This timeline also includes important contextual information please refer to the contents on the right to view different decades.
- The Natal Legislative Council passes Law 14 of 1859 allowing the Government to import labour from India.
- 16 November, The first batch of indentured labourers arrives in Natal from India to work in the colony in the sugar plantations and as domestic workers.
- Diamonds are discovered in the Northern Cape.
- The first Free or Passenger Indians, (people who pay their own fare to the colonies) arrive in Natal as traders and work seekers. The majority of the Passenger Indians are young Muslim Memons, Vhora’s from Gujarat and a sprinkling of Gujarati Hindus.
- The first group of Indians to move into the interior are ex-indentured workers followed by Muslim traders. The earliest known trader moves to Pretoria, the capital of the fledgling Boer Republic, in the late 1870’s.
- The discovery of diamonds in the Northern Cape in 1867 and gold in the Witwatersrand marks the radical transformation of Southern Africa and in particular the Witwatersrand.
- The region’s population dramatically increases and towns such as Johannesburg grow with the mass influx of European and Asian immigrants and work seekers from Southern Africa.
- The Boer Republics pass a number of laws which restrict the rights of Indian, Coloureds, Chinese and Africans – the principle is entrenched that the Republics are the preserve of white settler populations. The rights are not extended to Uitlanders (foreigners).
- Mohamed Momoojee Dadoo is born in the small town of Kholvad, on the south banks of the Tapi River, a few miles outside the ancient Gujarat city of Surat, India
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a young, London-trained, Indian barrister- at-law, arrives in Durban.
- June 28, The Natal legislature plans to introduce the Indian Franchise Bill aimed at disenfranchising Indians. Nearly 500 Indians sign a petition addressed to the Natal Legislative Assembly against the Bill
- August 22 , The Natal merchant class launches the Natal Indian Congress. Abdoola Hajee Adam Jhaveri is elected its first President and MK Gandhi, the Natal Indian Congress’s first Secretary.
- At the age of 16, Mahomed Momoojee Dadoo arrives in South Africa. A relative, AE Chotabhai, offers the young man employment in a store in the small mining town of Klerksdorp, on the West Rand. The young man is part of a growing number of young men and a few families that have settled in the Transvaal Republic - the majority of whom settle in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
- August 8, Indians lose a test case in the Transvaal High Court, which rules that the “Gold Act”, prohibits Asiatics from trading in mining areas and restricts both their residential and trading rights to locations set aside for Asiatics.
- October 11, The outbreak of the South African War, the Anglo-Boer War, forces the majority of Indian, Chinese and other “British subjects” to flee the Transvaal. Mahomed Momoojee Dadoo returns to India, to await the outcome of the War raging in South Africa. In India, he marries Fatima Wadee, the daughter of a relative from Kholvad.