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Thursday, February 22, 2018

South Africa ~ not T20 news - remembering Thillaiyadi Valliyammai

Indian team has been on a surge and fans have been happy following the team’s winning performance in South Africa, but at Centurion it was a different tale.  First Junior Dala priced out Rohit & Kohli cheaply ~ then came a grand 98 run partnership between Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni that set up a target of 189.

Rohit Sharma, who hasn't been in the best of form since his arrival in South Africa, had another forgettable show with the bat as he was dismissed for a first-ball duck  by Junior Dala.   Rohit now has maximum ducks by an Indian batsman in T20 internationals. Prior to the match, he was jointly in the first place along with Ashish Nehra and Yusuf Pathan, who all have scored three golden ducks each in their T20I careers. ~ and in his 3rd over Chahal was torn apart by  JP Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen, who as hit for 23.  Yuzvendra Chahal conceded 64 runs in his four overs.

The worst bowling performance in T2oI  is by BJ McCarthy playing for Ireland against Afghanistan giving 4-0-69-0.  The next 64 has the names of Kyle Abbot, James Anderson, Sanath Jayasuriya, A Tye, BM Wheeler and Yuz  Chahal ~ while all of them gave 64 in 4 overs, Wheeler had figures of 3.1-0-64-0.

Whilst most of you would have read the match report on this day – 22nd Feb – not sure whether you remember to connect this day (South Africa to a small village in Tamil Nadu and a frail woman who died 103 years ago !)  If not read on – connecting the collection of these sarees to that woman – it is a photo taken at Coo-optex,  the Tamilnadu Handloom weavers’ cooperative society. 

This little village  has connection with Gandhiji … hundreds of people from here had gone gone to South Africa in the early 20th Century both as indentured and free labour. Several of them had been deported back after that first Satyagraha movement Gandhiji had launched while in South Africa ~ and one among them was a woman (rather a young girl) who lived for only 16 years.  Tharangambadi also known as Tranqubar is in Nagapattinam from where indentured labour from India, mostly Tamil and Telugu peasantry, left fromMadras aboard the S.S.Truro.

22nd February marks the death anniversary of  Thillayadi Valliammai, the revolutionary, famed to have inspired Mahatma Gandhi in his fight against colonial rule.  Born to Mangalam and Muthusamy Mudaliar, Valliammai was initiated into political struggle by Gandhi, when the colonial State of South Africa declared null and void all marriages forged outside of the South African law or Church law. Thousands of marriages were annulled. Valliammai marched with her mother from Transvaal to Natal protesting against the unjust laws. Valliammai also participated with her mother in protests against exorbitant taxes levied against workers. They were arrested and sentenced to three months of hard labour.

It is recorded that when Gandhi visited a fragile and ill Valliammai shortly after her release, the young girl vowed to be arrested any number of times to carry on the fight for people’s rights. Gandhi cited her as someone who inspired him to stay the course in the fight for equality in South Africa. But the girl’s physical health did not match her mental strength. Shortly after her release, Valliammai, all of 16 years, died on February 22, 1914.

Popularly called Thillaiyadi Valliammai, she had never been to her native village or for that matter to  India. She grew in an environment that was rather hostile to Indians.

A law had been passed that any marriage that is not according to the Church or according to the marriage law of South Africa would be held null and void, which disproportionately affected the Indian community in that country.  Young Valliammai joined her mother in the march by women from Transvaal to Natal – which was not legally permitted without passes. Valliamma, and her mother Mangalam, joined the second batch of Transvaal women who went to Natal in October 1913 to explain the inequity of the three pound tax to the workers and persuade them to strike. They visited different centres and addressed meetings. They were sentenced in December to three months with hard labour, and sent to the Maritzburg prison. Valliamma fell ill soon after her conviction, but refused an offer of early release by the prison authorities. She died shortly after release, on 22 February 1914.

Gandhi wrote in Satyagraha in South Africa about his meeting with Vallammai when she was emaciated and terribly ill.  She reportedly expressed her strength to fight, go to jail again, and even die fighting for the cause.  It is reported that Gandhi spoke about her in his meetings in Marina beach and also spoke at Wenlock park near Marina ground, overlooking the Triplicane MRTS station.

Now a Memorial hall including Public liabrary stands at the Thillaiyadi village. A commemorative stamp on her was released in Dec 2008. The main showroom of Cooptex at Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai – is named after ‘Thillaiyadi Valliammai’………

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Feb 2018.

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