- Indian Kenyans are now officially recognized as the 44th tribe in the country
- The community has gone through major hurdles in the many years of its presence
- In the political and social spheres, the Indian Kenyans were never considered an important part of the country to uplift
New Delhi, July 26, 2017: Indian Kenyans community has been recognized as the 44th tribe in the country. But the people have had to wait and fight a long battle to earn it.
Signs of Indian Diaspora in Kenya can be traced back to 17th century. The migration of labor from India to Kenya during the British Empire’s conquests was in considerable numbers. After the emergence of nationalism, Indians were part of the freedom struggle for Kenya.
Sana Aiyar, a historian, estimates that 2% of the total population was Indian diaspora at the time of Independence of Kenya. They were employed in sectors like wholesale and manufacture. More Indians were concentrated in the capital, Nairobi, estimated at 30% of the total.
Indians poured into Kenya in various professions. Punjabis served as labor for construction of railways in the country. Gujaratis established businesses and became prominent in the markets. Many Indians also came to East Africa to serve the British Army.
Soon, the presence of Indians and Europeans led to the formation of a social heirarchy wherein the Europeans acquired the top of the pyramid, Indians/ Asians at the middle while the native people were left at the bottom.
But Indians were not given political representation. For a long period of time, having been faithful and passionate for Kenya, Indians were not acknowledged. While Indians of Kenyan descent considered their individual identity more closely associated with Kenyan culture, they remained invisible to the governments. In the political as well as social life, Indian Kenyans were never recognized as an integral part of society at large.
Quoted in the New York Times report, Kenyan Parliament’s First Asian descent member said that despite enjoying the economic life in Kenya, Indian Kenyans are excluded from the political and social life.
Now officially recognized as the 44th tribe of the country, Indian Kenyans can now have a confident sense of identity and get accultured with the Kenyans more comfortably. With the recognition, Indian diaspora’s effort in independence and nation-building has been accepted.
– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394