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Adam Michel

Indians and Others: Worlds Unknown to Each Other—Extracts of reports from the Kenyan press

Michel Adam

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  • 1 The nationalist and xenophobic ideas developed in India by the right wing of the NJP or other extre (...)

1The Brahman Hinduist perception of the external world is characterized by preventing contact and selective avoidance, illustrated by the banning – actually caricature-like and not much respected – of crossing the seas for fear of exposing oneself to the risk of uncontrolled contamination. Maintained by the practice of endogamy in the community (sometimes mistaken for endogamy within a caste) and by other measures of relational restrictions (such as supervision of commensality), these restrictions, of a strictly social and religious nature, have frequently been likened, but often wrongly, to xenophobic behaviour (or even racist) when they were undoubtedly particular socio-religious manifestations that were complex in nature, coupled with a truly universal1 ethnocentric behaviour. Moreover, it is worth noting that these representations did not stand in the way of the very important emigration of Indian populations. Eventually, they did not even prevent intermarriage and intercultural intermingling, as is the case in Mascareignes and the Caribbean.

  • 2 For a Hindu vegetarian, explains Neera Kapur Dromson, a carnivorous consumer is not a consumer of m (...)

2In East Africa, relations between Indians and representatives of the African or European populations have in addition suffered from the colonial situation, which gave birth to reciprocal prejudices coupled with attitudes of mistrust and sometimes hostility. Held under European dominion but placed in socially dominant positions in relation to Africans, the Indians all the more easily adopted the prejudice of the former that they agreed, at least partially, with the hierarchic division that is peculiar to the caste system. Africans were confined to a culture that involves close contact and primary manipulation of organic nature (plant and especially animal and human). They were considered hunters, animal slaughterers, consumers of meat, blood and other impure foods and held in low esteem by European colonizers since they occupied subordinate ranks. Thus, in Africa, Africans were in a way doomed to occupy a position comparable to that of inferior castes in India or more of outcastes (‘untouchables’ and tribal populations) to which they resembled through certain traits (immoderate consumption of meat products, sacrifices involving blood, several manual tasks involving frequent contact with dirty substances). Even today, many Hindu families cannot withstand immolation of poultry or even the smell of roast meat on barbecues2 among possible African neighbours.

  • 3 Kapur-Dromson 2007: 2.
  • 4 This change of attitude came at a time when African servants were not even allowed to fill up a car (...)

3Terms formerly used by Indians to describe Africans – though they are now a taboo – were habshan (a sort of ogre or bogeyman used to scare children)3 or even kala-kala ( “black-black”), the black colour being systematically disparaged as is also the case in matrimonial matters when it comes to choosing a spouse. While these prejudices have nowadays tended to disappear – particularly in the new generation, Indians used to establish distinctions between the African ethnic groups, without even knowing that these distinctions had been inherited from colonial caricatures born in European circles. This explains why the Somali (also Muslim, but nevertheless kept at a distance because of their supposed warlike nature), the Swahili (also Muslim and Arabised), and the Maasai (although occasional consumers of cattle blood) obtained a superior status in the eyes of Indians. As a counterpoint to the multiple biases, and without going up to the extent of exogamic behaviours as mentioned in a preceding chapter, it is noteworthy that many Indian families are currently employing African cooks, even if it means sometimes restricting them to the preparation of accompaniments and desserts while the preparation of the main dish is done by the woman of the house4.

4It has been pointed out in the introductory chapter of this book that, living close to them for more than a century – and sometimes even more for Creole families – Indians have borrowed very little from African cultures. Except for some cases (Ahmadiyya or Ismailia - who had only very little success in their venture), Indians have not further sought to convert Africans to their own religions, particularly Hinduism, as this type of conversion is never envisaged in India. However, it happened that a Hindu Lohana expert based in Nakuru (Hirji Baba) exceptionally started converting Africans, mainly Gikuyu and Luo in 1960s. Having acquired Indian names, these new followers equally adopted other traits of the Hindu culture, clothes, nutrition (vegetarianism) and even usage of Gujarati language. Their number never exceeded a dozen people.

