One Indian’s Kenyan Nationalism

If you are looking for an alternative take on Kenya’s Indian community, speak to Zahid Rajan, editor of Awaaz, a magazine focusing on historical, political, and cultural issues in the South Asian community in East Africa. The local Indian community traces its roots to the late nineteenth century laborers imported by the British to build the Uganda Railway and grow sugarcane and to the generations of traders who settled along the Indian Ocean coast in Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and other port towns. The Indian community quickly prospered and became managers instead of laborers (the current issue of Awaaz has a great article on the cultural dynamics that promoted their rapid success). In short order, Indians built businesses, hired black Kenyans to do the work, and banked their considerable profits.

issue_cover_oct_dec2006.jpg

Today, the community in Kenya is perceived, not without justification, as wealthy and aloof. Rajan is critical of what he sees as the community’s lack of engagement with Kenya’s many challenges. ““The South Asian diaspora in Kenya is completely nonpolitical,”” he says. ““It stays behind its security fences in [the Nairobi suburb of] Parklands.””

Historically, Indians were engaged at all levels, leading labor unions, participating in the struggle against British colonialism, and building schools and hospitals, but that civic drive was sapped somewhere along the way.

Rajan attributes the Indian withdrawal from politics to three factors: the “Kenyanization” programs of the late 1960s that redistributed land, awarded contracts and licenses and reserved government jobs for black Africans; Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972; and a failed coup attempt against Kenya’s president, Daniel arap Moi, in 1982. Fighting during that conflict resulted in significant destruction in downtown Nairobi, where many Indians ran businesses.

“”I know Indians who have never been back to the city center,”” he says.Rajan sees the lack of engagement as a real problem for the community, something that holds back Kenya’s development as a nation. Kenya is maturing politically, but Indians–a significant component of Kenya’s middle class–are not part of the process. Multi-party elections were introduced in 1992, with Moi’s 24-year presidency coming to an end in 2002. Under his successor, Rajan says, “the whole political environment has changed: people protest, there are civil actions. “President Kibaki has made lots of promises but failed to deliver. Kenyans have the right to hold him accountable.””

“”Indians are willing to build businesses and fund charities,”” Rajan says, ““but they won’t contribute money to opposition parties. Indians are politically active in the US and UK but not here.””

He cites “reverse racism” as another cause: ““It is somehow not acceptable to struggle against black leadership.””

Awaaz magazine has become active in national politics. It began as a newsletter for the Eastern Action Club of Africa, a forum for business people to speak out against racism and unfair business practices after multi-party democracy was established in 1992. Rajan was a printer by training and worked in advertising, so he knew something about crafting a message and designing a media product.

Awaaz has a multi-racial oversight board and strives to be non-communal, exploring diaspora issues but only in the national context. Rajan says the magazine is thought to be “too controversial” and “too political” by Kenya’s business elite, who refuse to support it financially.

The magazine sponsors an Asian-African cultural event called the Samosa Festival (which like all good Indian endeavors is an acronym: South Asian Mosaic Of Society and the Arts). It is also a partner with the Kenya Human Rights Commission on a campaign for the recognition of the Mau Mau movement, the eight-year insurgency that helped win Kenya its freedom from Britain.

Awaaz is a family affair, deeply rooted in Kenyan history. Rajan’s partner in these efforts, and in life, is Zarina Patel, writer, artist, human rights and race relations activist, environmentalist and campaigner for social justice. She is also the granddaughter (and biographer) of A.M. Jeevanjee, the entrepreneur in colonial Kenya who founded the African Standard newspaper in 1902 (now the East African Standard) and the East African Indian National Congress in 1914. There’s a park in downtown Nairobi named for him. Patel also serves as an editor of Awaaz.

Rajan sees Awaaz as a Kenyan nationalist enterprise, targeting the Indian community, though it attracts intellectuals throughout Africa and Europe. It is especially keen to highlight the contributions of South Asians to the development of East Africa.

Rajan laments that Kenya’s Indians are not more engaged: ““Indians are global citizens. People here are a hundred years behind.””

Images by Preston Merchant

IMG_6412.jpg Zahid Rajan with posters from a minority rights campaign he worked on with the Eastern Action Club of Africa

IMG_6395.jpg Zarina Patel

48 thoughts on “One Indian’s Kenyan Nationalism

  1. Preston;great post.The AWAAZ article was interesting (almost read like a SM post on the model minority)like the author,I would also like to see more academic work on the hows and whys. I’ve read Amy Chau’s World on Fire; I think you’ve noted that book in one of your post’s. She makes some pointed remarks about unfettered capitalism, the idea of anyone being able to make it- and America’s own self belief and how that would quickly change if Bill Gates and several others of his economic stature ‘at the top’ belonged to some visibly ‘other’ group that held itself apart from the main group. From a recent topic on this blog about [South Asian vs. "American" names]— it think we all realize that resentments can faster in the richest country in the world , even in the “dominant” group when they feel left out or ignored. This is not only an issue in the developing world.

  2. Preston, thanks…when the old Awaaz link stopped working, I stopped reading the mag, so I’m so glad I now have the new link!!!

    I agree that Asians in Kenya are not as politically active as they should be, but this too is changing again. A few years ago, to protest the lawlessness and robberies, numerous asian businessmen went on strike and stormed the streets. this may not sound like much, but plenty of people were shocked enough for some change to take place…also I think that many voices are either overshadowed or just that some Asians just work more quietly to change things. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse

    This post, as all your others, leaves me so nostalgic for home.

    thanks :)

  3. Preston,you have published very good information about Kenya, the idea of anyone being able to make it- and America’s own self belief and how that would quickly change if Bill Gates and several others of his economic stature ‘at the top’ belonged to some visibly ‘other’ group that held itself apart from the main group.

  4. Interesting resource. I was in Kenya last year for a few months, and would have benefited from this.

    What you failed to mention is that Indians are largely hated by the black-Kenyans. I believe part of the reason is that as Indians graduated to become ‘managers’ in the building of the railroad, they were used by the British to extract work from the black Kenyan workers, using all forms of physical abuse – not uncommon in building the railroad elsewhere.

    What you note of the Indians true – they remain aloof and above the rest of society. However, I suspect things may be changing somewhat, and perhaps someday they’ll even have mixed race couples.

  5. What you failed to mention is that Indians are largely hated by the black-Kenyans

    True, but I think things are more complicated and conflicted than that. I did try to gauge, albeit informally, local attitudes in Nairobi toward Indians. I spent an afternoon/evening in Kibera (“the largest slum in Africa”), which functions rather like an enormous workers’ colony, supplying labor to the rest of the city. The local guys I was with told me that “everyone” works for an Indian employer, in a factory of some sort, where they earn a modest by respectable wage. The pay could be better (“Asians are cheap”), but the jobs are good and desirable.

    These views squared with other conversations I had. I’m sure the estimates of Indian employment are overstated, but there is a general respect for Indian business savvy and success. I don’t think, at least right now, that resentment and anger are the operative attitudes. It’s more like slightly grudging envy. Things could change, but for now Indians are regarded as cheap but fair as employers.

    Things are different among the elites. Indian tycoons work with other non-Indian tycoons–money is the common ground and the only thing people care about.

    The other reality is that Kenya’s Indian population just isn’t very large. It’s economically significant, and has been enormously important in Kenya’s history, but it’s not a driving cultural or social force at the moment. This is not a judgment, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Money is the big thing in Kenya. More of it is available to more people than at any other time in Kenya’s short history. Of course, there are significant barriers to getting a piece of the pie, but people are more aspirational now that there is a functioning, if flawed, democracy (compared to Kenya’s past, these are good times now). So, successful people and communities are to be respected, emulated, and engaged–not destroyed or nationalized. Indians in Kenya are just one wealthy group. The black Kenyan middle class is larger.

  6. Great post Preston. Unfortunately, one can see similar parallels within India. There is a general disconnect between the rising, younger middle class and politics in modern India. Much ado about Rang de Basanti is the realization of this problem.

  7. What you failed to mention is that Indians are largely hated by the black-Kenyans. I believe part of the reason is that as Indians graduated to become ‘managers’ in the building of the railroad, they were used by the British to extract work from the black Kenyan workers, using all forms of physical abuse – not uncommon in building the railroad elsewhere.

    The railroads form part of a persistent, and misleading, image of Asians in East Africa. Idi Amin used it when calling for the expulsion of Asians in 1972, saying that the Asians had come to build the railroad, and the railroad was now finished, so time to go home. But my understanding about the railroads is that those who came to build it were labourers, and most returned upon completion anyway. The Indians currently in EA came at the same time, but were brought in to exploit the economic opportunities afforded by the railway’s construction — to set up shop (and spread a cash economy) in the interior.

    And hate is a strong term. Resent them for their wealth (real, relative or perceived), and not necessarily inter-mingle, but not hate. There are some stupid muhindis, and some angry blacks, but I have seen too many cross-racial friendships and simply casual, friendly interactions to accept this categorization.

    Wonderful post, as ever, Preston.

  8. What you failed to mention is that Indians are largely hated by the black-Kenyans.

    This is a myth that has popularity because it is repeated loudly by some Indians in Kenya (sort of like WMD). The truth is, as Preston points out, we are simply too few to occupy a big enough part of the popular imagination, and most Kenyans are too busy getting along with their lives to think of us, positively or not.

    The major reason Indians are not engaged in politics in Kenya is most of us are narrow provincial people, whose concerns are just like shopkeepers anywhere in the world. The few notable exceptions, the folks who read Awaaz, are almost all lawyers or economist types, often educated abroad, in the west or in India.

  9. What you failed to mention is that Indians are largely hated by the black-Kenyans.

    This is a myth that has popularity because it is repeated loudly by some Indians in Kenya (sort of like WMD). The truth is, as Preston points out, we are simply too few to occupy a big enough part of the popular imagination, and most Kenyans are too busy getting along with their lives to think of us, positively or not.

    The major reason Indians are not engaged in politics in Kenya is most of us are narrow provincial people, whose concerns are just like shopkeepers’ anywhere in the world. The few notable exceptions, the folks who read Awaaz, are almost all lawyers or economist types, often educated abroad, in the west or in India.

  10. Nice post, Preston. I really like the images as well. I’m intrigued by the idea that Indians are global citizens. In a lot of ways, I think that this is so true. So much of the diasporic population seem to engage in their country of residence while keeping “one foot in the subcontinent” which is, in my opinion, a good thing. In addition, Indians in India inhabit a wide cultural specturm both because of the diversity of India itself and because of the number of global influences. I’m interested to hear more.

  11. most of us are narrow provincial people, whose concerns are just like shopkeepers anywhere in the world. The few notable exceptions, the folks who read Awaaz, are almost all lawyers or economist types, often educated abroad, in the west or in India.

    I don’t think that’s an excuse Indians anywhere can use anymore. Even a generation that was less formally educated (or ‘provincial’) would most probably have ensured that their children receive tertiary education.

    Some of the most important political leaders and figures around the world have had non-traditional occupations.

    I think a lack of engagement comes from lack of faith in politics as a vehicle to get things done.

    Thanks for this post, Preston, which shows that Indian activism is alive and well.

  12. Another very interesting, pioneering Indian man from the colonial era in Kenya

    Maybe , Preston , on your next trip to India, you can do a piece on the pensioners in places like Goa. For decades, I remember seeing that brown envelope from “Crown Agents” slipping under the font door. My Dad claims he has had an untimely delivery only once in almost forty years!

  13. Really interesting post. Thanks for the link. Our family is from Zanzibar/TZ and having been to Mombasa/Nairobi a few times, I noticed a difference between the South Asians in both countries.

