Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel noted: ‘An executioner always kills twice; first, with his sword, then through forgetting.’ The same is true for indenture.
The indentured system, known disparagingly as ‘Coolitude’, was similar to Negritude. They were two sides of the same coin, the Black slave on one side and the Brown indentured on the other. Their suffering, due to their inhuman bondage, represented one of the greatest tragedies of human history.
When slavery was abolished and erased from our collective memories, UNESCO and the African States reminded us of the Slave Route. The moment has come to do the same for indenture.
It is the search for identity of the indentured that offers a possible response to the dialectics of coolitude versus nationalism. It does not involve the re-writing of history but its re-interpretation.
Identity in this case served as a saviour. The quest for identity continues in one form or the other. When it is not denied, it flourishes into India’s great diaspora. When banished into the night, it results in conflict and war.