  • 5 It could be mentioned that the already old memorandum of 1st March 1986 in which the members of the (...)
  • 6 Concerning intercommunity antagonism, it is worth mentioning the one pitting Indian businessmen on (...)

5For some decades now, the Indians’ perception of Africans has undergone major revisions. Economic leaders of the diaspora can denounce abuse of dominant positions sometimes committed by heads of companies of Indian origin5. Today, there are many examples of business associations and professional partnerships which are successful and long lasting, without mentioning the friendly or sometimes even matrimonial relations that may be established during these partnerships or in other contexts of social life. However, as shown by Marie-Aude Fouéré in this book and as already previously discussed, such an evolution encounters some obstacles, both social and political6.

The Africans’ perception of Indians

  • 7 A mildly derogatory term with colonial origins referring to all British civil servants of Indian or (...)

6Among Africans, a simplistic and globalizing view of Indians persists, without knowing their religious and cultural differences. The term “Indian” is inclusive and brings out a necessarily depreciative and unfriendly image to a certain number of Africans. In fact, for decades, having lost access to land and communicating with the African peasantry only through the authoritative voice of a policeman or a government official (babu)7, or even through mercenary means of small businesses that were more frequent, the majority of Indians gave an alternating double image of themselves corresponding to the two functions assigned by European settlers: on the one hand, agents of colonial power; on the other, insensitive and rapacious shopkeepers.

7These caricature perceptions left strong marks on people’s mind. After the colonial period, Africans commonly referred to Indians using the term banyan, a name of Gujarati origin meaning “merchant”. Nowadays, Africans have a tendency to describe Indians as individuals destined by nature or in essence to business. This perception goes along with the usual stereotypes associated with professions attached to making profits: deception of customers, disproportionate gains, resorting to usurious forms of credit (which is actually avoided or even strongly condemned by a majority of Indians of Muslim faith). This being the case, the majority of Africans do not know that a good number of Indian immigrants come from rural families practicing agriculture in their countries of origin and that some of them opted for business careers by default after the British settlers were opposed to their settlement as agriculturalists.

8In an article published in 1974 in the Journal of African Studies, the African historian M. Nyaggah attempted to put together a collection of grievances presented to representatives of Indian communities by Africans (Nyaggah 1974: 205-233).

  • 8 The author mentions higgledy-piggledy: very high daily food rations during the construction of the (...)
  • 9 Isolating this incident from its context, the author mentions the case of Alibhai M. Jeevanjee, an (...)

9In the first instance, Indians played the role of colonial assistants during the period of British occupation, a role which, according to the writer, they refuse to acknowledge today. This collaboration earned them privileged treatment compared to Africans (better salaries, better schools, and better treatment in terms of taxation)8. This partly explains the solidarity of Indians regarding the anti-colonial struggle waged against the British9.

  • 10 “Kenyan Indians do not fully associate themselves with community life (national). Their principal o (...)
  • 11 A poll conducted in 1972 in Kenya indicates that a majority of Africans were ready to accept the pr (...)

10Secondly, the commercial supremacy of Indians goes along with incessant abuse of dominant positions (exorbitant profits, excessive demands on African employees, insufficient salaries, usury etc). Already in the 19th century, adds the author, the Arabs of Zanzibar accused Indians of ruining their copal, gum and ivory trade, and denounced seizures of buildings when mortgage loans were not reimbursed. Generally, Indians show little attachment to Africans and to their adoptive countries. For a long time, they have been reluctant to become citizens of these countries. Many among them keep foreign passports in spite of numerous prohibitions expressed in the period after independence. They live away from Africans and their children do not attend the same schools. Very few of them engage in mixed marriages whereas, on their side, Africans have no inhibitions to this practice. With the exception of a minority, Indians have not been politically engaged since the period of independence or have only accepted to participate in order to defend their own interests10. Their philanthropy is self-serving and calculated, and only serves to mask their predatory behaviour11.

  • 12 Celebrated in October or November according to the lunar calendar, Diwali marks the New Year in Nor (...)

11Finally, Indians display customs foreign to the traditions of their adoptive countries in an ostentatious and provocative manner. There is for example the Diwali festival (Indian New Year) during which fireworks are let off every night, without considering the disturbance that may be caused to their African neighbours12.

