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From South Africa to an Indian village

A. Subramani



A NOSTALGIC TRIP: Radhakrishna Padayachi, Deputy Minister for Communication, Republic of South Africa, addressing a meeting in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

CHENNAI: Radhakrishna Padayachi, South Africa's Deputy Minister for Communication, is determined to visit his ancestral village, Ooramangalam, in a district neighbouring Chennai. The Afro-Indian is on his third visit to India.

At a dinner meeting organised by the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) here on Thursday, Mr. Padayachi said he learnt about his family history and lineage from his 100-year-old aunt.

He described his great grandfather's decision to settle in the "Dark Continent" as "brave," and saluted his wisdom and courage, which led to his family's present exalted position. His parents were born in South Africa and his grandparents in Mauritius.

Taking pride in his name, Mr. Padayachi recalled how the Apartheid regime brainwashed South Africans and forced them to assume duplicate names. "We were ashamed of our names," he said, adding that he was better known as Roy till he became a member of the National Cabinet.

Though Mr. Padayachi said his lineage lent an emotional touch to his current visit, he believed in "Accept your home in Africa, and make Africa your home."

Direct flights

The Minister said the two Governments should consolidate their friendship further and expand it to newer trade horizons. He identified information technology, cement, agro food processing and films as areas having huge trade potential. Mr. Padayachi said opening a trade office of South African airlines in Chennai and having direct flights to Johannesburg were high on their agenda.

The SICCI president, S. Ramanathan, stressed the need for accelerating trade ties. The focus should be on energy, logistics and tourism. The Chamber would serve as a nodal agency for the growth of the Indo-South African Friendship Society.

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