Thillaiyadi Valliammai

Thillaiyadi Valliammai (22 February 1898 - 22 February 1914) was a South African Tamil woman who worked with Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa .During her early years she developed her nonviolent methods in  South Africa fighting its  apartheid regime.

She was born to R. Munuswamy Mudaliar and Mangalam, a young immigrant couple from a small village called Thillaiyadi in Nagapattinam .They migrated from India to South Africa . Since her mother Janaki is from Thillaiyadi in Tamil Nadu, her daughter Valliammai came to be popularly called Thillaiyadi Valliammai. Valliammai had never been to India. She grew in an surroundings that was rather unfriendly to Indians.

 According to South African law 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. Doubts regarding the birthright arose. Gandhi began his opposition. Young Valliammai joined her mother in the march by women from Transvall 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. (Valliamma’s father, R. Munuswamy Mudaliar, owner of a fruit and vegetable shop in Johannesburg and a satyagrahi in the Transvaal, was recovering from an operation). 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.


Mar 04, 2014
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