  • 13 There is no recent poll on this subject. In the beginning of the 1960s, a poll conducted on 129 1st(...)

12Like is the case of Indians towards Africans, the perceptions that the latter have of members of the diaspora changed after some years and even more during the recent period. Some prejudices have certainly disappeared and this evolution has left space for egalitarian relations based on contractual or friendly cooperation. However, the gap between the communities is far from over. Having not, without exception, lived in the same neighbourhoods, attended the same educational institutions, participated in the same games, having few common memories to share, Africans frequently perpetuate a fantasized ignorance of the representatives of the diaspora13.

  • 14 Among the many African-Indian enterprises, some could definitely be the subject of complaints from (...)
  • 15 Principal fraud denounced by African critics, yet commonly practiced by African businessmen themsel (...)

13Thanks to the extraordinary social ascension of the Indian community, the view developed by Africans is equally charged with negative stereotypes of a new kind, adding to those already existing in the collective imagination. Two clichés associated, not to the small shop owner (dukawallah) but to the company head or to the big financier, have taken course today in certain African circles, disregarding the fact that the flaws attached to them are not inherent to a particular group but are found just as much within the communities to which their accusers belong. The first, rather widespread among the working classes and farmers, is that of an exploitative and miserly employer, but also authoritarian and insensitive, cutting down salaries, contemptuous, or even racist towards the workers14. The second cliché, mainly held by opposition political parties, corresponds to the image of a financier who gets political connections through lobbying. They are thus considered corrupters, tax evaders, and money launderers15. Below is a summary of a selection of articles published in the Kenyan press giving an account of these different points of view, notably on the occasion of some events marking the history of Indian Kenyans: the anti-Indian riots of 1982 and their impact up to 1985; the campaign waged from 1996 to 1998 by Kenneth Matiba, chairman of FORD-Asili, an opposition party to the dominant party in power.

The African-Indian relationship according to the Kenyan press from 1978-1999

1978

    • 16 A town in Central Kenya.

    Indian business owners in Embu16 are accused of discriminatory attitudes towards Africans, preferring to use their vacant premises as warehouses rather than rent them out to Africans (Standard, 21 October 1978).

1979

    • 17 Commissioner of Kakamega district in Western Kenya.

    The DC (District Commissioner) of Kakamega17 criticizes Indians of having kept away from the Kenyatta day celebrations. He warned them of severe actions in future (Standard, 23 October 1979).

  • The Standard announces that 25000 Indians are holders of British passports (Standard, 19 September 1979).

1980

    • 18 A Kenyan politician of British origin belonging to an old colonial era family.
    • 19 A classical way of appealing for collective solidarity in Eastern Africa, it was also a watchword f (...)

    Philip Leakey, assistant minister for Environment18 appeals to non-African Kenyans to participate more in harambee19 projects. He denounces the fact that Indians preferred to dedicate their money to motor racing rallies and sporting circles. He finally criticizes Indians for their propensity to promote donations of an advertising nature (Standard, 26th September 1980).

1981

    • 20 Political party in power at that time.

    The Minister for tourism criticizes Indians for not accomplishing their responsibilities as citizens, ignoring KANU20 meetings, and charging high rents in order to eliminate African traders (Standard, 23rd February1981).

  • The Minister for transport declares that a bill will be presented which will compel foreign companies to distribute 51 % of their shares to the public. He accuses Indians of tax evasion, taking away capital, and wastage of fuel in motor racing rallies (Standard, 8th April 1981).

  • KANU accuses Indians of underpaying Africans (at the rate of 10 to 12 shillings a day) and treating them as slaves. It also condemns the employment of Indian immigrants without work permits (Daily Nation, 28th December 1981).

1982

  • President Moi accuses Indian businessmen of sabotage. He condemns their illicit investment of money abroad. (Daily Nation, 23rd February 1982) Two months later, nevertheless, the minister for livestock urged Kenyans not to take Indians as their scapegoats. (Daily Nation, 8th April 1982)

  • The Kenyan police pursue and arrest rioters who, on 1st August 1982, had looted and vandalized Indian shops and had raped several women, (the Kenyan press of 2nd August 1982).