    The South Asians in Tanzania are thoroughly “kiswahili” in their mannerisms, cultural sensibilities and even customs – fiercely so if, like our family, they happen to be from Zanzibar. My family converses with each other almost exclusively in kiswahili. I know a fair number of Indians who are thoroughly involved in the political process there, both on a city-wide/local and state level. Speaking from personal experience – our families always appeared thoroughly imbedded with the “locals”. This may be a function of the fact that our families were not that economically well off, so we never lived behind walls or in enclaves. All of these particular cultural and social pecularities held true despite the nationalist/marxist take over of Tanganika and Zanzibar in ’64 where many Indian’s suffered from one degree or another of discrimination and nationalization of their assets by the Government.

    This may be a result of Tanzania not throughly culturally and politically incorporated into the Commonwealth as compared to Kenya.
    I am not certain..but I did notice the difference when traveling between Nairobi, Mombasa, and Tanzania.

  14. This may be a function of the fact that our families were not that economically well off, so we never lived behind walls or in enclaves.

    I think that’s right. Prosperity does seem to have conferred a certain confidence, even arrogance to Kenyan desis, to the effect that their isolation is sensible, that they don’t need to pay attention to issues beyond their families or clans, as there is nothing they need from the outside. Perhaps not unlike the attitude of many well-off suburban Americans, who don’t bother to vote, become bored if politics is discussed and uncomfortable if discussed passionately.

  15. There’s another, unexpected connection between India and Kenya, which has been explored by the fine U.K.-based historian (of desi origins) Clifford Pereira. It’s the intriguing tale of the so-called Bombay Africans.

    Briefly, after slavery was banned by the British Empire, the colonial Navy was empowered with the right to stop slave ships, and divest them of their cargo. These newly freed slaves were generally deposited at the nearest port – for hundreds of them (mainly children, the Asian dispersal from Africa differed in this regard from the Atlantic slave trade) this meant Bombay. Most of these so-called “Bombay Africans” actually wound up near Nagpur, at an orphanage facility run by the Anglicans, where they were raised to be god-fearing colonial subjects.

    Come the opening of Kenya, and the GG of India at the time hit upon the novel idea of using these ‘Bombay Africans” as intermediaries and proxies. So, decades after the ‘Bombay Africans’ were “liberated”, they were pressed into service and parcelled off to Kenya in the hundreds.

    They had a significant impact at first, as you might imagine from a literate, completely Westernized Africans, a phenomenon somewhat in parallel with the American-sponsored similar reverse migration from the plantations of the South to Liberia, or, indeed, another Brit attempt at resettlement of African slaves that took place in Sierra Leone.

    But a scant generation and a half later, there were no traces of a Bombay African identity any more.

    Still, many historians agree that the Bombay Africans brought a relatively mature political consciousness with them from Nagpur to Mombasa. And this is one of the saplings that grew into the Kenyan anti-colonial movement, and led eventually to Independence.

  16. Don’t know where to post this..anyhow I was listening to East Midlands Apnapunjab radio last night and was shocked to hear that that dude Rupe Dhillon was on it and has sucessfully had his novel Nila Noor published in Punjabi by a British publisher! Even weirder.. he was called the Godfather of British PunjabiLit.

    I went through the net today and discovered that Amazon sells his book as do a company called Diggory. May be of interest to someone. I can’t read Punjabi but it would be great to hear the opinion of someone who can. Maybe Preston or Amarjit can preview it?

    Heard he’s been heavily marketed, like some kinda actor in Des Pardes, Sanjh Savera and Ajit…don’t know if that is true or false. Here’s the tenous connection..I think he hails from Kenya

  17. thanks for the intro to this magazine preston.

    did you get a chance to visit the world social forum happening in nairobi and pick up the desi scene there?

  18. This discussion has been of immense help to me since myself and my husband are being offered a job in Mombasa. I do have ties from my maternal side with Zanzibar. They were cloth merchants and had to move during the civil unrest. I am excited to have the opportunity to move near to that place again and experience the life they might have had. This information has been immensely helpful to understand the Indian perspective in Kenya and also the current situation prevailing in terms of the Indian Community. But I am a little worried when I read Indians are hated by black Kenyans. I hope this statement is over exaggerated.

  19. hey Preston, keep it up!!!!!!!!!!! The pension from “Crown Agent “,brought smlies to my late father , Mr.Gilbert Almeida & keeps my mother strong , with gratitude to the Kenya Goverment .

  20. Thanks Awaaz (Zarina and Zahid and and the ‘Team’ too)for the insights on Kenyan Asians and others. Intersting development in the political front from Meru, Kenya where some ‘Asians’ have put in their interest in the local government election. Interesting reactions elicited with some current councillors attempting to hold a demonstration in the town in this regard (because one of the contenders is highly tipped to win a seat and the Mayoral crown too). How absurd is this? In addition, a local regional press reported in its front page headlined ‘Asian tycoon enters Mayoral race’? This is absurd if not petty! Sterotypical comments are propagated by the press, who would otherwise have greater role to play in demystify such assertions. Keep watch of the outcome!

  21. I HAVE READ ALL THE COMMENTS BUT I WOULD NOT LIKE TO COMMENT NOW. IAM CURRENTLY CONDUCTING A RESERCH FOR M.A STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI, DEPT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE ON THE TOPIC: POLITICAL REPRESENTATION AND RACIAL MINORITIES IN AFRICA: THE KENYA ASIAN COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE (1963- 2007). I WOULD THEREFORE KINDLY REQUEST FOR YOUE ACCEPTANCE FOR AN INTERVIEW ON THE SUBJECT THEN A SHALL PROVIDE THE REPORT FOR PUBLICATION IN MAY 2008.

    THANKS

  22. Hi Awaaz Community. This is a very interesting topic for me. I’m a (black) kenyan residing in the U.S. Here in the states, I’ve met people from all corners of the world and interacted with them. I’ve noticed how strong a country becomes when it accepts all it’s citizens as “one”. Kenya is no different. Kenya has a diversity of communities ( don’t want to use the whiteman’s term “tribes”) and also has diverse races in the form of indians, Arabs, somali kenyans and a few white.

    However, it is disturbing that the majority of kenyan indians simply do not assimilate and in that regard are not really considered “kenyan enough” or “real kenyans”. I know it sounds absurd but I believe that the asian community in kenya is itself responsible for this.

    Citizens are defined by nationality and culture. Nationality can be acquired thru naturalisation but culture has to be authentic. yOU COULD BE 4th generation kenyan indian but you are still not considered “kenyan”

    and why does this happen? First all, Indians live very secluded lives and as such they are not known to be open minded, especially about race issues, maybe it was inherited from the RETROGRESSIVE CASTE system in their motherland.

    In Kenya for example, Indians take their kids to indian schools from kindergarten upto high school, the likes of premier academy, cavina, etc. They mostly live in indian only parts of the cities such as westlands and parklands. Alot of these schools follow IGCE International curriculum and as such do not teach the NATIONAL language kiswahili.

    As a result, indians grow up interacting with their fellow indian only comrades from early childhood to late teens and the only interaction they have with black kenyans is probably their domestic servants or their askaris (watchmen)

    I once met a kenyan indian in the U.S and when he told me he was kenyan, I was surprised. ask me why ? Coz from his accent, he sounded like an indian form the subcontinent India itself. He did not sound like a diasporaic indian.

    Indians in kenya and ones from india are hard to differntiate for the average black kenyan because their accents sound the same. They have heavy indian accents, yet they have lived in kenya for 3 generations?

    There is nothing wrong with speaking in your native accent, BUT if you still have a heavy one despite your parents and great grandparents being born in kenya, then there’s a problem. It’s a problem because it shows you have not assimilated into your host country in any meaningful way.

    I am by no means suggesting that you abandon or deny your unique indian cultural heritage, no way, But you can compliment it as part of your identity at the same time identyfying urself as a full kenyan.

    In the U.S. which is made up of immigrants, there are numerous people who are fully american yet they still maintain their ancestral immigrant cultures, be it english, irish, scottish, japanese, chinese and even indian.

    I have met jamaicans and they are an interesting lot. Jamaica has a mix of races though black jamaicans are the majority. Evereyone knows and can identify their unique accent or patwa language as they call it. I was happily surprised to meet chinese jamaicans who converse fluently in patwa. If they spoke to u while u closed your eyes, you’d think they were black jamaicans, but they’re not. They identify themselves as jamaicans first then chinese second.

    They were also brought as workers by the brits in the mid and early part of the century and they stayed and assimilated better than my indian brethren in kenya . In Jamaica, just like kenya, the chinese community is well respected for their business acumen and wealth just like kenyan indians, BUt the diference lies in that in jamaica, they are regarded as real jamaicans by the majority, unlike kenya where indians are not seen as full kenyans.

    The new generation of young indians and young indian parents need to do a better job of intergrating their kids with black africans , learning swahili and being part of the diverse kenyan country. we do not want half citizens but people who are proud of their country and who can fully and well represent kenya as their mother nation.

    The Arab community in kenya have done a much better job in assimilating into the kenyan culture than their indian counterparts. Arabs speak good swahili and are generally seen more as kenyans than the indians are.

    These are my honest observations and not just an angry tirade.

    wahindi wa kenya, ni wakati wa kujivunia kuwa wakenya, au sio ?

  23. Interesting view points from Mr. obzerver.

    I would like to point out the following:

    1. The Kenyan-Indians are fully aware of their ‘aloofness’in Kenyan Society. They probably understand the gap much better than the ordinary Kenyan. This aloofness is a deliberate part of their make up. It is consciously done. You might ask why. It’s simple, they are immigrants and they are wary of what the locals think of them. It’s a reflex defensive reaction in terms of psychology. I have studied in Perth, Australia, and the same scenario happens with the indegenous Kenyans. They all hang out together, go to the same nightclubs etc…basically bahaving the same way as the indians in kenya albeit on a much smaller scale.

    2. I personally think that the indigenous kenyans do not make the Kenyans feel at home in Kenya. Indian-Kenyans are regularly tounted with disparaging racist comments from the Matatu to schools (which is a reason why most parents will prefer schools like premier and cavina)…because these remarks are so common and frequent the indian community has become numb to them.

    3. Mr. Observer you haven’t really been around nairobi if you think Indians and Kenyans are not partying together. Especially with the younger generation things are changing pretty fast. Just go to any established night club in Nairobi and you will find young indian girls in the arms of young Indigenous Kenyans.

    4. As for the learning of swahili I blame the kenyan education system. I did KCPE (and KCSE for that matter…swahili was compulsory). The system is based on the assumption that a 6 year old heading into standar one has some idea of the language…the indigenous kenyans have been speaking it since they were babies. But for the Kenyan-Indian kid, he only knows very basic and largely ungrammatical stuff from his experience of interacting with the houseboy/housegirl. I remeber everything being tought in primary and high school basically flew over my head. There should be an introductory course for the language for kenyan-indian kids so that they can get a better grip of the language.

    5. And in general, the indigenous kenyans need to develop a more proactive approach towards indians in terms of friendliness and being willing to work together with them because currently their is a hidden racist attitude towards indians. This can boil over into Nazi style ethnic cleansing should something like the post election violence reach teh doorstep of the Kenyan Indian in parklands or westlands. I think talking it out with each other like this on the net, or even better face to face can help solve this problem…we become aware of what we think of wach other and then can move on from their.

  24. Mehul I agree with you, I am also in perth and noticed that we tend to keep to ourselves, it even breaks down to tribal groups, kikuyus, kalenjins etc.. sad.. but it’s upto us now to make a difference, lets catch up for drinks after work on a friday night as kenyans and share both our differences and similarities.. let’s break that wall.. so it’s upto us, I have kenyan indian friends, I have tried so many times to catch up with them on a regular basis but it hasnt worked.I have south african indian friends who are very friendly and we are very close since uni… it’s upto our generation to make this great change, it is inevitable anyway especially with the rapid change happening in kenya and the world, we all need each other, in business etc… my doctor was indian at agha khan, his maid at home was probably indegionous kenyan, so u see, we all need each other at the end of the day

  25. Hey guys sema je??

    Just a note here.

