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Historia

On-line version ISSN 2309-8392

Abstract

ITZKIN, Eric. The Indian war memorial: National memory and selective forgetting - Connecting public histories . Historia [online]. 2009, vol.54, n.1, pp. 147-158. ISSN 2309-8392.

The article uncovers the neglected history of the War Memorial commemorating thousands of Indian Army soldiers involved as non-combatants in the Anglo-Boer War. Erected in 1902, the monument in Observatory, Johannesburg, overlooks the site of a large remount camp staffed by Indians. Excluded from official accounts of the time which viewed the conflict as a "white man's war", the Indian auxiliaries have likewise been overlooked in more recent historiography aimed at creating a more inclusive view of the War. Revisionist scholarship focused on African involvement in the conflict, while the role of the Indian auxiliaries remains largely forgotten. By comparison, the role of Gandhi's Stretcher-Bearer Corps in the War is well known. Commemorations to mark the centenary of the War, although intended as an inclusive anniversary, failed to recover the public memory of these auxiliaries. Reviving their memory may not fit into a narrow nation-building concept, but is important to acknowledge the varied, transnational elements which have shaped South Africa's past. After the War, most of the Indian soldiers returned to India. Only a few of these veterans remained in South Africa, notably including Captain Nawab Khan who joined Gandhi's Satyagraha movement.

Keywords : Anglo-Boer War; Anglo-Boer War Centenary; Captain Nawab Khan; Indian Army auxiliaries; Indian auxiliaries; Indian War Memorial; international contingents; Johannesburg; military history; Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; monuments and memorials; Natal Indian Ambulance Corps; Observatory; remount camps; South African War; war memorials.

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