  • The Daily Nation, newspaper controlled by the Aga Khan, does an approximate toll of the riots of 1st August 1982: hundreds of Indian businesses and dozens of African businesses were destroyed, several women raped. Several Indians injured but none killed, 159 Africans rioters killed by the police. (Daily Nation, 7th September 1982)

1983

  • In rebellion against the conservatism of his community, the young Shailesh Adalja (26 years old), a rich Indian businessman and playboy, pleads in favour of Indian integration, but with respect for cultural differences (Kenya Times, 2nd February 1983).

  • President Moi strongly criticizes Indians (notably the Ithnasheri) of engaging in the illicit export of capital to the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan and Iran (Standard, 23rd February 1983).

  • The Kenyan journalist Philip Ochieng publicly condemns widespread prejudice among Africans against Indians (Daily Nation 10th April 1983).

  • The Standard newspaper denounces the practice by property agents to display “Strictly for Indians only” (Standard, 12th April 1983). There were numerous reactions in all the daily newspapers.

  • President Moi condemns xenophobic acts against Indians, particularly in Kisumu (Sunday Standard, 8th May 1983).

  • According to the African opinion, the Kenya Times affirms that Indians are essentially “rich, miserly, secretive, arrogant, contemptuous towards Africans and, all in all, insular.” They settled in Kenya with the exclusive aim of making money. Once the fortune is made, they will leave the country. Thus Indians do not deposit their money in the Kenyan banks in order to easily transfer it abroad (Kenya Times, 15th August 1983).

  • A delegation of Kenyan Indian communities is received by president Moi to show their loyalty to the country. (Daily Nation 15th August 1983) On his part, president Moi warned the Indians against the illegal transfer of money abroad. He is pleased that 900 Indian Kenyans became life members of KANU (Standard, 15th August 1983). He urges Indians to put an end to non-declared importations of textiles and accuses some of them for not respecting the laws of the country. He criticized the Indian tourism agencies which carry out, according to him, an anti-patriotic propaganda among foreign visitors (Kenya Times, 16th August 1983).

  • The young Shailesh Adalja publicly declares that Indians have to give up endogamy and that Indian companies should distribute 25 % of their capital to Africans. He denounced the tax evasion practiced, according to him, by a good number of Kenyan Indians (Kenya Times, 21st December 1983).

1984

  • The Minister in charge of water resources development urges Indians to participate more in the development of the country. (Standard 25th June 1984)

  • President Moi accepts to participate in the Diwali festivities and assures that he will be on watch to prevent any discrimination towards every category of citizens (Standard 26th October 1984).

  • On the occasion of Diwali, Shailesh Adalja concludes his campaign exhorting the Kenyan Indians to get more integrated into the nation (Kenya Times, 8th November 1984).

1985

  • Mr Alijah Ename, vice-president of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, accuses Indian industrialists and businessmen of having hindered Africans’ economic prosperity. He observes that Indian businessmen buy their merchandise directly from manufacturers (themselves Indians) while Africans go through wholesalers, which reduces their profits. Mr Ename laments that after 21 years of independence, the country’s economy is still dominated by foreigners. He denounced the fact that numerous banks controlled by Indians do not give credit facilities to Africans while certain industries with monopoly (batteries, tyres etc.) manufacture products of poor quality (Standard, 5th March 1985).

    • 21 Disappointed by the results of his political campaign, Shailesh Adalja did not go beyond his sugges (...)

    Shailesh Adalja, in an article devoted to African Indian marriages, emphasizes that the 2500 year-old caste system cannot be eliminated in one day (Kenya Times 18th June 1985). He publishes a manifesto to promote mixed African Indian marriages, the end of residential segregation, the opening up of Indian companies to allow African shareholders, welcoming Africans in Indian clubs, etc. This manifesto is signed by a dozen of personalities although there was no Indian or Indian African (Kenya Times 6th October 1985)21.

    • 22 The minister had asked administrators of educational institutions not to punish absence because of (...)