    I myself am a 3rd generation Kenyan of Punjabi Descent. A sikh.

    I am born and bred in Kenya and have mastered Kiswahili kabisa kusoma au kuongea.

    I grew up with black africans and am sometimes called an Africanised Punjabi.

    I myself am proud of being Kenyan and would fly the Kenyan flag anytime. Infact I fly one on my car.

    I also peak Punjabi as well which is the lingo(lugha) of my ancestors but see Kenya as the Promised Land.

    A Black KEnyan can never disregard my Kenyaness as I have my ways to explain to him how I am a Kenyan and that not only Blacks are seen as Kenyans although they are the majority of the population and in some countries thus Kenya is seen as a Black country. She does also have some unhidden truths within her population of people.

    Indians in general need to come out of their cocnut shells and mix in with all people in Kenya as it is your home and how you will be. You can’t change that.Being in a land for over a century counteracts as that being your country and especially with you being brought here with ships and not as your own choice ( Immigrants), this is your home.

    A great example I shall use is what obzerver on December 20, 2007 07:48 PM · highlighted in his post using the Chinese Jamaicans. However, I will use the Afro Caribbean Jamaicans ( Black Majority) as an example.They too trace their ancestry to West Africa. However, being brough to the land their against their will, they made Jamaica their home and are known as Jamaicans. They are not ashamed or scared to show that. That also includes the Jamaicans of Chinese and Indian ancestry.The Indian Immigrants however, are a different story and do not get included in the Census. This is strictly for Kenyans of Indian ancestry residing in Kenya for 3 generations or more.

    Bless.

    Singh

  26. 30 · obzerver said

    The Arab community in kenya have done a much better job in assimilating into the kenyan culture than their indian counterparts. Arabs speak good swahili and are generally seen more as kenyans than the indians are.

    well coming form a half Arab and half Indian from Kenya the Arabs of Kenya have been there a whole lot longer, and even they haven’t completely assimilated, if I asked my Kenya born (for the previous two generations) uncles if they were Kenyan or Yemeni, they would most certainly answer Yemeni Arab.

    so give the Indian community some credit, it could be alot worse. the vast majority of my generation do feel , to use your words, “kenyan enough” obzerver

  27. I totally beleive the new generation will make a difference in uniting Kenyans.

    I was born in Kenya and I also lived in Jamaica for a while and the unity there between different people is vast. May be it was easier for all the communities to settle down together because Jamaica belonged to no indeginous people where as Kenya had indigenous Kenyans and then the Indians came along. SO there was a feeling that you’ve cme to our land. Comment on Singhs input above.

  28. I work in Parklands but live elswhere in Nairobi. I must say it is true, Indians (well, Kenyan-Indians) in Nairobi do hide themselves in the suburb. I never realized there were soo many of them in Nairobi before i started working here. I have adjusted to the accent so it is a lot easier to communicate (imagine that!). It is a like an entirely different country whenyou get here!!!

  29. I’m quite surprised to see that most of you want integration with the black majority /political participation. In my opinion these are dangerous steps to take. We all know the blacks are not that united amongst themselves, they hate each other so much they result to violence. So what would make them accept a a new class of wealthy “kabila” to “oppress” them more ? The seclusion of Kenyan Indians works mostly for the benefit of the community. Opening the gates to integration will only erode the economic gains while encouraging the graduation of the envy by Blacks to fully blown hate. Remember 68/69/70 deportations ? Just how I see it.

  30. What is the approximate populations of Indians in Kenya and Tanzania… are they still immigrating to the west?

  31. My great great grandfather worked in India constructing railways and I understand brought many Indians to EA to build the raiways. Great people and real contribution to the development of East Africa!!!

  32. i am a black tanzanian and im telling you all that its worse in tanzania! tanzanian indians are worse! go to Upanga in dar-es-salaam and u shall see the picture! their kids dont even speak swahili, maids and drivers treated like shit. Some of you here have noted on how successful the indian community is but no one has mentioned their contribution in making government officials soo corrupt..indians dont meddle in politics not cause they are scared its coz they are affraid to loose govt contracts and contacts they have established for decades in looting. Lets call it as we see it. I went to warwick university for my undergraduate degree, i met a few kenyan indians and tanzanian indians..i have to say the kenyan indians were waay more passionate about kenya and proud in comparison to the tanzanian ones..tanzanian indians are fake and will only be friends when they know u come from a politically connected family or when they need something from you thus its harder to spot them when abroad. When ever i see a black guy dating an indian girl ! its like a culture shock! thanks to the taboo created by the indian communities. this mess needs to end…

  33. Hi, I am from India and I dont mind admitting that Indians are the worst of racists – skin colour. Even in India we discriminate against those who are dark. The amount of Saffron a pregnant lady consumes all for a fair skinned child. Most of the villains in our movies are dark, while the main actors are fair. We apply a smudge to ward off evil. We are the largest consumers for fairness creams. No wonder such issues exist in Africa. As an expat I have sensed hatred in African airports, African streets – atleast the Africans are civilised not to attack me or hurl abuses at me like they do in Europe.

  34. I am a Kenyan Indian & of the third generation. One distinct difference that has increased some racial tension in the recent years is the influx of Indians coming from India. The influx started someting in 1990-1995 and greatly increased over time.

    Kenyan born Indians speak good swahili and understand the local Kenyans they have lived with better. Most of the Indians that time studied together in same schools & actualy enjoyed each other’s company, regardless of race.

    At the influx of Indians from India, there started being some resentment to Indian because the new Indian did not know how to relate to the local kenyans, and frankly, there was some form of bullying – more verbal to the local Kenyan who were mainly staff in these shops.

    Once the local Kenyan faced this, a form of oppression, there has been some resentment as people from India were not fair. Not all indian immigrants did this but a majoriy – and from reading the previous post, you can understand why this happened.

    However, all immigrants, ought to take a more active role in restoring ties with the local community. There has been a case of taking profits and corrupting officials to get more contracts which does more harm in the long run. I remember the Nairobi Mombasa road being built which cracked and fell apart even before the entire route was finished! substandards and the greed by goverment officials, together with companies that want to make a quick shilling . . .

    No wonder the contracts had to be awarded to Chinese people who would eventally take the profits back to China – but at least Kenya would get a proper standard result. Its time we all keep good standards so that the shilling stays home!

  35. Minority Identity and National Integration: A Case Study of the Asian Community in Kenya

    By Philip Lumumba Ochieng

    University Of Nairobi Department Of Political Science And Public Administration

    A research project submitted to the graduate school in partial fulfilment for the award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic and Security Studies.

    August 2006 DECLARATION

    CANDIDATE

    This research paper is my original work and has not been presented for a degree award in any other University. No part of this paper may be reproduced without prior express permission of the author and/or The University of Nairobi.

    PHILIP LUMUMBA OCHIENG DATE:

    ………………………………………….. ………………………

    SUPERVISOR.

    This paper has been submitted for examination with my approval as the University supervisor.

    Dr. EGAMBI DALISU DATE: Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

    ……………………………………… …………………………….

    Dedication

    To my wife Helen, And parents Lina and Dismas Ochieng

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    The idea of this research took root in my mind sometime in November 2004 after having seen an exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi), organized by the Asian African Heritage Trust. The theme of the exhibition was The Asian African Heritage: Identity and History. Since then many people have influenced its development and many more have helped and contributed in different ways for which I am extremely grateful.

    I would like to particularly thank Miss Kassam Shakila Kassam, Mr. Kirit Shah, Mrs. Radha Upadhyaya and the African Heritage trust, for their enlightening insights, access to literature and material, assistance in data collection and above all encouragement and positive support as I worked on this paper.

    I would also like to thank my project supervisor Dr. Egambi Dalizu for patiently guiding me throughout the research.

    Finally I would like to appreciate the work that my wife has done in terms of editing the manuscript as well as pointing out the mistakes and omissions of fact. I however take responsibility for any errors in this paper.

    LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

    EAC East African Community EAINC East African Indian National Congress EATUC East African Trade Union Congress IBEAC Imperial British East Africa Company IBEIC Imperial British East India Company ILS Indian Labor Society KAU Kenya African Union KFL Kenya Federation of Labour KFP Kenya Freedom Party KILTU Kenyan Indian Labour Trade Union LTUEA Labour Trade Union of East Africa ML Muslim League PSK Protective Society of Kenya RAU Railways Asian Union TUCM Trade Union Committee of Members

    TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

    Declaration ………………………………………………………………………………..…. 1 Dedications …………………………………………………………………………….……. 2 Acknowledgments …………………………………………………………………………… 3 List of abbreviations ………………………………………………………..………………… 4 Table of contents ……………………………………………………………………………. 5 Not Kenyan Enough ………………………………………………………………..………. 7

    Chapter One.

    1.1. Introduction …………………………………………………………………..…….…….. 8 Societal Security ………………………………………………………….…………….. 9 National Integration …………………………………………………….……………….. 11 1.2. Statement of research problem …………………………………..……………….…… 13 1.3. Goals and objectives ………………………………………………………..…….……. 13 1.4. Justification of proposed research …………………………………………………… .. 14 1.5. Definition of terms ……………………………..……………….……………………….. 15 1.6. Literature Review ……………………………………………………………….…..…. 21 1.7. Conceptual framework ……………………………………………….………….……. 23 Allport’s Inter-Group Contact Hypothesis ………………………………………..… 23 The Theory of Social Identity ………………………….…………………………….. 26 Social Dominance Theory …………………….……………………………………… 27 The Theory of Group Conflicts …………………..…….…………………………….. 28 1.8. Research hypothesis …………………………………………………………….. …. 29 1.9. Research Methodology …………………………………………………………….…. 30

    Chapter Two: Identity and Heritage

    2.0. The Asian identity in Kenya……… …………………………………………..……. . 31 2.1. Introduction ………………………………….………..…………………….………… . 31 2.2. Defining Asians ………………………………………………………………………. . 32 2.3. The Zoroastrians (Parsi) ………………………….…………………………………. 33 2.4. The Hindus …………………………………………………………………………….. 34 2.4.1. The caste system ………………………………………………..………………….. 34 2.4.2. Some individual Hindu communities in Kenya …………………….…………..…. 36 2.4.3. Hindu Umbrella Organizations ………………………………………….…….…… 45 2.4.4. The Sanatanist Associations ………………………………………………………. 46 2.4.5. Women Groups. …………………………………………………………………….. 47 2.4.6. Sects within Hinduism ………………………………………………………………. 47 2.5. The Jains ………………………………………………………………………………. 47 2.5.1. The rise of Jainism ………………………………………………………………….. 47 2.5.2. Jains in Kenya…………………………………………………………….………….. 48 2.5.3. The Oshwal Vanik. ………………………………………………………………….. 49 2.6. The Muslims ……………………………………………………………………………. 49 2.6.1.Sunni Islam ……………………………………………………………………………. 51 2.6.2. Shia Islam ……………………………………….…………………………………… 55 2.7. The Sikhs. ……………………………………………………………………………… 56 2.8. The Christians. (Goans) ……………………………………………………….……… 57 2.9. Asian migration into Kenya ……………………………..……………………….……. 58 2.10. The Asian heritage ………………………………………………………..….………. 61

    Chapter Three: Integration:

    3.1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………..…………… 65 3.1.1. Pluralism and multiculturalism………………………………………………………. 66 3.1.2. Assimilation …………………………………………………………………….…….. 67 3.2. Dimensions of integration………………………………..……………………………. 68 3.3. Soio-cultural integration ……………………………………..………………………… 69 3.4. Economic integration ………………………………………………..………………… 71 3.5 Political integration ……………………………………………………………………… 73 3.6. Survey …………………………………………………………………………………… 80 3.6.1. Overview …………………………………………………………..…………………. 80 3.6.2. Preparation of indexes. ……………………………………………………………… 81 3.6.3. Results and analysis of questionnaires …………………………………………… 84 3.7. Results and analysis of the in-depth interviews…………………………………….. 99 3.7.1. Description of interviews ……………………………………………………………. 99 3.7.2. Identity and history …………………………………………………………………… 99 3.7.3. Social contact/distance and stereotypes …………………….………………….… 102 3.7.4. Education systems and integration ……………………………….……………… 105 3.7.5. Economic integration ………………………………………………..……………… 107 3.7.6. Political integration ……………………………………………………………….…. 109

    Chapter Four: Conclusion:

    4.1. Identity……………………………………………………………..……. ……………. 112 4.2. Integration. ……………………………………………………………………………. 114 4.3. Way forward ………………………………………………..…………………….…… 118 4.4. Recommendations ………………………………………………….………….…….. 120 Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………….….…. 122

    Appendixes:

    Appendix 1. Comparison of Asian and Africans Responses…………………………. 127 Appendix 2 In-depth interview, Asian Respondents ……………………….………….. 135 Appendix 3 In-depth interview, African Respondents ………………………………….. 137 Appendix 4 Questionnaire for Asian respondents………………………….………….. Appendix 5 Questionnaire for African respondents …………………………………….

