having posted on a few discussion boards about the kenyankalasingha website, we were pleasantly surprised to get responses from ex-kenyans who now reside in other countries. it is heartening to notice that despite their absence from kenya for many decades, they still hold a soft spot of their former country of birth / residence. even as we try to weather the current political storm sweeping through kenya, many of us still love the country just as much. there is something magical about this place that makes us adore this land so much. only got holds the mystery of that secret, because as far as we are concerned, we simply have no clue why!
check out of the comments made on the kenyankalasingha project across various discussion boards:
lakhvinder singh writes: many years back i was in mombasa, kenya. while walking on the road i was also called kalasingha by africans. i enquired about it and was informed by local sikhs that in early 1900s there was a sikh called kala singh who came to kenya. he was a merchant and in the beginning used to peddle his goods in remote areas of kenya. while on tour he used to take life saving drugs for first aid in treating some illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea etc. he used to distribute these drugs free to the needy persons. in other words, he was a moving red cross for those who had no access to medicines in those parts. he became a sviour for them. africans started loving him. that is the reason he is still adored. all sikhs in kenya are called by that name.
bharat v singh writes: in kenya, kalasingha was the term used to describe a singh or sikh with turban, beard, etc. this was the word coined by the natives on the basis of a true story about some great deed done by some historic singh in east africa, and this singh was apparently called kala singh by name. so the africans started calling all singhs by the name kalasingha. so when you name your website kenyankalakingha, it sends out a well-recognized message that the website is about sardars from kenya, east africa. and anybody reading the name would understand, esp if he/she was from east africa or had any old connections.
harbhajan singh sangha (born in India, raised & educated in kenya (nairobi), now residing in canada) writes: there is a factual background as to why the whole of the sikh community is referred to by this unusual appellation of kalasingha mostly by the africans. a sturdy, tough and an adventurous sikh from the state of patiala migrated to kenya in 1896 at the age of 16. his name was kala singh. He started a progressive business under the name of munshiram & co. and became engaged in a very wide-spread business activities. he travelled through forests, barren lands and mountains, all in the times when there were no means of travel in any form. his exclusive adventures brought him in touch with the indigenous tribal people. kala singh particularly opened up the masai reserve and made it accessible for people other than the masai. this assisted in progress in trade and easy contacts for better understanding for the different peoples of kenya. the traits and qualities of kala singh are still persistent in the sikhs in east africa so they are referred to as kalasinghas.
there are other random thoughts of ex-kenyan sikhs, which reflects the nostalgia of many:
‘we miss the jambo and asante way of life. punjabi way of life is fun in nairobi and mombasa!’
‘i lived in kenya for 5 yrs and NOTHING beats that.’
‘I am from mombasa. my mummy was a jatti and my daddy a black tribesmen – masai.’
‘o man kampala is boring big time. i think nothing beats lifestyle of sikhs in kenya! punjabis of mombasa rule, man!’
‘i was born in kenya in the late 50s and we left for the uk in the 60s – man, we cried, i tell you! anyway, after spending almost 30yrs in the uk, i am now looking to emigrate to the USA or Canada (cant make my mind up yet!). i have already been offered Canadian immigration but still have time before i make the big jump! in the USA, if i decide to emigrate, i will be looking to open a small franchise, say a KFC or something. i know, i know, we kenyans do not do that sort of thing but you gotta make a living somehow! gone are the days when we used to ask damangi or jaluo to spashi heo vayombo [ 😉 ] or playka kitoo hiyo hookoe!! [ 😉 ] we goota do everything ourselves now! so please, all you banakoobas [ 😉 ] out there in the USA, drop me a post on this site if you can – be great to talk to you!’
‘i would advice new zealand [to settle] for all kenyan [sikhs] . . . those good days are long gone when the kale used to clean our yards and drive us here and there . . . i miss kenya . . .’‘well, hello there, shera in auckland! karibuni, doogoo [ 🙂 ]! hali yaa kaazi? its really surprising how us doogoos have spread around the world since kenya, isnt it? i had an aunt in NZ too; lived in a place called te puke (dont know which island that is, north or south?), but she expired a few years ago. i dont know about settling in the usa, as you say. my relatives are already there and are very happy. as for canada, well you can see from some of the postings on this site, what kind of paindoo mentality peeps they have there! ive been to canada many times and i just cant belive how these people go about their lives there–i mean, most of them have gone there straight from india, so have not seen anything better, and consequently think they are above anybody else. my god, man, once when i first went to canada, iwas semi lost in town, so i saw an old guy walking around and thinking he would certainly help me, i walked over to him and said sasrikaal [ 🙂 ] (and this is before i even asked him for help), and he replied, “kyon, koi kum hai….?”!! see what i mean. take walk to malton and look at what they have done to the town. there’s crap all over the place, people spitting on pavements…you name it. so, there you are. this si the reason why i am edging towards the usa. mind you, its almost the same story in the usa too – the paindoos have the same attitude there too. when they see another sikh brother, they just turn their heads the other way!!!!!!! you gotta agree, we never did that in kenya; neither do we do that in the uk. so keep in there, bwanakooba [ 🙂 ]. we gotta stick together and keep the doogoo movement going, eh? haya, kwaheri, bwana, ana onana saa anginay, sidiyoh? [ 🙂 ]’‘mzee kalasingha ni aje bwana!! vitu una sema ziko 100 percent true . . . canada is full of small minded sardars . . . kenya is all a very diffrent world . . . i lived in mombasa and what i saw was incompassionately different from uk and canadan sikhs . . . ple stick together and the doogoo movement moves on and u are quite true that the canadian sikhs live their own lives . . . overall as my dad says its very very difficult for kenyan sikhs to live in other western countries . . . there are about 8 families here from kenya and all are here with one motive . . . study and leave coz this country is so small and opportunities are limited still alot better than canada and the usa and even better than australia . . . haile doogoo movement’.habari gani, bwanakooba? saa mimi naa ona email yako, rohoe yangoo rukwa na furai sana! lekini swahili yangoo iko baya kidogo, sababu hiyo kalasingha ya london iko kidogo sana, na hava piya apana jua swahili mingi! lekini mama ana baba yangoe na jua ko sema swahili kabisa; sababu hiyo mimi kusha anza ku sema swahili mara anginay! anyway, phew! as i say, my swahili is not too good! but ever since we came over from kenya, my parents and myself have always tried to converse now and again in swahili, so as to keep the language going. bear in mind i was only ten yrs old when we got out of kenya! i’m surprised that there actually are kenyans in new zealand; most of us either came to the uk or went to the usa. i try and keep together with most of the doogoos here; we usually find that even if we have never met, whenever a doogoo meets another in the town, we always say hello, etc, unlike the “watu ya hooko.” (i am sure you know who i mean!).’‘kitoo gani? mimi ruqua na andika barua kwa website hiyo, lekini doogoo yango ilay ana toka kenya/uganda/tanganyka bado andika! come on, all you doogoos out there! lets hear from you all! long live the doogoo movement and spirit!’
with these few (hilarious) comments, we are confident of the pulling power this website and blog will have on the sikhs in kenya and also help inform the world about our glories and groans. 😉