    Refusing to comply with instructions from the Kenyan minister for National Education, the principal (of English nationality) of an English school comprising of 66 % Kenyan Indian students expels four Indian students who had missed classes during the Diwali festival (Standard 19th November 1985)22.

1986

  • Mr Mohamed Yusuf Hadj, Coast Province commissioner, congratulates the Shia Bohras, for their participation in the development of the country (Standard 27th February 1986).

1990

  • The Daily Nation newspaper publishes an inquest on Indian communities in Kenya. Among the reasons as to why Indians are not integrated into the Kenyan society today, the newspaper mentions the colonial policy of segregation. Fundamentally conservative, Indians wish to preserve their culture. But, contrary to the thoughts of many Africans, they are not racist; they are ‘caste-based’ and “community” based (Daily Nation, 14th November 1990).

1992

  • In an inquiry dedicated to Kenyan Indians, the Daily Standard affirms that relations between Indians and Africans are a combination of class and interethnic relation because a majority of rich Kenyans are of Indian origin. It denounces, once more, the fact that Indian real estate agents exclude Africans who want to settle in the Indian residential quarters (Standard, 12th March 1992).

1993

  • In August 1993, six Indians are assaulted and murdered in Nairobi. The Standard does not regard this act as villainous crimes. (Standard, 7th September 1993)

1994

  • Signed by Mau Mau Posterity, Anti-Indian pamphlets accusing Indians of racism and threatening of reprisals circulates in Nairobi (Standard, 29th September 1994).

1995

  • The East African Standard announces the creation of an association to defend Indian interests: the Eastern Action Club of Africa (East African Standard, 26th December 1995).

1996

  • At the national congress of his party, Kenneth Matiba, chairman of FORD-Asili (a party opposed to KANU and president Moi), launches a war against Indians and White Settlers (British farmers settled in Kenya). He declares that the estates of white settlers and Indians have to be confiscated and that these should better prepare to leave the country. He accuses higgledy piggledy Indians of exploiting Africans, of engaging in dubious dealings, “of wallowing in wealth while Africans are dying of hunger”, of being arrogant, of being the principal cause of traffic jams in the city-centre of Nairobi, parking their vehicles anywhere for the simple pleasure of engaging in idle gossip. Kenneth Matiba believes that Kenya is a sanctuary for Indians after they were expelled from Uganda by Amin Dada. He adds that: “A majority of them are thieves and are corrupt” (Kenya Times, 12th March 1996).

  • Kenneth Matiba, the chairman of FORD-Asili declares that Indians and White Kenyans should leave the country to avoid an inevitable expulsion” (Kenya Times, 21st March 1996)

  • Kenneth Matiba announces that his party will soon produce a document justifying his previous statements regarding Indians. He renewed his criticisms towards Indians and levelled a list of accusations: 1) refusal to acquire Kenyan citizenship; 2) segregation in schools; 3) stranglehold on urban property leading to a high excess in property prices; 4) tax evasion, especially in the trade of fabric; 5) interested collusion with KANU party officials (Standard, 25th March 1996)

  • The Sunday Standard condemns the statements made by Kenneth Matiba. They are a reminder of economic disaster that was in Uganda in 1972 through the expulsion of Indians by Dictator Idi Amin Dada (Sunday Standard, 10th April 1996)

  • The Daily Nation strongly denounces the racist and hypocritical behaviour of Kenneth Matiba, who had been known for his relations with some Indian personalities involved in various scandals. According to the Daily Nation the success of Indians is based on two words “hard work and frugality”. After comparing Kenneth Matiba to Hitler, the newspaper recalled the role played by Indians in the country’s independence (Daily Nation, 28th April 1996)

  • Most of Kenyan politicians condemn Kenneth Matiba’s xenophobic statements, a candidate for the country’s Presidency (Daily nation, 20th May 1996).

  • The Ford Asili chairman attacks Indians again and accuses them afresh of corruption. He equally criticizes them for dominating the country’s economy at the expense of Africans (Standard, 19th July 1996).

1997

    • 23 An ethnic group from Western Kenya.