    Not Kenyan Enough

    “If I were black, People would hail me as one of the revolutionaries. If I were white, You would kiss my feet. If I were black, I would be a woman Working hard for her income using her talents. If I were white, I would be someone who Graced your functions as a welcome guest. But guess what?

    i’m not. I’M A MUINDI,

    I’m someone who’s apparently closed up And confined and hostile towards the locals because Everyone who shares this skin colour happens to be. I’m a suspicious character because I live here, Where everything about me is unwelcome. “Whatever I do is not enough. My charity isn’t wanted and my work is thrown in my face. It’s not enough because I’ll never be . . . Because I’m not . . . as you said, I’m not Kenyan enough. I’ll never be Kenyan enough because I’m not black. My child will never be Kenyan enough Because she’ll be the child of a whore. A Kenyan whore. That’s what I am.”

    Extracted from Not Kenyan Enough-By Marziya

    1.1. Introduction The question of identity, particularly ethnic or cultural is normally a sensitive one in Africa. This is mainly because these ethnic, racial, cultural and linguistic identities have been used as a vehicle to attain and/or deny “Others” social-cultural, political and economic opportunities.

    The presence of peoples from the Indian sub-continent in East Africa goes back well over three thousand years. The presence of peoples from Eastern Africa in India is also of long duration Many Asian families have been settled on the Coast, Lamu, Pate, Malindi, Mombasa, Pemba, Zanaibar, Bagamoyo and Dar-es-Salaam from the 1820s and earlier; but the development of our Asian minority as we know it today emerges from the 1880s.

    The need for us to know more about each other than what we do at present is critical, given the dangers of ethnic-based politics. It is equally critical for the future, given the fact that Kenya is composed not of one or two different minorities, but of forty four different minorities. It is therefore important for us as Kenyans to examine all our stories, all our heritages, all our struggles for our freedom, and all our culture, from every part of our country. And thereby, most importantly, write record, sculpt, dance, paint, and teach our history, the ideas that move us, and our aspirations

    With such a diverse ethnic and cultural reality it therefore becomes important to see the interaction between and amongst the minority groups. The nature of such interaction is an indicator of the level of integration or lack thereof.

    Societal Security

    One recent approach to the relationship between security and identity has been that of “societal security”. In the 1993 book Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe, Ole Waever, Barry Buzan, Morten Kelstrup, and Pierre Lemaitre argued that societal insecurities; insecurities over ethnic, national and religious identities, have become more and more important in relation to those over state sovereignty in contemporary Europe. This indeed could be said to be the case in Kenya, a nation of approximately forty-four ethnic nationalities.

    The term societal security was first used by Barry Buzan in the book: People, States and Fear (Buzan: 1991). Societal security was just one of the five sectors in his five-dimensional approach to security theory, along with military, political, economic, and environmental security. Here, however, all of Buzan’s dimensions, including the societal one, were still sectors of state security: Society, for example, was just one sector where the state could be threatened.

    In Identity, however, Ole Waever argues that Buzan’s previous five-dimensional approach had become ‘untenable’ as a present context for societal security (Waever: 1993, 25). As a result, he proposed a reconceptualisation of Buzan’s previous theory; not of five sectors of state security, but of a duality of state and societal security. Societal security is still kept as a sector of state security, but now it is also a referent object of security in its own right. Whereas state security is concerned about threats to its sovereignty (if the state loses its sovereignty it will not survive as a state), societal security is concerned about threats to a society’s identity (if a society loses its identity it will not survive as a society). Therefore, although the state is still a referent object for the military, political, economic, societal, and environmental sectors, ‘society’ is also a referent object for the societal sector.

    According to Buzan, societies are ‘fundamentally about identity’ (Buzan: 1993a, 6). Similarly, Waever argues that: The key to society is that set of ideas and practices that identify individuals as members of a social group. Society is about identity, about the self-conception of communities and individuals identifying themselves as members of a community (Waever: 1993, 24). In other words, societies are constituted by a sense of social identity, where at its most basic, social identity is what enables the word ‘we’ to be used (Waever, 17). He further points out that societal security concerns: the ability of a society to persist under changing conditions and possible and actual threats. More specifically, it is about the sustainability, within acceptable conditions for evolution, of traditional patterns of language, culture, association, and religious and national identity and custom.

    Threats to societal security can occur when societies perceive that that its ‘we’ identity is being put in danger. Those means which can threaten a society’s identity may range from the suppression of its expression to the interference with its ability to reproduce itself. According to Buzan, this may include ‘forbidding the use of language, names and dress, through closure of places of education and worship, to the deportation or killing of members of the community’. And that threat to the reproduction of a society can occur through the ‘sustained application of repressive measures against the expression of the identity. If the institutions that reproduce language and culture are forbidden to operate, then identity cannot be transmitted effectively from one generation to the next. Therefore, some threats to societal security may be military ones (killing members of the group, conquering historic territory). But, some threats may also be non-military ones (denying language rights, freedom of worship).

    It may also be important to note that , non-military insecurities may produce societal security dilemmas at the same time, non-military societal security dilemmas may produce conflict and that, existing (non-military) conflicts in certain extreme cases may lead to the collapse of multi-ethnic states.

    Often times there may arise a situation normally referred to a as The Societal Security Dilemma. A societal security dilemma might exist when the actions of one society, in trying to increase its societal security (strengthening its own identity), causes a reaction in a second society, which in the end, decreases it’s (the first society’s) own societal security (weakens its own identity).

    National Integration.

    The issue of integration is undoubtedly multi-faceted mainly because it can be approached from different angles, depending on the point of view of the commentator in this case the Asians or the Non-Asians. In order to assess the level of societal security one may need to look into the level of community integration. The more intergraded a society is the less insecure minorities within that society become.

    Integration generally refers to the inclusion of new populations into existing social structures and to the kind and quality of connection these new populations have to the existing system of socio-economic, legal and cultural relations. It is a complex, multilevel process. It may also take time from one generation to another. Milton Gordon and Hartmut Esser differentiate between four major dimensions of the integration; structural integration; the acquisition of rights and the access to positions and statuses by the immigrants; cultural integration or acculturation; cognitive, cultural, behavioral and attitudinal change of immigrants, but also of natives; social integration; development of personal relations and group memberships with native people; identificational integration; formation of feelings of belonging and identity in relation to the immigration, society.

    This research therefore intents to look into the issue of Societal Security with reference to the Asian African Community in contemporary Kenya, its heritage, its identity and national integration. It will at the same time endeavour to study biases, which dominate Kenyan public thought, and the level of tolerance or lack thereof.

    1.2. Statement of research problem This research shall endeavour to deal with the issue of identity and national integration. Look into what actually is the Asian identity in Kenya. How does this Identity and Heritage affect National Integration and vice versa, how is it affected by National integration, in other words to what extent is it a product of such integration. The problem to be handled in the research will include issues relating to xenophobia/racism, an examination of matters such as; stereotypes, exploitation, classism and its antecedent conflicts, perpetuated both by and against the Asian community as well as access to equal opportunities for business and employment in the civil service, political participation and cultural expression.

    The research shall look into the questions of multiculturalism, national integration , the developmental, religious and social activities of the Asian community in Kenya and finally possible strategies that may be adopted in order to foster the gains achieved since independence in the social, cultural, religious economic and political fields to enhance better understanding at the individual, community, national levels.

    1.3. Goal and objectives of the study The primary goal of the research is to examine the identity, history and heritage of the Asian community in Kenya, the nature of community integration vis-à-vis the national social fabric, and the challenges faced in social, cultural and political participation in contemporary Kenyan society. Objectives of the study

    1. To study theoretical approaches and studies about ethnic tolerance, bias, racism and xenophobia and integration, looking at the way in which previous research and theories could be useful for the study in Kenya.

    2. To use qualitative methods (in-depth interviews) to learn about Asian and African experiences on the everyday attitudes towards each other.

    3. To use literature review to elaborate and understand the history and heritage of the Asians in Kenya.

    4. To analyse the data that are extracted from the survey, comparing these with the results of the in-depth interviews.

    1.4. Justification of proposed research

    The Asian identity and presence has not been sufficiently represented in both history books and schools/universities, and an examination of the subject is long overdue. The need for a greater appreciation of the challenges of national integration in Kenya from an Asian perspective.

    1.5. Definition of terms

    a) Acculturation: Acculturation is the obtainment of culture by an individual or a group of people. The term originally applied only to the process concerning a foreign culture, from the acculturing or accultured recipient point of view, having this foreign culture added and mixed with that of his or her already existing one acquired since birth.

    Acculturation is the exchange of cultural features which result when groups come into continuous firsthand contact. Either or both groups of the original cultural patterns may be changed a bit, but the groups remain distinct overall. acculturation can be voluntary or forced. It is a second mechanism of cultural change. Acculturation involves different levels of destruction, survival, domination, resistance, modification, and adaptation of native cultures following interethnic contact.

    b) African: Indigenous inhabitants of Kenya. The Bantu, Nilots and Cushites.

    c) Asian: A person of South East Asian origin and descent. People who came from or whose descendants came from India or Pakistan.

    d) Assimilation: Assimilation is derived from Latin root assimilatio; which means”to render similar”. Cultural assimilation, is an intense process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically imigrants or other minority groups are “absorbed” into an established, generally larger community. This presumes a loss of all or many characteristics which make the newcomers different. A region or society where assimilation is occurring is sometimes referred to as a “melting pot”

    Assimilation can be voluntary, which is usually the case with immigrants, or forced upon a group, as is usually the case with the receiving “host” group. Where national groups are strongly urged to assimilate, there is often much resistance in spite of the use of governmental force. If a government puts extreme emphasis on national unity and identity, it may resort, especially in the case of minorities originating from historical foes, to harsh, even extreme measures to ‘exterminate’ the minority culture, sometimes to the point of considering the only alternative its physical elimination (expulsion or even genocide).

    Assimilation can have negative implications for national minorities or aboriginal cultures, in that after assimilation the distinctive features of the original culture will be minimized and may disappear altogether. This is especially true in situations where the institutions of the dominant culture initiate programs to assimilate or integrate minority culture.

    e) Cultural herigate: Cultural herigate is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Often though, what is considered cultural heritage by one generation may be rejected by the next generation, only to be revived by a succeeding generation.

    Physical or “tangible cultural heritage” includes buildings and historic places, monuments, artifacts, etc., that are considered worthy of preservation for the future. These include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specific culture.

