Inanda’s recent history dates back to the early 1800s, when KwaZulu Natal was a Boer Republic. It was a farm then, which passed hands several times as the Boers left and the British arrived, and then when African and Indian farmers came here to farm sugar cane.
But it was the events that unfolded at the turn of the century that shaped its future. First Mahatma Gandhi, then a lawyer, arrived in the region to represent an Indian client. After being thrown off a train for sitting in a “whites only” section, Gandhi stayed on here and started his passive resistance movement.
Then, in the 1960s, Inanda became home to the thousands of people displaced from urban areas under apartheid laws. It quickly grew into a shanty town and then, as segregation laws took further hold, a dense informal settlement that was later the site of intense political violence.
In 1994, Inanda’s outlook changed as democracy was born in South Africa. To mark the occasion, Nelson Mandela cast his vote in this historic election at Inanda’s Ohlange Institute, fitting given that the first-ever president of the African National Congress (ANC), Dr. John L. Dube, established this school in 1901.
It’s this wealth of history that you can explore on the Inanda Heritage Route. The trail starts in Phoenix Settlement, established in 1904 by Gandhi. Here you can see Gandhi’s house, and his International Printing Press and Museum. Next it moves on to the Ohlange Institute, Dube’s house – a national monument – and his grave.
A second educational institution on the trail is Inanda Seminary, the first secondary school for African girls and one of the oldest in South Africa. Finally the route stops at Ebuhleni with a look at the elaborate rituals of the Shembe Church.
Combined with a visit to the picturesque Inanda Dam nearby, this makes for a fascinating day outing.