    During the electoral tour in the Western region of the country, Kenneth Matiba reopens his anti-Indian diatribes. Saying that Indians keep Africans in slavery, urging the Luo23 to put pressure on them to hasten their departure from the country, declaring that this departure from the country was part of his manifesto for the candidacy for president of the Republic (Kenya Times, 6th April 1997).

  • Kenneth Matiba urges Kenyans to mobilize themselves to achieve the expulsion of all Indians from Kenya. This declaration is relayed by several FORD Asili officials (especially in Mombasa) denouncing illegal immigration, accusing Indians of monopolizing employment at the expense of Africans and of robbing the country, accusing them of corrupting politicians, etc. The remarks of Kenneth Matiba led to an outcry in the diplomatic corps circles in Nairobi and are denounced by KANU officials (East African Standard, 10th April 1997).

1998

  • In a 14-page document, Kenneth Matiba relentlessly renews his hostile statements about Indian communities, pointing out several personalities in industry and finance implicated, in his opinion, in diverse embezzlements. Far from having the country’s interest at heart, these people, he declares, only act in their own interest. Their “exploitativeness” has to be brought to an end. He criticizes the collusion between dishonest Indians and the current government. He commits himself that if he gets to power, he would revoke naturalizations obtained through illegal means and encourage the promotion of African company directors (Kenya Times, 18th August 1998).

1999

  • In a survey on Indian communities in Kenya, The People newspaper revisits the tense relations between Indians and Africans. Far from improving, this relationship today has a tendency, according to the newspaper to deteriorate. The newspaper mentions three factors of this degradation: 1) The indiscretion of certain Indians that was recently revealed, indicating that they would carry several billions of shillings; 2) The reinforced belief among a majority of Africans that Indians control the major part of the Kenyan industry; 3) The recent influx of illegal immigrants from India. The newspaper nevertheless stands up for Indians who have been the subject of ridiculous depictions and who are frequently victims of prejudice by Africans (The People, 6th December 1999).

Bibliographie

Bibliography

KAPUR-DROMSON, Neera, 2007, From Thelum To Tana. New Delhi, London, Penguin books,

NYAGGAH M. 1974, “Indians in East Africa: The Case of Kenya”, Journal Of African Studies, 1 (2): 205-233.

PRUNIER, Gérard, 1990, L’Ouganda et la question indienne. Paris, Éditions Recherchés sur les Civilisations.

ROTCHILD, Donald, 1973, Racial Bargaining in Independent Kenya: A Study Of Minorities And Decolonization. London, Oxford University Press.

WARAH, Rasna 1998, Triple Heritage. A Journey to Self Discovery. Nairobi, Communication Concepts Ltd

Notes

1 The nationalist and xenophobic ideas developed in India by the right wing of the NJP or other extreme right parties were hardly heard of in the diaspora. For those who believe in these values, non-Indian cultures are seen as primitive epigones of humanity, with the European technical superiority being balanced with their moral consumption and religious retardation. These views perpetuate the millenarian vision of Bengali Netaji (Subhas Chandra Bose), an admirer of the Nazis who died in a plane accident in 1945.

2 For a Hindu vegetarian, explains Neera Kapur Dromson, a carnivorous consumer is not a consumer of meat but of “flesh”, a term associated with an act of violence against a living being. The latter thus transmits the evil flow of vengeance to whoever exposes himself to devouring a piece of himself (Kapur Dromson 2008: 318).

3 Kapur-Dromson 2007: 2.

4 This change of attitude came at a time when African servants were not even allowed to fill up a carafe of drinking water. Similar prejudices were also applied to Europeans. An old person of Brahman origin known to the author reports that during their childhood, their father forced them to take a bath whenever circumstances of daily life had led them to shake hands with a European. Other informants report having been subjected to the same ritual of purification after simply having looked at or smelled raw meat.