    A broader definition includes intangible aspects of a particular culture, often maintained by social customs during a specific period in history. The ways and means of behavior in a society, and the often formal rules for operating in a particular cultural climate. These include social values and traditions, customs and practices, aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, artistic expression, language and other aspects of human activity. The significance of physical artifacts can be interpreted against the backdrop of socioeconomic, political, ethnic, religious and philosophical values of a particular group of people. Naturally, intangible cultural heritage is more difficult to preserve than physical objects.

    f) Cultural identity: Cultural identity is the feeling of identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as she/he is influenced by her/his belonging to a group or culture. Some critics of cultural identity argue that the preservation of cultural identity, being based upon difference, is a divisive force in society, and that cosmopolitanism gives individuals a greater sense of shared citizenship.

    g) Cultural pluralism: Cultural pluralism exists when all groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities. In a pluralist culture, unique groups not only coexist side by side, but also consider qualities of other groups as traits worth having in the dominant culture. For example, a community center in the United States may offer classes in Indian yoga, Chinese calligraphy, and Latin salsa dancing. That city may also house a synagogue, mosque, and Buddhist temple, as well as several churches of various Christian denominations. The existence of such institutions and practices is possible because the cultural communities responsible for them are protected by law and accepted by the larger society in a pluralist culture. Cultural pluralism is a necessary consequence of a flourishing and peaceful democratic society, because of its tolerance and respect for cultural and ethnic diversity.

    h) Ethnic group: The word “Ethnic” is derived from the Greek ethnos, meaning “people”. An ethnic group is a human population whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry. Ethnic groups are also usually united by common cultural, behavioural, linguistic, or religious practices. In this sense, an ethnic group is also a cultural community.

    From an objective standpoint, an ethnic group is also an endogamous population, that is, members of an ethnic group procreate primarily with other members of their ethnic group, The characteristic of endogamy is reinforced by proximity, cultural familiarity, and also social pressure (in extreme cases, by legal command) to procreate within the ethnic group

    i) Minority: A minority or subordinate group is a sociological group that does not constitute a politically dominant plurality of the total population of a given society. A sociological minority is not necessarily a numerical minority — it may include any group that is disadvantaged with respect to a dominant group in terms of social status, education, employment, wealth and political power. To avoid confusion, some writers prefer the terms “subordinate group” and “dominant group” rather than “minority” and “majority”.

    j) Multiculturalism: Multiculturalism is an ideology advocating that society should consist of, or at least allow and include, distinct cultural groups, with equal status. Multiculturalism contrasts with the monoculturalism. Monoculturalism implies a normative cultural unity, ‘monocultural’ can be a descriptive term for pre-existing homogeneity. The term multiculturalism is almost always applied to distinct cultures of immigrant groups in developed countries, not to the presence of indigenous peoples.

    Multiculturalism is an extremely divisive issue. Its supporters often see it as a self-evident entitlement of cultural groups, as a form of civil rights grounded in equality of cultures. They often assume it will lead to interculturalism – beneficial cultural exchanges, where cultures learn about each others literature, art and philosophy (high culture), and influence each others music, fashion and cuisine e.t.c.. Its opponents often see it as something which has been imposed on them without their consent. They fear it will undermining national unity.

    some important government multicultural policies include: dual citizenship, government support for newspapers, television, and radio in minority languages, support for minority festivals, holidays, and celebrations, acceptance of traditional and religious dress in schools, the military, and society in general, support for arts from cultures around the world, programs to encourage minority representation in politics, education, and the work force. k) Racial integration: Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation (the process of ending systematic racial segregation). In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely bringing a racial minority into the majority culture. Desegregation is largely a legal matter, integration largely a social one.

    l) Racism: Racism is an ideological superstructure, it is defined as the predication of decisions and policies on considerations of race for the purpose of subordinating a racial group and maintaining control over that group. Racism can more narrowly refer to a system of oppression, such as institutional racism, that is based on the concept of social discrimination by race.

    m) Xenophobia: Xenophobia is derived from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “foreigner,” “stranger,” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.” Xenohobia denotes a phobic attitude toward strangers or of the unknown. The term is typically used to describe fear or dislike of foreigners or in general of people different from one’s self. For example, racism is sometimes described as a form of xenophobia, but in most cases racism has nothing to do with a real phobia. Xenophobia may be a natural tendency in humans, as such behaviour is common among other animals.

    1.6. Literature review

    There are several authors who have written about the history of Asian, but not so much has been written on their identity and heritage in Kenya. There isn’t any material though on the issue of Asian integration in Kenya. Scholarly works are abound on the subject of racial and minority integration, racism and xenophobia worldwide.

    In People States and Fear: an Agenda for International Security in the Post Cold War Era, Barry Buzan points out to the fact that security whether individual, national, or international ranks prominently amongst the problems facing humanity. National security to Buzan is particularly central because states dominate many of the conditions that determine security. In order to have a proper understanding of the national security problem, one must understand the concept of security. Security is about the ability of states and societies to maintain their identity and their functional integrity.

    The security of human collectives is affected by factors in five major sectors of namely military, economic, political, environmental and societal. Military Security generally speaking, concerns the, two level interplay of the armed offensive and defensive capabilities of states and the states perception of one another’s intentions. Political Security concerns the organizational stability of the states systems of government and the ideologies that give them legitimacy. Economic Security concerns access to the resources, finance and markets necessary to sustain acceptable levels of warfare and state power. Environmental Security concerns the maintainance of the local and planetary biosphere as the essential support system on which other human enterprise depends. Societal Security concerns the sustainability within acceptable conditions of evolution of traditions, patterns of language, culture, and religion and national/community identity. These five sectors do not however operate in isolation from each other. Through Open Doors “A View of Asian Cultures in Kenya” by Cynthia Salvadori is a detailed account of the various Asian communities in Kenya. It is an authoritative insight into the cultural/religious practices of the various Asian groups. Salvadori traces the history and migratory process. The many cultural institutions and non-sectarian organizations also discussed.

    Asians have been very active politically particularly during the colonial period. In Uhuru and the Kenyan Indians, the Role of a Minority Community in Kenyan Politics” 1939 – 1963. Dana April Seidenberg traces the active role Asians have played in Kenyan politics, from the formation of political parities, the fight against colonialism, the establishment of the free press and trade unions as well as to the financing and offering material assistance to the early African nationalist.

    Dharam P. Ghai and Yash Pal Ghai, have compiled an anthology discussing contemporary issues of concern not only to the Asian community in east Africa but also the entire populace. In Portrait of a Minority, Asians in East Africa, Yash Pal discusses the early settlement, occupational pattern, race/social relations, economic tensions with Africans and political contribution of the Asians in east Africa. Agehananda Bharati offers an elaborate social survey of the Asians in east Africa, Dharam P. Ghai an economic survey while P.M Rattansi and M. Abdulla give insights in the educational survey.

    1.7. Conceptual framework

    In preparing such a study and analysing the resulting data, the work and theories of several researchers in the field of ethnic relations need to be looked into.

    1.7.1. Allport’s inter-group contact hypothesis

    Allport first described his hypothesis on inter-group contacts in his 1954 book “The Nature of Prejudice”, and it is one of the most widespread concepts in the study of ethnic relations. Allport’s hypothesis states that contacts with representatives of a different (ethnic) group can reduce biases toward that group, because such contacts enable the development of more appropriate ideas, the discovery of similar views and values, and, by extension, more positive attitudes and relationships.

    At the same time, however, positive influence emerges only from those contact situations which satisfy certain prerequisites – equal status between those who are involved in the situation, common goals, inter-group co-operation instead of competition, as well as normative support (authorities, leaders, laws, traditions). In other words, it is important that the contact experience be positive in nature.

    Studies all around the world have, generally speaking, confirmed Allport’s contact hypothesis, not only in regard to ethnic groups (even in those cases when contacts are rare and not too intensive – e.g., looking at the distance between a respondent’s home and the home of the nearest neighbours from a different ethnic group), but also with respect to other groups that sometimes are rebuffed – the elderly, gay and lesbian people, people with mental disorders, as well as differently abled people.

    Later studies that are based on Allport’s hypothesis have identified many other prerequisites that must be in place if positive attitudes toward other groups are to emerge.

    Several authors argue that it is not possible to determine whether measured attitudes have emerged because of contacts or whether they are perhaps the causes for contacts. In order to find out, longitudinal research is needed. Pettigrew has looked at various studies and suggested that although a reduction in biases has a great role to play in promoting contacts, the opposite process is much stronger (contacts first, reduced biases second). Neither is it clearly understood how attitudes toward one member of a certain group influence attitudes toward the group as a whole. One prerequisite for this kind of generalisation is that the encountered member of the group be seen as a typical representative of that group (the “salient categorisation strategy”).

    The fact is, however, that contacts are most often established by those representatives of different groups who are brought together by common interests and values, while other representatives of the different groups usually do not see those individuals as being typical of the group. This is why other authors (Brewer & Miller, 1984) insist that boundaries among groups must be reduced (the “decategorisation strategy”). This idea is based on the assumption that inter-group contacts are most positive if the groups are not particularly distinct.

    The way in which contacts influence attitudes is largely dictated by the previous attitudes and experiences of individuals (research shows that people with biases usually do not have friends from other nationalities). Also of importance are the legal and social norms which exist in a society, serving to promote or hinder the emergence of positive attitudes.

    Most studies have confirmed the contact hypothesis with respect to dominant attitudes among ethnic minorities, but some authors have suggested that minority attitudes cannot be explained all that clearly via this particular theory. One explanation is that representatives of the minority and the majority can perceive an identical contact situation in different ways. Minorities, for instance, may have stronger feelings about their lower status. Friendship is seen as a distinctly equal situation, one which largely promotes the generalisation of positive attitudes and the resulting elimination of biases, particularly among members of the majority.

    Forbes (1997) has called for a further study of a certain paradox – that individuals from different cultures form positive attitudes toward one another when they become more familiar with one another, while contacts between two different cultural groups usually facilitate conflicts. Forbes believes that relations among ethnic groups can better be analysed at the level of groups, not individuals.

    Several studies have shown that contacts with age group peers from different nationalities help in developing a more pluralistic orientation among adolescents – openness to various perspectives, the ability to understand those perspectives, the readiness to change one’s own views, and the readiness to accept people with different views.

    1.7.2. The theory of social identity

    The theory of social identity reviews individual psychological processes so as to explain differences among various groups. The primary thesis here is that it is very important for people to uphold a positive social identity, and belonging to various groups represents a part of that identity. People usually think highly of themselves and of the groups to which they belong, and that has a considerable influence on relations with other groups. When one compares one’s own group to another and concludes that one’s own group is not better than the other, but one continues to belong to the group, then the person looks for ways of upholding his or her group’s by forming negative attitudes toward other groups or by discriminating against other groups (Tajfel&Turner1979).

    Self-affirmation and self-expression through one’s belonging to a group serves to improve the individual’s psychological self-estimation. Groups embody the unique identity of individuals in such areas as religion, culture, art and language. These manifestations may seem harmless, but relationships among groups can become so negative that one group’s pride and cultural values can threaten others.

    Researchers have pointed out that in general terms, ethnic minorities tend to have a more distinct level of identification with their ethnic group than majorities do. Leonardelli & Brewer (2001) found positive relationships among minority representatives between satisfaction with one’s own group and biases toward other groups. Among majority representatives, in turn, there was a negative relationship between satisfaction with one’s own group and biases toward other groups. 1.7.3. Social dominance theory The Social dominance theory advanced by Sidaniu and Pratto, is based on the idea that there are ideologies in society which promote or reduce the hierarchy of various groups. Individuals do not always accept different ideologies to an equal degree (people seek social influence to a greater or lesser degree). People who distinctly want to dominate others try to promote group hierarchy and the influence of their own group versus other groups. In accordance with this approach, the dominance orientation of men is more distinct than that of women, and that helps to explain why men, in general terms, are more biased than women are. Blumer the psychologist who authored the concept of the group position model, feels that biases are based on ideas about a group’s status vis-à-vis other groups. Members of a dominant group feel a sense of superiority and think that other groups are completely different and alien, that they do not deserve specific rights, statuses and resources.

