plantations, railways and coalmines.