You a African? Do you know what’s happenin?

The Dead Prez song remains one of my favorites. For the past month or so, the violence and allegations of rigging following Kenyas election has led the country to a dangerous standstill.

africa.JPGSince we concern ourselves with issues of the diaspora, too often our discussions are centered in the US, Canada, and UK. In trying to think of the greater Sikh community, our populations in South East Asia, Africa, and a number of different locales are often forgotten and overlooked.

With this in mind, I have been thinking about the Sikh population in Kenya (Many of us are familiar with Sikh-Kenyans in the US, UK, and Canada, due to their often high-levels of education, successful businesses, and distinctive pagris, this is an example of a unique exaggerated Kenyan style). Googling on the internet, I found an article in the Chandigarh Tribune, dated over 3 weeks ago, lamenting about the Punjab Governments apathy towards the Punjabi community there as opposed to the Gujarat Governments involvement. In that article, a comment was made that no Sikhs had yet been injured, but loss of property was substantial. I found another article discussing the Sikhs engagement with the issue and providing a refuge centered for those that have been displaced. This was particularly refreshing.

Here is another blog, written by a Sikh-Kenyan with some beautiful pictures of a Sikh camp held there a few years ago.

It seems Gurdwaras throughout Kenya are coming together on February 3rd to organize a ‘Sanjhi Ardas’ (United Prayer) and have simultaneous Sukhmani Sahib, Simran, and Kirtan in hopes for peace to that land.

While we have a few Kenyan (infrequent) readers to our blog, can any shed some light on the current political situation there?


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23 Responses to “You a African? Do you know what’s happenin?”

  1. sdadiahla says:

    My two bits worth…

    Although I don't have an issue praying for all of mankind, I would definitely have an issue praying for Kenyans as a separate sect.

    Despite having been born in Kenya (4th Generation born there), I don't consider myself to be Kenyan.

    This is because having seen how most Asians were treated, when growing up; for example, it was not uncommon to hear the slogan "Asians go home" at least once a week, and this was despite the capital city Nairobi more or less having been built by the Asians.

    Also recently a cousin was attacked there and apart from shooting him first they made a point of kicking his turban off (fortunately he survived to tell the tale).

    Everyone deserves the same and as per the message from our Guru's:

    God knows best, and if prayer could at all sway God then Prayer would be bigger than God, which is a crazy notion.

    Anyway, I know everyone is not the same, and I don't say all Kenyans are as such, but I know a large chunk is.

    In my humble view they should be praying for all (Sarbat da Paleh), not for Kenya.

  2. sdadiahla says:

    My two bits worth…
    Although I don’t have an issue praying for all of mankind, I would definitely have an issue praying for Kenyans as a separate sect.
    Despite having been born in Kenya (4th Generation born there), I don’t consider myself to be Kenyan.
    This is because having seen how most Asians were treated, when growing up; for example, it was not uncommon to hear the slogan “Asians go home” at least once a week, and this was despite the capital city Nairobi more or less having been built by the Asians.
    Also recently a cousin was attacked there and apart from shooting him first they made a point of kicking his turban off (fortunately he survived to tell the tale).
    Everyone deserves the same and as per the message from our Guru’s:
    God knows best, and if prayer could at all sway God then Prayer would be bigger than God, which is a crazy notion.

    Anyway, I know everyone is not the same, and I don’t say all Kenyans are as such, but I know a large chunk is.
    In my humble view they should be praying for all (Sarbat da Paleh), not for Kenya.

  3. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear sdadiahla,

    Your words of pain touched me deeply. There are many reasons why people lose actively choose to disassociate themselves from various countries. For many Sikhs, 1984 was the event that delinked any loyalties with the Indian state. I am just trying to better understand what occurred in Kenya.

    May I ask what forms of abuse did you/your family experience while in Kenya? What groups were kinder? When were times of greater insecurity?

    If you don't wish to talk about it either, I do understand. Thanks for giving voice to a particular sentiment.

  4. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear sdadiahla,

    Your words of pain touched me deeply. There are many reasons why people lose actively choose to disassociate themselves from various countries. For many Sikhs, 1984 was the event that delinked any loyalties with the Indian state. I am just trying to better understand what occurred in Kenya.

    May I ask what forms of abuse did you/your family experience while in Kenya? What groups were kinder? When were times of greater insecurity?

    If you don’t wish to talk about it either, I do understand. Thanks for giving voice to a particular sentiment.

  5. the prayers being held by the sikh community in kenya IS for all, not just for sikhs. as a community, we are saddened by the plight of the displaced, killed or injured. this is not the kenya we have known, so the need for prayer is indeed our only hope. up to some extent, prayers work, of course we must play our part in it. prayer is not to sway God, it beseeches His Mercy. ardas (prayer) is powerful, if we believe in it. in every religion, prayer is held on high because it is considered to be a conversation with God. yes, it is true that there has been racial profiling in kenya, but that is something that is rampant the world over – no country is immune from it. look at the kind of thinks blacks get told back in india, they bring the same sentiments to kenya. racists are just a minority and their way can never succeed. look at what happened to uganda and zimbabwe for instance – because of their hatred for the non-blacks, their plunged their countries into darkness. even i have personally been racially abused (especially during the 9/11 period), but what can i tell to a few ignorant racists? i uphold my identity with pride, no matter where i live – that is what sikhi has taught me. it is sad when asians are targeted, but because we are a minority, it happens even in developed countries like the usa, uk and canada – in fact , it's far worse there.

    right now, the tribes at loggerheads in kenya, and this is the doing of just a few. when leaders incite their followers, they do it just for their own personal gains and it is their bad, really – they're just ruining their own people. what of people like us asians? the day we decide to pack up, we go and make a home where we are more welcome. so in general, the 'sanjhi ardas' is being done for all of kenya, not just for sikhs alone. 'sarbat the bhalla' is indeed the foundation of this 'sanjhi ardas'. kenya is our home and it is burning and we find it important to pray for our country because it's peace is a part of global well-being.

    bhul chuk maaf karni ji.