    Dominant groups often feel threatened, because other groups try to reduce their privileges. This approach is based on the assumption that members of a dominant group build a wall between themselves and other groups.

    Blumer thinks that biases usually emerge because of the dominant group’s feelings about its privileges in having access to resources and benefits that are limited in various ways but are of a high social standing (e.g., land, property, work, entrepreneurship, the ability to take political decisions, educational institutions, resources of leisure and entertainment, various prestigious positions and private life).

    If the dominant group feels threatened with respect to its “natural” rights, then it thinks that its status, power and survival are endangered. Fear and offence are the basis for generalised biases against people of other nationalities.

    1.7.4. The theory of group conflicts

    The theory of group conflicts is based on the idea that biases and discrimination are based on conflicts of interest among groups (LeVine & Campbell, 1972) Attitudes and behaviour toward other groups reflect the interests of groups and are largely dependent upon the goals of various groups and the ability of groups to merge those interests. Conflicts among groups, in other words, are based on competition over limited resources. Often it is believed that another group’s gains mean losses for one’s own group – the so-called zero-sum relationship.

    Here are some of the theses of the realistic group conflict theory: 1) Inter-group threats and conflicts expand along with an increasing feeling that there is competition over resources; 2) The greater the threats and conflicts among groups, the greater the expression of hostility which supposedly justifies the conflict and poor behaviour; 3) If there is competition over resources, contacts among groups tend to facilitate hostility.

    These are ideas, which have been confirmed, in many different studies. It has to be said that if the existence of competition over resources is important, then even more important is the extent to which people sense that competition. What’s more, inter-group conflicts usually exist at the level of groups, not individuals.

    1.8. Research hypothesis

    The more a people’s culture and identity acknowledged, respected and valued the more the perception of integration, the feeling of security and positive participation in national building.

    1.9. Research methodology

    The research will employ primary and secondary data, unstructured interviews and questionnaires. It will use both qualitative (in-depth interviews) and quantitative (a representative survey) methods.

    The use of several methods increases the validity of the study, because quantitative methods allow us to look at various views and attitudes with respect to communal tolerance, while the qualitative methods produce a more complete and in-depth understanding of human experience, motivations, biases and arguments in the area of ethnic issues and community integration. 1.9.1. The in-depth interviews Five in-depth interviews are to conducted with Asians so as to find out about their identity, history and heritage as well as experiences with respect to integration and everyday attitudes of Africans toward them. Respondents are to be drawn from Asian cultural associations in Nairobi. Five other in-depth interviews are to be conducted with Africans drawn from the general public in Nairobi and students/academicians from the University of Nairobi. 1.9.2. The surveys One survey to run among Asians and another similar one among Africans to learn about the spread of ethnic ideas, multiculturalism, biases and also about the mutual attitudes of Kenyans to the issue of Integration. A total of one hundred respondents are to be targeted.

    2.0. The Asian identity in Kenya.

    2.1. Introduction: The question ‘who am I?’ is as old as human history. Each of us seeks to know our personal identity and where and how we fit into the scheme of things so that we can make sense of our lives and plan for the future. An individual selects, or is given, a name that identifies the most important aspect of his/her existence. More often than not it has a religious connotation, in many societies the name is that of an ancestor. Politically orientated persons opt for events or renowned leaders and personalities. The name becomes a description of the person’s clan, ethnic and religious background and broad ideology.

    One’s identity does not exist in a vacuum, nor is it for all time. Identity is very much a reflection of the historical times we live in. But while an individual must be given an identity i.e. a name soon after she/he is born and it must be a ‘proper’ name, names given to communities are not selected, they are more often imposed according to the historical perception at the time. The identity we give ourselves must match our perception of ourselves.

    What therefore do Asians in Kenya perceive themselves to be? How are they perceived by other Kenyans? How do they answer the question who am I? 2.2. Defining Asians

    The Asian community is not as is not a single monolithic community as normally portrayed and perceived in Kenya. The complexity of Asian sectarianism, caste and religion can be so confusing. There are a number of cleavages which exist amongst the Asians. The subgroups formed by these cleavages are mutually exclusive in some of their activities and are sometimes antagonistic to one another when they perform or participate in common activities. The cleavages are based on the region of origin in India, linguistic differences, differences based on religion, sectarian beliefs and caste affiliation.

    Place of origin: Most Kenyan Asians come form northwest India, mostly from Punjab, these are the Sindh, Gujarat, Goa, Rajastan, and Maharashtra.

    Language: The majority of peoples from the northwestern parts of India speak punjabi (which may be written in either hindi or urdu), gujarati, cutchi, konkani among other languages.

    Religion: All the major religions in India are represented in Kenya. From Punjab there are hindus ( Sanatan Dharm, Arya Samaj) muslims (Sunnis and Ahmadiyya) sikhs (Namdhari and orthodox sikhs). From Gujarat there are zoroastrians, hindus (of many persuasions), jains (Swetambers, Derewasis, Sthanakwasis and Digambers) muslims (Shi’ites and Suni, Ismaili, Ithnasheri, and Bhora). From Kokan there are Suni muslims and from Goa there are catholic christians.

    Religion is the primary frame of reference within the Asian community. Culture in the Asian context is virtually synonymous with religion. It is therefore important to look at some of the religions in order to appreciate the culture and identity.

    2.3. The Zoroastrians (Parsi) The Zoroastrians are one of the smallest Asian communities in Kenya. They call themselves Parsi Zarathust. Meaning Parsi followers of Zoroaster. The religion was founded by Sitaman (660-538 BC). It has its roots in the ancient Indo-European culture out of which hinduism emerged. It started from ancient Iran and spread southwards through to Afghanistan and into the Indian sub-continent.

    When the British, French, Portuguese, Dutch moved into western India in the early 17th century, the Parsi quickly took advantage and had their artisans as middle men. They were also one of the first community to take advantage of western education. In 1820 for instance the Elphisone College was set up in Bombay (now known as Mumbai) with the British aim of “Developing a class of people Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, and in morals and in intellect”. The Parsi enrolled in mass. The Parsi then sent their children to England. In turn the Parsi rapidly moved up and reached the summit of society in British India, eventually becoming very wealthy. The first Indian to be honoured by a baronetcy was a Parsi. One of the most famous families in India are the Tata family (involved in steel, automobiles industries among others) they are equated to the American Rockefellers.

    2.4. THE HINDUS Hinduism is derived from Aryan culture. Aryans are sanskrit-speaking Indo-Europeans who came down from the steppes of central Asia into the Punjab (the land of five rivers). Aryans did not come in a single wave but in small trickles seeking pasture and raiding for booty. They had complex instructions for performing rituals which later coalesced into what are known as vedas (meaning knowledge) hence the religion of the Aryans is known as the vedic religion. Hindu religion principles are enshrined in the four vedas.

    2.4.1.The caste system.

    The original Aryan social system based in three classes solidified into a structure of castes. These are endogamous groups within which membership was determined by birth. The castes were called verna meaning colour. Derived in turn from the older sanskrit root vrni, meaning occupation. The light skinned Aryans comprise of the three upper castes, the Brahmins (priests) Kshatriya (warriors) and Vaishya (commoners- farmers, traders and the more refined artisans). The dark skinned Dasus (derived from the root dus- bad, evil) sometimes referred to as sudra, comprised the indigenous and basically Dravidian populations who were the less skilled artisans and common labourers (in Sanskrit these were the equivalent of serfs).

    Traditionally one’s work was determined by one’s birth since every occupation was hereditary within a particular sub-group of the four castes. Brahimin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. Within each caste there are sub groups known as gnati. (There are about 2000-3000 in India). Each gnati has its own individuality and within each gnati there are a number of clans of related families, generally bearing the same name. One cannot change the gnati either by marriage or conversion.

    Each gnati has its own panch, a council traditionally composed of five elders. The customs and laws of the community are handed down by tradition. It is up to the elders to clarify them, enforce them and settle disputes within the community. In contrast to Europe where law is conceived as an instrument of the secular state, in the Hindu world it is personal and immediate. The joint family is the basis of the legal system; the gnati is its framework. Even today the state courts are courts of last resort.

    When the first Hindus came to Kenya as merchants, indentured labourers, and professional people in private or government employment. The vast majority came as individuals. But as soon as they saw the opportunities, they began to bring over their families. Thus whole communities came to Kenya and with them they brought their own ways of managing their affairs and businesses. At first affairs were run by the elders, the head of the families lead by the most prominent family head (in terms of wealth and/or education). In time formal associations were created, mostly to comply with the formalities involved in buying plots of land and constructing community centers. Thus even though in a new environment various Hindu groups maintained their own identity. Almost all communities belong to the huge Vaishya caste, which incorporates farmers, traders and (most) artisans whereas the Brahmins are a caste by themselves.

    2.4.2. Some Individual Hindu communities in Kenya

    a) The Bhatia.

    The Bhatias have the longest known history in Kenya. They are a Gujarah merchant community, but their eponymous ancestor was a Rajput prince of Lahore. Bhatias were probably the first Hindu merchants to do business in Zanzibar. In 1870 the Sultan of Zanzibar posted a Bhatia (Jedewsui Deruji) as his chief customs controller in Mombasa. Bhatias are closely associated with Lamu. There was however a mass exodus of Bhatias from Lamu in 1920s because of the Mombasa bound steam trade replacing the old dhows.

    From their long association with the coast, Bhatias came to be nicknamed Swahili (coastals) and Swaly or Sually has became a Bhatia surname. Bhatias did not limit their interest to maritime trade, they took an interest in transport and some of them moved to Nairobi and by 1960 there were about 500-600 families in Kenya. Bhatias have a reputation for maintaining orthodoxy.

    b) The Bhoi Raj

    The Bhoi Raj (shree Rajput Bhoi) are of Kshatriya ancestry. They comprise the smallest Hindu community in Kenya. There are about 10 families in Mombasa, one in Nairobi and one in Kisumu .The traditional occupation of the Bhoi Raj in India is that of transport. Bhoi Raj from the parts of northwest India (Diu, Porbandar, Jamunagar and Veravel) came to East Africa at the turn of 20th century. The vast majority went to Tanzania. They constitute the largest single Hindu community there. Few came to Kenya and most remained in Mombasa. Majority were craftsmen, tailors, carpenters and tinsmiths. Once in Kenya a few entered into professions like mechanics, printing, teaching and clerks. The community built a small center near the Nyali Bridge in 1945. The members have a monthly get together on the occasion of the new moon, for most of the other Hindu religious events the Boi Raj join their fellow Hindus in celebrating at the major temples.

    c) The Brahmin.

    There is a common misconception that a Brahmin is a Hindu priest, however all priests are Brahmins (although this is different in the non- caste priests of Arya Samaj and Swami Narayan religions). In Kenya, Brahmins make up about 3% of the total Asian population . A Brahmin may be a priest (pujari, shastri) or an astrologer – palmist (jyotsi, joshi) a teacher (guru, shikshak) a farmer (khedut) a cook or confectioner (marja or rasoya). Being of the educated class, many Brahmins also served as administrators (Diwan Sahibs) in the multitudinous princely states of ancient India.

