Malayalees in South Africa

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The Malayalees in South Africa originate from Kerala in South India and get their name from the Malayalam language that they speak. This identity is basically linguistic and in recent years has evolved to cover those immigrants with Malayalee backgrounds and who may retain the cultural traditions prevalent among the group even if they cannot speak or do not prefer to speak the language on a regular basis. Even though the majority of the Malayalees in South Africa can be traced back to Kerala, there are quite a few people all over India, Middle East, North America and Europe who hail from that background, but have never had their roots in Kerala.

It is amazing to note that as far back as 2001 there was a record 30,803,747 Malayalam speaking population in Kerala, which makes up 96.7% of the total state population. Therefore the word Keralite is used in the same context as Malayali.  They are often known as Mallu as a nickname used by other people in an informal manner mainly because the original term is difficult to pronounce.

The world Malayali originates from a combination of two words from the native language in which mala means mountain and alam means the land beside the mountain. So therefore the population that is found settled beyond the Western Ghats in India is called by that name.

Global Distribution and Population

In India the Malyalees are spread in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra along with Lakshadweep.  They are known to speak the standard dialects but some of them also speak in the derivative dialect, which is the Yerava dialect. A large quantity of the population has moved to Bombay, Madras, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad along with Pune. There are large populations in the United Arab Emirates. Frequently they are service providers in that region along with the rest of the Middle East. The group is also found in significant numbers in North America and Europe. Canada also has a small population of immigrants who have listed Malayalam as their native language. In Australia a few thousand Malayalee have been recorded in the census along with New Zealand and Fiji.

The Gulf region especially Dubai has the largest diaspora of Malayalee apart from those found in the Indian subcontinent. In Africa there is a special committee that works for the unity of Malayalees and provides them proper representation. The head office is located in South Africa while offshoots are located in Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda and parts of North Africa. The World Malayali Council is set out to preserve the culture and represent its people in different parts of the world.

In fact, the social utility network Facebook also provides a distinct platform for Malayalee populations across South Africa to communicate with each other. The group is known for its strong interdependence and unity. Each person who migrates and settles successfully in a hospitable environment makes sure to help to settle other capable relatives and friends from Kerala and to aid them in getting established in a new country.

All forms of support from housing, lodging, logistics and advice are provided to the newbies. The main reason for the vast spread of Malayalees in South Africa and other parts of the world is attributed to this sense of each one contributing to the uplifting of the other.

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