Poonoosamy Ruthnam Pather


 Synopsis: Secretary of the Aryan Young Men's Progressive Association and the Hindu-Tamil Institute, served on the Durban Indian Child Welfare Society and the Natal Indian Council for Child Welfare, joint secretary of the NIC, founding member of the Colo Date of birth: 1895Location of birth: MauritiusDate of death: 27 January 1970(PR) was born in Mauritius in 1895.  His grandfather settled in that country after emigrating from Tanjore in India in the 1840s. PR's father was born in Mauritius and his mother was a Mauritian citizen. His father made his first trip to Natal in 1891 and worked as a jeweller in Durban for a few years before returning to Mauritius. PR along with his parents and brother, PA Pather immigrated to South Africa in 1903. The family moved to Elandslaagte, Northern Natal, the centre of coal mining, where they felt that there would be better opportunities.


PR attended Primary School here and later completed his Secondary Schooling in Pietermaritzburg, in a private school run by an Indo-European teacher.


While still a schoolboy in Pietermaritzburg, PR began to take a strong interest in public affairs. He was made secretary of the Aryan Young Men's Progressive Association, an organisation that was to later establish the Aryan Benevolent Home in Pietermaritzburg.  At the age of 19, he was also appointed secretary of the Young Men's Vedic Society, a position that he was to hold for twelve years. Around the same time he was appointed secretary of The Hindu-Tamil Institute.


PR Pather then came to Durban to complete his matriculation, which he did but was prevented from fulfilling his aim to study law due to financial constraints. He began work for a law firm where he gained considerable experience and a thorough working knowledge of the legal establishment. Not long after that he left the firm and began his own estate agency in Durban. In 1920 he married the daughter of a prominent jeweller who was also closely involved in community affairs especially with religious and cultural bodies.


This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011


Pioneers of NTVS