    Some of the very first Brahmins came to Kenya as confectioners. they opened small pastry shops, popular with all classes in Indian society. According to the laws of the old caste system, a person of higher caste cannot eat food prepared by a member of the low caste. But anyone can eat food prepared by a Brahmin. In India Brahmins are often employed as cooks in homes of wealthy non-Brahmins. The food restriction is not so strong in Kenya but even so it is the Brahmins who operate the many vegetarian restaurants owned by non- Brahmins. With the expansion of British rule, Brahmins begun coming to Kenya in clerical and professional capacities. One of the earliest and most illustrious was J.B Pandya, who arrived in 1907 from Bhangagar to work in the customs department. in 1922 he founded a printing press that published the English/Gujerati, Kenya Daily Mail. He was one of the leading Asians in national politics. In 1930 he became the only non- European member of the Governor’s Executive council and also a member of the legislative council.

    The Brahmins in Kenya are virtually all from Gujarat. They came from six main areas. They are known as Satar, Taluka, Modh Shrimai, Anori, Charator and Bardai Brahmins. The Nairobi Brahmins organized themselves and formed the Kenya Brahma Sabha in 1931/32. Their temple on Muranga road was opened in 1950, and was transformed into Laxmi Narayan Temple in 1970s. The Mombasa Brahma Samaj was founded in 1933. They built a rest house in 1941, enlarged it in 1946 and in 1984 they built an elegant temple. There are Brahmins Samajes in Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nairobi and Mombasa. Membership of Brahmin organizations are restricted by caste (mostly Gujarati).

  36. Minority Identity and National Integration: A Case Study of the Asian Community in Kenya

    By Philip Lumumba Ochieng

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    The idea of this research took root in my mind sometime in November 2004 after having seen an exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi), organized by the Asian African Heritage Trust. The theme of the exhibition was The Asian African Heritage: Identity and History. Since then many people have influenced its development and many more have helped and contributed in different ways for which I am extremely grateful.

    I would like to particularly thank Miss Kassam Shakila Kassam, Mr. Kirit Shah, Mrs. Radha Upadhyaya and the African Heritage trust, for their enlightening insights, access to literature and material, assistance in data collection and above all encouragement and positive support as I worked on this paper.

    I would also like to thank my project supervisor Dr. Egambi Dalizu for patiently guiding me throughout the research.

    Finally I would like to appreciate the work that my wife has done in terms of editing the manuscript as well as pointing out the mistakes and omissions of fact. I however take responsibility for any errors in this paper.

    LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

    EAC East African Community EAINC East African Indian National Congress EATUC East African Trade Union Congress IBEAC Imperial British East Africa Company IBEIC Imperial British East India Company ILS Indian Labor Society KAU Kenya African Union KFL Kenya Federation of Labour KFP Kenya Freedom Party KILTU Kenyan Indian Labour Trade Union LTUEA Labour Trade Union of East Africa ML Muslim League PSK Protective Society of Kenya RAU Railways Asian Union TUCM Trade Union Committee of Members

    Chapter One.

    1.1. Introduction …………………………………………………………………..…….…….. 8 Societal Security ………………………………………………………….…………….. 9 National Integration …………………………………………………….……………….. 11 1.2. Statement of research problem …………………………………..……………….…… 13 1.3. Goals and objectives ………………………………………………………..…….……. 13 1.4. Justification of proposed research …………………………………………………… .. 14 1.5. Definition of terms ……………………………..……………….……………………….. 15 1.6. Literature Review ……………………………………………………………….…..…. 21 1.7. Conceptual framework ……………………………………………….………….……. 23 Allport’s Inter-Group Contact Hypothesis ………………………………………..… 23 The Theory of Social Identity ………………………….…………………………….. 26 Social Dominance Theory …………………….……………………………………… 27 The Theory of Group Conflicts …………………..…….…………………………….. 28 1.8. Research hypothesis …………………………………………………………….. …. 29 1.9. Research Methodology …………………………………………………………….…. 30

    Chapter Two: Identity and Heritage

    2.0. The Asian identity in Kenya……… …………………………………………..……. . 31 2.1. Introduction ………………………………….………..…………………….………… . 31 2.2. Defining Asians ………………………………………………………………………. . 32 2.3. The Zoroastrians (Parsi) ………………………….…………………………………. 33 2.4. The Hindus …………………………………………………………………………….. 34 2.4.1. The caste system ………………………………………………..………………….. 34 2.4.2. Some individual Hindu communities in Kenya …………………….…………..…. 36 2.4.3. Hindu Umbrella Organizations ………………………………………….…….…… 45 2.4.4. The Sanatanist Associations ………………………………………………………. 46 2.4.5. Women Groups. …………………………………………………………………….. 47 2.4.6. Sects within Hinduism ………………………………………………………………. 47 2.5. The Jains ………………………………………………………………………………. 47 2.5.1. The rise of Jainism ………………………………………………………………….. 47 2.5.2. Jains in Kenya…………………………………………………………….………….. 48 2.5.3. The Oshwal Vanik. ………………………………………………………………….. 49 2.6. The Muslims ……………………………………………………………………………. 49 2.6.1.Sunni Islam ……………………………………………………………………………. 51 2.6.2. Shia Islam ……………………………………….…………………………………… 55 2.7. The Sikhs. ……………………………………………………………………………… 56 2.8. The Christians. (Goans) ……………………………………………………….……… 57 2.9. Asian migration into Kenya ……………………………..……………………….……. 58 2.10. The Asian heritage ………………………………………………………..….………. 61

    Chapter Three: Integration:

    3.1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………..…………… 65 3.1.1. Pluralism and multiculturalism………………………………………………………. 66 3.1.2. Assimilation …………………………………………………………………….…….. 67 3.2. Dimensions of integration………………………………..……………………………. 68 3.3. Soio-cultural integration ……………………………………..………………………… 69 3.4. Economic integration ………………………………………………..………………… 71 3.5 Political integration ……………………………………………………………………… 73 3.6. Survey …………………………………………………………………………………… 80 3.6.1. Overview …………………………………………………………..…………………. 80 3.6.2. Preparation of indexes. ……………………………………………………………… 81 3.6.3. Results and analysis of questionnaires …………………………………………… 84 3.7. Results and analysis of the in-depth interviews…………………………………….. 99 3.7.1. Description of interviews ……………………………………………………………. 99 3.7.2. Identity and history …………………………………………………………………… 99 3.7.3. Social contact/distance and stereotypes …………………….………………….… 102 3.7.4. Education systems and integration ……………………………….……………… 105 3.7.5. Economic integration ………………………………………………..……………… 107 3.7.6. Political integration ……………………………………………………………….…. 109

    Chapter Four: Conclusion:

    4.1. Identity……………………………………………………………..……. ……………. 112 4.2. Integration. ……………………………………………………………………………. 114 4.3. Way forward ………………………………………………..…………………….…… 118 4.4. Recommendations ………………………………………………….………….…….. 120 Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………….….…. 122

    Appendixes:

    Appendix 1. Comparison of Asian and Africans Responses…………………………. 127 Appendix 2 In-depth interview, Asian Respondents ……………………….………….. 135 Appendix 3 In-depth interview, African Respondents ………………………………….. 137 Appendix 4 Questionnaire for Asian respondents………………………….………….. Appendix 5 Questionnaire for African respondents …………………………………….

    Not Kenyan Enough

    “If I were black, People would hail me as one of the revolutionaries. If I were white, You would kiss my feet. If I were black, I would be a woman Working hard for her income using her talents. If I were white, I would be someone who Graced your functions as a welcome guest. But guess what?

    i’m not. I’M A MUINDI,

    I’m someone who’s apparently closed up And confined and hostile towards the locals because Everyone who shares this skin colour happens to be. I’m a suspicious character because I live here, Where everything about me is unwelcome. “Whatever I do is not enough. My charity isn’t wanted and my work is thrown in my face. It’s not enough because I’ll never be . . . Because I’m not . . . as you said, I’m not Kenyan enough. I’ll never be Kenyan enough because I’m not black. My child will never be Kenyan enough Because she’ll be the child of a whore. A Kenyan whore. That’s what I am.”

    Extracted from Not Kenyan Enough-By Marziya

    1.1. Introduction The question of identity, particularly ethnic or cultural is normally a sensitive one in Africa. This is mainly because these ethnic, racial, cultural and linguistic identities have been used as a vehicle to attain and/or deny “Others” social-cultural, political and economic opportunities.

    The presence of peoples from the Indian sub-continent in East Africa goes back well over three thousand years. The presence of peoples from Eastern Africa in India is also of long duration Many Asian families have been settled on the Coast, Lamu, Pate, Malindi, Mombasa, Pemba, Zanaibar, Bagamoyo and Dar-es-Salaam from the 1820s and earlier; but the development of our Asian minority as we know it today emerges from the 1880s.

    The need for us to know more about each other than what we do at present is critical, given the dangers of ethnic-based politics. It is equally critical for the future, given the fact that Kenya is composed not of one or two different minorities, but of forty four different minorities. It is therefore important for us as Kenyans to examine all our stories, all our heritages, all our struggles for our freedom, and all our culture, from every part of our country. And thereby, most importantly, write record, sculpt, dance, paint, and teach our history, the ideas that move us, and our aspirations

    With such a diverse ethnic and cultural reality it therefore becomes important to see the interaction between and amongst the minority groups. The nature of such interaction is an indicator of the level of integration or lack thereof.

    Societal Security

    One recent approach to the relationship between security and identity has been that of “societal security”. In the 1993 book Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe, Ole Waever, Barry Buzan, Morten Kelstrup, and Pierre Lemaitre argued that societal insecurities; insecurities over ethnic, national and religious identities, have become more and more important in relation to those over state sovereignty in contemporary Europe. This indeed could be said to be the case in Kenya, a nation of approximately forty-four ethnic nationalities.

    The term societal security was first used by Barry Buzan in the book: People, States and Fear (Buzan: 1991). Societal security was just one of the five sectors in his five-dimensional approach to security theory, along with military, political, economic, and environmental security. Here, however, all of Buzan’s dimensions, including the societal one, were still sectors of state security: Society, for example, was just one sector where the state could be threatened.

    In Identity, however, Ole Waever argues that Buzan’s previous five-dimensional approach had become ‘untenable’ as a present context for societal security (Waever: 1993, 25). As a result, he proposed a reconceptualisation of Buzan’s previous theory; not of five sectors of state security, but of a duality of state and societal security. Societal security is still kept as a sector of state security, but now it is also a referent object of security in its own right. Whereas state security is concerned about threats to its sovereignty (if the state loses its sovereignty it will not survive as a state), societal security is concerned about threats to a society’s identity (if a society loses its identity it will not survive as a society). Therefore, although the state is still a referent object for the military, political, economic, societal, and environmental sectors, ‘society’ is also a referent object for the societal sector.

    According to Buzan, societies are ‘fundamentally about identity’ (Buzan: 1993a, 6). Similarly, Waever argues that: The key to society is that set of ideas and practices that identify individuals as members of a social group. Society is about identity, about the self-conception of communities and individuals identifying themselves as members of a community (Waever: 1993, 24). In other words, societies are constituted by a sense of social identity, where at its most basic, social identity is what enables the word ‘we’ to be used (Waever, 17). He further points out that societal security concerns: the ability of a society to persist under changing conditions and possible and actual threats. More specifically, it is about the sustainability, within acceptable conditions for evolution, of traditional patterns of language, culture, association, and religious and national identity and custom.

    Threats to societal security can occur when societies perceive that that its ‘we’ identity is being put in danger. Those means which can threaten a society’s identity may range from the suppression of its expression to the interference with its ability to reproduce itself. According to Buzan, this may include ‘forbidding the use of language, names and dress, through closure of places of education and worship, to the deportation or killing of members of the community’. And that threat to the reproduction of a society can occur through the ‘sustained application of repressive measures against the expression of the identity. If the institutions that reproduce language and culture are forbidden to operate, then identity cannot be transmitted effectively from one generation to the next. Therefore, some threats to societal security may be military ones (killing members of the group, conquering historic territory). But, some threats may also be non-military ones (denying language rights, freedom of worship).

