07 September 2016
Thillaiyadi Valliammai 31.12.2008
Thillaiyadi Valliammai (22 February 1898 - 22 February 1914) was a South African Tamil woman who worked with Mahatma Gandhi in her early years when he developed his nonviolent methods in South Africa fighting its apartheid regime.
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.
Gandhi wrote in Satyagraha in South Africa:
“Valliamma R. Munuswami Mudaliar was a young girl of Johannesburg only sixteen years of age. She was confined to bed when I saw her. As she was a tall girl, her emaciated body was a terrible thing to behold.
‘Valliamma, you do not repent of your having gone to jail?’ I asked.
‘Repent? I am even now ready to go to jail again if I am arrested,’ said Valliamma.
“But what if it results in your death?’ I pursued.
‘I do not mind it. Who would not love to die for one’s motherland?’ was the reply.