Natal Indian Congress

By: Mikayla Sears

What is the Natal Indian Congress?

Established in the year 1894 by Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) had aims to fight the harsh discrimination against Indians in South Africa. The negative perception of other races in South Africa led Gandhi to want to make a difference in the lived of those that were effected, and possible situations in the future. At first, Gandhi was in South Africa for reasons regarding his job as a lawyer, and began to see the mistreatment towards Natal Indians and decided it was not right for him to leave. After this realization, he established the congress, whose goals were to protect the rights and approach towards the inclusion of different cultures in the same society. Through this new establishment, the Indian community was solidified and people, including Gandhi himself, were able to relay certain instances to the government about the unfair treatment towards their culture and people and demand more rights and appreciation.
EPS 9 - Gandhi Gets To Work

Achievements of the Natal Indian Congress

This organization mainly focused on non-violent protests, a very important aspect was the influential speeches delivered by Ghandi himself. In 1906 he spoke in the township of Johannesburg talking about non-violent resistance against the discrimination of Indians. Satyagraha, or civil disobedience, was Gandhi's first campaign as a part of the NIC. After he declared this movement, it carried on for a long and grueling 7 years, which resulted in them achieving part of their goal. During this period, Gandhi and others were imprisoned for the same reason many other Africans were at the time, not abiding by laws and even burning passbooks and denying registration. The NIC and its participating members forced the government under General Jan Christiaan Smuts to make a compromise with Gandhi.

Significance and Long Term Effects

The Natal Indian Congress later came to work with many other anti-apartheid groups, many of which decided to do so to more efficiently protest the laws. This group gave the Indians who were discriminated against hope towards a more promising future. Many other groups had been created, but this one in particular was for their culture to work as one in avenging their rights. Africans were not the only ones being affected at the time, and it took everyone's support against the cause to create any positive change. Eventually, with everyone's cooperation and support, they were able to negotiate with the South African government regarding the unjust and ultimately cruel laws. Even with this success, however, apartheid wouldn't be abolished until many years to come.


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"Gandhi’s First Act of Civil Disobedience." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

"Mahatma Gandhi Is Arrested for the First Time." Anonymous. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.