The Ethekwini Municipality, Durban, will sign a memorandum of understanding with Chennai Corporation for promoting links on various fronts between both the local bodies.
The formalities have already been worked out and the MoU will be signed at Chennai in January 2010, Councillor Logie Naidoo, Deputy Mayor of the Ethekwini Municipality told The Hindu here recently.
The MoU was aimed at promoting the IT industry, cultural, business and sports links.
Mr. Naidoo said he visited Chennai Corporaton twice in the recent past, the last trip in January 2009, to finalise the MoU. He had also called on Deputy Chief Minister M. K. Stalin. A delegation of the Chennai Corporation is expected to visit Durban after the signing of the MoU, he said.
Mr. Naidoo traces his ancestry to North Arcot district of Tamil Nadu. He said a large number of labour workers from Tamil Nadu had come down to South Africa to work in the cane farms in and around Durban in the 1860s. The MoU will also pave way for the Tamils residing in Durban to re-establish contacts with their relatives. “Fourth and fifth generation Tamils residing here have lost their links with their roots in Tamil Nadu and are on the look out for their relatives. However they visit various places in India often to offer prayers and see tourist spots,” Mr Naidoo said. The deputy Mayor said he too has planned to visit Tamil Nadu next year to search for his relatives with the help of ship documents handed down over generations.
Mr. Naidoo observed that many IT companies and several other firms from Tamil Nadu already have their branches in Durban. Ramco System, a Chennai based IT firm and the Murugappa Group for instance. Apollo tyres have purchased Dunlop Tyres, a South African company.
According to Naidoo, Tamil films and actors are very popular in South Africa, particularly in Durban. He said movies have helped Tamils stay in touch with the language and culture. "There are many important and eye catching locations in South Africa and particularly in and around Durban. I want the Tamil film industry to shoot the movies here,'' Mr. Naidoo added.