<< Book Blurb: How did Indians go to Africa? This is an absorbing question. They did not go to make money as is commonly believed. They went to construct roads and railways, bring the sprawling Kenyan lands under the plough and help in opening out East Africa for development.>>

 I still fail to understand why we attribute the settlement of Asians in East Africa to the building of roads and railways. This came much later. The earlier and initial settlers to Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, Lamu, Kilwa and other coastal towns were Bhatias, Khojas, Bohoras, Vanias, Kumbhars, Bhadalas and Memons (the original Asian settlement) who had nothing to do with road or railway construction, and had left the shores of Kutch and Kathiawad as far back as eighteenth century. Gradually their relatives and contacts also sailed to Zanzibar and the coastal towns to consolidate this earlier settlement. The road/railway phase is a secondary chapter altogether. 

This in a way creates a misconception and can be misleading, in particular to those who are researching into Asian settlement in East Africa. It also disregards the attainment of our forefathers who had ventured the East African shores much earlier and withstood the challenge thrust upon them. The root of our Diaspora emanates from these earlier settlers. Yes, in a broader context the 'road and railway' builders did contribute to the Asian settlement in Uganda and the interior of Kenya and Tanganyika which as a matter of fact developed mostly in the post World War One phase. Anyhow, at a later stage some of the original Asian settlers along with those seconded by the colonial government may have joined the administration departments of the railways. 

This is merely to express my view point concerning this particular aspect. The good narrator that he is, I'm sure Peter Nazareth must have done a commendable job. Congratulations to him. 



Last updated November 2007 Copyright Abdulrazak Fazal 2007 - All Rights Reserved