5 It could be mentioned that the already old memorandum of 1st March 1986 in which the members of the national Chamber of commerce and industry of Kenya (with a Kenyan Indian majority) established a list of reprehensible behaviours by some Indian manufacturers and wholesalers: 1) refusal of payment within 90 days; 2) refusal to deliver goods in case of damage to the stocks belonging to certain retailers (African); 3) higher billing for African retailers; 4) higher commercial leases to the detriment of African retailers (Warah 1998: 39)

6 Concerning intercommunity antagonism, it is worth mentioning the one pitting Indian businessmen on the Kenyan coast (Mombasa to Malindi) against Somali businessmen, several of them having withdrawn to this part of Kenya. Traffickers and countless businessmen are thus mixed up in the same opprobrium, with Indians accusing the Somalis of trafficking (drugs, arms) and engaging in property speculation, particularly by buying at a low price in order to demolish houses in the old Mombasa town. Considered as unruly tenants, the Somalis are equally (and paradoxically) considered responsible for the high increase in rent. Unfair competition presents another frequent accusation, the Somalis being accused of importing smuggled goods especially from Dubai and Bangkok. Stereotypes of another nature (laziness, sloppiness) are sometimes directed towards Arabs, though frequently business associates). According to certain Indians “the ideal Arab lives in speculation without working or making effort, rides in big limousines and employs fifteen servants at home”.

7 A mildly derogatory term with colonial origins referring to all British civil servants of Indian origin.

8 The author mentions higgledy-piggledy: very high daily food rations during the construction of the railway, expenditure on education seven to ten times higher in favour of Indians, proportionally lower poll tax, better political representation.

9 Isolating this incident from its context, the author mentions the case of Alibhai M. Jeevanjee, an important Indian personality of that era, who brought up the idea of a unification of the Kenyan colony with the Indies Empire in 1910.

10 “Kenyan Indians do not fully associate themselves with community life (national). Their principal occupations are business and administration. They are not prepared to (…) identify themselves with a country which has no other significance to them than that of being a place where they conduct their business” (M. Koinange, quoted by Nyaggah 1974: 221).

11 A poll conducted in 1972 in Kenya indicates that a majority of Africans were ready to accept the presence of Indians once they accepted integration. In fact, while 76 % of those polled favoured an expulsion of non-citizens, 80 % thought that Indians with Kenyan citizenship had a right to live in the country (Rotchild 1973: 194, according to Prunier 1990: 244).

12 Celebrated in October or November according to the lunar calendar, Diwali marks the New Year in Northern India. A very popular festival of lights, it is accompanied by fireworks, firecrackers, etc.

13 There is no recent poll on this subject. In the beginning of the 1960s, a poll conducted on 129 1st year students of Makerere University in Kampala and the University of Nairobi gave the following results: interrogated about their sentiments regarding Indians of the Diaspora, 52 % of the respondents only mentioned negative traits, 45 % considered Indians to be exploiting the Africans; 27 % affirmed that they were deceitful and dishonest; 32 % noted that they were spurred on by clan consciousness, 19 % said that they suffered from a superiority complex, only 10 % percent acknowledged their qualities: business competence and the positive role in the country’s development (poll conducted by Pierre Van Den Berghe in 1962, quoted by Warah 1998: 37-38).

14 Among the many African-Indian enterprises, some could definitely be the subject of complaints from their personnel: poor salaries, disregard for working hours and leave schedules, absence of medical cover and social security, deplorable working and hygiene conditions, etc. It is not certain, on the other hand, that the proportion of Indian firms to which this criticism could be levelled surpasses that of firms under African proprietorship. On the contrary, certain African Indian enterprises could comparatively act as models in political science and environmental concerns. This is particularly the case with several Ismaili firms such as Alltex, Farmer’s Choice or Frigoken.

15 Principal fraud denounced by African critics, yet commonly practiced by African businessmen themselves: getting money out of the country illegally by overcharging for equipment or other imported products and articles.

16 A town in Central Kenya.

17 Commissioner of Kakamega district in Western Kenya.

18 A Kenyan politician of British origin belonging to an old colonial era family.

19 A classical way of appealing for collective solidarity in Eastern Africa, it was also a watchword for the new extra ethnic citizenry during the era of Jomo Kenyatta’s presidency.

20 Political party in power at that time.

21 Disappointed by the results of his political campaign, Shailesh Adalja did not go beyond his suggestion and left Kenya in 1986.

22 The minister had asked administrators of educational institutions not to punish absence because of religious festivals.

23 An ethnic group from Western Kenya.

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