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. in short order, indians built businesses, hired black kenyans to do the work, and banked their considerable profits.
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.” Continue reading