    It may also be important to note that , non-military insecurities may produce societal security dilemmas at the same time, non-military societal security dilemmas may produce conflict and that, existing (non-military) conflicts in certain extreme cases may lead to the collapse of multi-ethnic states.

    Often times there may arise a situation normally referred to a as The Societal Security Dilemma. A societal security dilemma might exist when the actions of one society, in trying to increase its societal security (strengthening its own identity), causes a reaction in a second society, which in the end, decreases it’s (the first society’s) own societal security (weakens its own identity).

    National Integration.

    The issue of integration is undoubtedly multi-faceted mainly because it can be approached from different angles, depending on the point of view of the commentator in this case the Asians or the Non-Asians. In order to assess the level of societal security one may need to look into the level of community integration. The more intergraded a society is the less insecure minorities within that society become.

    Integration generally refers to the inclusion of new populations into existing social structures and to the kind and quality of connection these new populations have to the existing system of socio-economic, legal and cultural relations. It is a complex, multilevel process. It may also take time from one generation to another. Milton Gordon and Hartmut Esser differentiate between four major dimensions of the integration; structural integration; the acquisition of rights and the access to positions and statuses by the immigrants; cultural integration or acculturation; cognitive, cultural, behavioral and attitudinal change of immigrants, but also of natives; social integration; development of personal relations and group memberships with native people; identificational integration; formation of feelings of belonging and identity in relation to the immigration, society.

    This research therefore intents to look into the issue of Societal Security with reference to the Asian African Community in contemporary Kenya, its heritage, its identity and national integration. It will at the same time endeavour to study biases, which dominate Kenyan public thought, and the level of tolerance or lack thereof.

    1.2. Statement of research problem This research shall endeavour to deal with the issue of identity and national integration. Look into what actually is the Asian identity in Kenya. How does this Identity and Heritage affect National Integration and vice versa, how is it affected by National integration, in other words to what extent is it a product of such integration. The problem to be handled in the research will include issues relating to xenophobia/racism, an examination of matters such as; stereotypes, exploitation, classism and its antecedent conflicts, perpetuated both by and against the Asian community as well as access to equal opportunities for business and employment in the civil service, political participation and cultural expression.

    The research shall look into the questions of multiculturalism, national integration , the developmental, religious and social activities of the Asian community in Kenya and finally possible strategies that may be adopted in order to foster the gains achieved since independence in the social, cultural, religious economic and political fields to enhance better understanding at the individual, community, national levels.

    1.3. Goal and objectives of the study The primary goal of the research is to examine the identity, history and heritage of the Asian community in Kenya, the nature of community integration vis-à-vis the national social fabric, and the challenges faced in social, cultural and political participation in contemporary Kenyan society. Objectives of the study

    1. To study theoretical approaches and studies about ethnic tolerance, bias, racism and xenophobia and integration, looking at the way in which previous research and theories could be useful for the study in Kenya.

    2. To use qualitative methods (in-depth interviews) to learn about Asian and African experiences on the everyday attitudes towards each other.

    3. To use literature review to elaborate and understand the history and heritage of the Asians in Kenya.

    4. To analyse the data that are extracted from the survey, comparing these with the results of the in-depth interviews.

    1.4. Justification of proposed research

    The Asian identity and presence has not been sufficiently represented in both history books and schools/universities, and an examination of the subject is long overdue. The need for a greater appreciation of the challenges of national integration in Kenya from an Asian perspective.

    1.5. Definition of terms

    a) Acculturation: Acculturation is the obtainment of culture by an individual or a group of people. The term originally applied only to the process concerning a foreign culture, from the acculturing or accultured recipient point of view, having this foreign culture added and mixed with that of his or her already existing one acquired since birth.

    Acculturation is the exchange of cultural features which result when groups come into continuous firsthand contact. Either or both groups of the original cultural patterns may be changed a bit, but the groups remain distinct overall. acculturation can be voluntary or forced. It is a second mechanism of cultural change. Acculturation involves different levels of destruction, survival, domination, resistance, modification, and adaptation of native cultures following interethnic contact.

    b) African: Indigenous inhabitants of Kenya. The Bantu, Nilots and Cushites.

    c) Asian: A person of South East Asian origin and descent. People who came from or whose descendants came from India or Pakistan.

    d) Assimilation: Assimilation is derived from Latin root assimilatio; which means”to render similar”. Cultural assimilation, is an intense process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically imigrants or other minority groups are “absorbed” into an established, generally larger community. This presumes a loss of all or many characteristics which make the newcomers different. A region or society where assimilation is occurring is sometimes referred to as a “melting pot”

    Assimilation can be voluntary, which is usually the case with immigrants, or forced upon a group, as is usually the case with the receiving “host” group. Where national groups are strongly urged to assimilate, there is often much resistance in spite of the use of governmental force. If a government puts extreme emphasis on national unity and identity, it may resort, especially in the case of minorities originating from historical foes, to harsh, even extreme measures to ‘exterminate’ the minority culture, sometimes to the point of considering the only alternative its physical elimination (expulsion or even genocide).

    Assimilation can have negative implications for national minorities or aboriginal cultures, in that after assimilation the distinctive features of the original culture will be minimized and may disappear altogether. This is especially true in situations where the institutions of the dominant culture initiate programs to assimilate or integrate minority culture.

    e) Cultural herigate: Cultural herigate is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Often though, what is considered cultural heritage by one generation may be rejected by the next genera

  37. Dear Mr Lumumba, that is very fascinating work. I was especially touched by the poem by Marzia you included. I was also intrigued by the origin of the Sually community. All in all your dissertation is an invaluable resource for the indian diaspora. This may not be the best forum for your work but i would be keen to read more of it. it is pretty straightforward to put the document online via one of google online tools and post the link to the same in the sidebar.

    thank you and my congratulations on completing an excellent research study.

  38. It’s ;ong since I visited this site, however there is a time and place for everything. @ MEHUL, Interesting Points you bring up. I also noticed that you still use the words “Kenyan” and “Indian” separately. This already explains to me why some inidnas have a hard time integrating, i.e. Because you already do not think of yourself as a kenyan. Thus If you do not exude the confidence to portray yourself as a kenyan, then how do you expect others to view you as such?

    I agree, both black kenyans and kenyan indians have to come together and learn more about each other’s cultural similarities/ differencees, etc. P.LO.’s paper is an excellent source for everyone to know more about the history of the kenyan indians.

    I notice that you take offense to being sort of bullied/ insulted by touts, at school, to the point that indian kids have to eb sheltered from those “bad black kenyans” by taking them to exclusive kenyan schools. Well I look at it differnt. You were born in kenya, so was your father/mother and also your Grandfather. In short, Kenya is your country, You cannot go abck to India as that will be a foreign land to you with foreign customs. So It would make more sense for you to embrace kenya as your home, despite the rough patches, and no country is perfect. At the same time, when someone hurls an insult at you for being indian, YOU SHOULD NOT BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE GROUND like an ostrich and complain of “how bad” it is. Forgive my language, but SHIT! If you know ur a kenyan, then why should you let anyone else tell you better? To be honest, you are a kenyan minority and in most countries, minorities have to stand up and fight for their rights. Your rights will never be given to you ona silver easy plate, you have to fight and command your respect!

    SINGH, Very good to hear you have embraced kenya kabisa. It’s also good you speak punjabi swahili and english. I always insist embracing your kenyanness should not be at the expense of your indian heritage; Those two cultures should complement each other, Thus Kenyan Indian,a Kenyan with Indian ancestry and you shold be proud of both heritage and wear them proudly.

    In all Honesty, I think the indian kids go thru the same experience as a black kid. This is coz most kids first learn their mother tongue, a sthey enroll in school they learn english nd swahili. The only advantage the black kenyan kid will have is that he’ll have a wider audience to speak/ practice swahili with before formally learning it.

    @ NERRO: You should be deported back to whatever country you came from. Your views are very RETROGRESSIVE and is the reason some black kenyans have trouble with their indian brethren.How would you even enjoy your wealth in eknya with such extremist views ? Fortunately, not all kenyan indians agree with your very skewed viewpoint.

    I also agree with the notion of kenyan indians Vs Indian immigrants from the subcontinent itself. I once went to shop on standard street, I think it was TBC and the indian guy who came to assist me could not comprehend swahili or english, and I was like ???????? That’s when I noticed he wasn’t kenyan, he had a strange foreign accent and could barely communicate in any audible language.At the same time I understand the need for immigrants to band together just like in Perth, However, this does not continue to perpetuity. It usually just last for a single generation or two at most.But It’s also good to try and mix with the wider community as an immigrant as opposed to just living in isolation.Most immigrant communities eventually assimilate though. I’m sure even those kenyans in perth, one they get kids, their kids will fully integrate and assimilate into the greater Aussie society, BUT Still maintain the African heritage.

  39. I am a Malayalee from Kerala, who has grown up in Mumbai and have been living in Doha, Qatar for the last 18 years. I visited Nairobi last week. I have visited London, Paris, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore over the years. Indians generally tend to stay in one or two areas in each of these cities. Within these areas, we further split into our respective religious and regional groups. Talk about assimilation!! We are not even united as Indians. We think of ourselves as Malayalees, Tamils, Bengalis, etc and within this, we think of ourselves as Christians, Hindus, Muslims etc. We even socialise within our own regional and religious groups. We have to learn to become part of the communities we live in. In the Middle East, where we are just “work visit” visa holders, most of us do not know to speak the local language. We consider ourselves superior to the locals and other nationalities, even though a major chunk of Indians work as labourers and housemaids. In the other parts of the world. the Indian-majority areas are generally the dirty and Indians are considered as “cheap” always looking for a discount. The living areas of Indians in Malaysia is pathetic. Your introduction to Indians in UK is at the airport, when you see the cleaners and the porters. Remember, they are citizens- many of them 3rd generation.If we are so smart, why is it that Britishers of Indian origin are working in blue-collared jobs in UK? But when they come to the Middle East, they have a superiority attitude to the Indians from India – they will not mingle with them and look down upon them. Talk about racism-the whites are better! If we want to assimilate, then our women have to stop wearing cheap nylon saris, our men have to stop talking loudly and have to sit still in a place.Our men should stop staring at women and stop making comments about women, thinking that it is okay to do so. We have to dress up better and show better manners- our grandparents probably behaved better. I am saying this because the lack of manners and dress-sense is what drives me crazy about reasonably well-placed Indians settled abroad. We behave worse than the labourers from the developed countries.I have experienced this during my holidays abroad and my stay in Qatar. People dont like us because of our behaviour and the way we dress up – cheap, cheap, cheap. The Arabs are into designer, the Westerners are generally fit and well-dressed, the Indians are getting better, but have a long way to go – lose the oil and the cheap saris and salwars.During my holiday in Nairobi, I was treated well by the black Africans and was “stared at” by a lot of Indians. The icing on the cake was on the flight from Nairobi, where we had a big group of Kenyan Indian families, who talked incessantly throughout the flight, then kept on changing seats, walked triumphantly down the aisle grabbing freebees from the flight attendants and finally walked out of the plane with blankets. Let me tell you, that I was happy that I was an Indian from India- we said those are Kenyans.

  40. Yes but i think the problem is the Indians propensity to alienate themselves from the Kenyans. I mean could you imagine being in your own home and seeing other people come in and become more prosperous than you could ever dream? Of course there is a policy of not to race mixing with the Africans and we can all agree that what the British did to India and Kenya was wrong, that being said I believe that until the unequal treatment of the Kenyan population is addressed then i would believe that they would never have love truly for Indians.As for working for an Indian who is going to talk bad about there boss at the cost of losing their job? As we see in South Africa whites are feeling cheated as the south African government has made it hard for them.