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Indian Africa

Adam Michel

Foreword on Bibliography and Methodology

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1There is significant English language literature dedicated to Indian immigration in East Africa, beginning from the ancient era of the Omani Arab trade posts to the end of the colonial period. Amongst the publications on Indian migrations in the Indian Ocean in general, it is worth mentioning: Kevalam M. Panikkar 1951, India and the Indian Ocean. London, George Allen and Unwin; Michael N. Pearson 1976, Merchants and Rulers in Gujerat. The Response to the Portuguese in the Sixteenth Century. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, California University Press; Norman R. Bennett 1978, A History of the Arab State of Zanzibar. London, Methuen; Peter Van der Veer (ed.) 1995, Nation and Migration. The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press ( “South Asia Seminar Series”). On the history of relations between India and Africa and immigration in East Africa, see: Jagjit S. Mangat 1969, A History of the Asians in East Africa (1886– 1945). Oxford, Clarendon Press; Robert G. Gregory 1971, India in East Africa: A History of Race Relations within the British Empire, 1890–1939. Oxford, Clarendon Press. On Indian presence in East Africa, see: L.W. Hollingsworth 1960, The Asians of East Africa. London, Macmillan & St. Martin’s Press; George Delf 1963, Asians in East Africa. London, Oxford University Press (political history); Dharam P. & Yash P. Ghai (eds) 1970 (1965), Portrait of a Minority: Asians in East Africa. Oxford, Oxford University Press; Robert G. Gregory 1993, Quest for Equality. Asian Politics in East Africa, 1900–1967. New Delhi, Orient Longman; Dana Seidenberg 1996, Mercantile Adventurers. The World of East Africans Asians, 1750–1985. New Delhi, Bangalore, New Age International Publishers. Agehananda Bharati’s 1972 publication, The Asians in East Africa: Jayind and Uhuru. Chicago, Nelson Hall Company, though not very recent, is a good synthesis on all immigrant communities by an Austrian ethnologist who converted to Hinduism. American sociologist Donald Rotchild’s 1973 publication, Racial Bargaining in Independent Kenya: A Study of Minorities and Decolonization. London, Oxford University Press, is a rare study on the perception of Indians by Africans in Kenya during the years after independence. There are four major publications on post-colonial Uganda: S.H. Morris 1968, The Indians in Uganda. London, Weidenfelt & Nicolson; Michael Twaddle (ed.) 1975, Expulsion of a Minority: Essays on Uganda Asians. London, The Athlone Press; R.R. Ramchandani 1976, Ugandan Asians: the End of an Enterprise. Bombay, United Asia Publishers; Gérard Prunier 1990, L’Ouganda et la question indienne. Paris, Éditions Recherches sur les Civilisations. Five publications on colonial Kenya and the period before independence deserve to be mentioned: G.H. Mungeam 1966, British Rule in Kenya, 1895–1912. The Establishment of Administration in the East African Protectorate. Oxford, Clarendon Press; Richard T. Mc Cormack 1971, Asians in Kenya. Conflicts and Politics. Brooklyn (N.Y.), Theo Gans’ Sons; John M. Nazareth 1981, Brown Man, Black Country. New Delhi, Tidings Publications (testimony of a Goan lawyer practicing in Nairobi); Dana Seidenberg 1983, Uhuru and the Kenya Indians. New Delhi, Vikas; Zarina Patel 1997, Challenge to Colonialism. The Struggle of Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee for Equal Rights in Kenya. Nairobi, Publishers Distribution Services, an apologist biography of an important figure of the diaspora. More recently, Cynthia Salvadori’s 1989 (1983) publication entitled Through Open Doors. AView of Asian Cultures in Kenya. Nairobi, Kenway Publications, meticulously describes the cultural features of all immigrant communities (also by the same author, see: 1996, We Came in Dhows. Nairobi, Paperchase Kenya Ltd, 3 vol.). As well, The Eastern Africa Journal of Historical and Social Sciences Research, I (1) 1991, published a special issue gathering an array of rather fervent diatribes dedicated to Kenya’s Indian minorities. For the last five years, two publications are worth mentioning: the excellent doctoral dissertation by Helene Herzig, 2006, South Asians in Kenya. Gender, Generation and Changing Identities in Diaspora, Münster, Lit Verag, devoted to the latest social and cultural changes in Kenya; and the very recent account by Neera Kapur-Dromson 2007, From Thelum to Tana. New Delhi, London, Penguin Books, telling the history of a family from Punjab that emigrated to Kenya at the very end of the 19th century.

2 Drawing upon considerable documentation, this book does not pretend to be an all-encompassing overview but rather aims at painting a broad picture of the communities of Indian origin in East Africa, striving to include changes that have occurred since the end of the 1980s, which correspond to the last years when sociological works addressed the Indian question.

3We have to admit that this objective has not been entirely met. Amongst the three East African countries, Kenya, on the one hand, is more extensively covered than the two others. This focus on the former British dominion is not simply due to the demographical importance of the Indian minority there and its central role in the national economy. It also results from the concentration of research capacity in Nairobi, where the French Institute for Research in Africa that supported this publication is based.

4Challenges in accessing and collecting demographic and economic figures, on the other hand, have been a constant and tremendous concern, making it difficult for authors to reach a satisfying level of precision. Studies had to be conducted with community organisations (Hindu Council, Aga Khan Jamatkhana, etc.) in order to make up for missing or incomplete official statistics (especially on the post-independence period). Even though such data collected amongst Indian representatives instances are not as precise as government statistics, they are nevertheless rather reliable; they capture the extreme mobility of Indo-African families as well as the frequent dispersion of their members, including at a regional level. Given that the studies conducted spanned a long period of time (from 2003 to 2008), it has not always been possible to proceed to the necessary update of statistics.

5Let us finally underline that, in order to avoid too many frequent marginal notifications that would have impaired readability, all figures which appear in the text but are deprived of references were provided by community associations.

© Africae, 2015

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