  6. the prayers being held by the sikh community in kenya IS for all, not just for sikhs. as a community, we are saddened by the plight of the displaced, killed or injured. this is not the kenya we have known, so the need for prayer is indeed our only hope. up to some extent, prayers work, of course we must play our part in it. prayer is not to sway God, it beseeches His Mercy. ardas (prayer) is powerful, if we believe in it. in every religion, prayer is held on high because it is considered to be a conversation with God. yes, it is true that there has been racial profiling in kenya, but that is something that is rampant the world over no country is immune from it. look at the kind of thinks blacks get told back in india, they bring the same sentiments to kenya. racists are just a minority and their way can never succeed. look at what happened to uganda and zimbabwe for instance because of their hatred for the non-blacks, their plunged their countries into darkness. even i have personally been racially abused (especially during the 9/11 period), but what can i tell to a few ignorant racists? i uphold my identity with pride, no matter where i live that is what sikhi has taught me. it is sad when asians are targeted, but because we are a minority, it happens even in developed countries like the usa, uk and canada in fact , it’s far worse there.

    right now, the tribes at loggerheads in kenya, and this is the doing of just a few. when leaders incite their followers, they do it just for their own personal gains and it is their bad, really they’re just ruining their own people. what of people like us asians? the day we decide to pack up, we go and make a home where we are more welcome. so in general, the ‘sanjhi ardas’ is being done for all of kenya, not just for sikhs alone. ‘sarbat the bhalla’ is indeed the foundation of this ‘sanjhi ardas’. kenya is our home and it is burning and we find it important to pray for our country because it’s peace is a part of global well-being.

    bhul chuk maaf karni ji.

  7. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear Lakhvir Singh Khalsa,

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa

    Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh

    Can you please explain more about the political situation in Kenya. I think the idea of the 'Sanjhi Ardas' is a wonderful idea and deserves the support of the Sikh community.

    Are the Sikhs in Kenya tied to a certain tribe? What is the state of affairs of Sikhi in Kenya?

    I am really fascinated and any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I am interested in comparing our pre-1947 diaspora (E. Africa, South East Asia, etc.) with out post-1947 diaspora (Canada, US, UK, etc.) and understanding why and how the pre-1947 diasporic communities were better able to preserve the Khalsa roop.

  8. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear Lakhvir Singh Khalsa,

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
    Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh

    Can you please explain more about the political situation in Kenya. I think the idea of the ‘Sanjhi Ardas’ is a wonderful idea and deserves the support of the Sikh community.

    Are the Sikhs in Kenya tied to a certain tribe? What is the state of affairs of Sikhi in Kenya?

    I am really fascinated and any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I am interested in comparing our pre-1947 diaspora (E. Africa, South East Asia, etc.) with out post-1947 diaspora (Canada, US, UK, etc.) and understanding why and how the pre-1947 diasporic communities were better able to preserve the Khalsa roop.

  9. dear mewa singh ji,

    waheguruji ka khalsa. waheguruji ki fateh.

    your questions deserve deeper analysis and i'll post an article in a few days on kalasingh.worpress.com. as of now, all i can say is that kenyan sikhs are non-partisan and do not favour any particular tribe, but work openly with all. sikhs in kenya are known to be closer to africans than any other non-indigenous community.

    waheguruji ka khalsa. waheguruji ki fateh.

  10. dear mewa singh ji,

    waheguruji ka khalsa. waheguruji ki fateh.

    your questions deserve deeper analysis and i’ll post an article in a few days on kalasingh.worpress.com. as of now, all i can say is that kenyan sikhs are non-partisan and do not favour any particular tribe, but work openly with all. sikhs in kenya are known to be closer to africans than any other non-indigenous community.

    waheguruji ka khalsa. waheguruji ki fateh.

  11. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear Lakhvir Singh Khalsa,

    I eagerly await your article on your wonderful blog. That is wonderful that the Sikhs do openly work with others. While I often read about certain African's contempt (probably fostered by certain opportunistic people) against Indian traders, what sorts of occupations do the Sikhs have in Kenya? What type of businesses or work are they most engaged? I am really intrigued and desire to foster a greater understanding between our pre and post-1947 diaspora communities. By having a larger outlook, we may better understand our diaspora community. I am overcomed by the power of the internet (it truly is Waheguru's blessing) that blogs like this allow international connections with others. A post was made asking questions about Africa and within a day, we have two very different perspectives. I look forward to hearing more when you have the opportunity. Our thoughts are with you, you family, and Kenya during this crisis.

    Thank you.

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh

  12. Mewa Singh says:

    Dear Lakhvir Singh Khalsa,

    I eagerly await your article on your wonderful blog. That is wonderful that the Sikhs do openly work with others. While I often read about certain African’s contempt (probably fostered by certain opportunistic people) against Indian traders, what sorts of occupations do the Sikhs have in Kenya? What type of businesses or work are they most engaged? I am really intrigued and desire to foster a greater understanding between our pre and post-1947 diaspora communities. By having a larger outlook, we may better understand our diaspora community. I am overcomed by the power of the internet (it truly is Waheguru’s blessing) that blogs like this allow international connections with others. A post was made asking questions about Africa and within a day, we have two very different perspectives. I look forward to hearing more when you have the opportunity. Our thoughts are with you, you family, and Kenya during this crisis.

    Thank you.

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh

  13. Mewa Singh says:

    Camille,

    Lakhvir lives in Kenya. His political analysis or observations may or may not be correct (who knows if ours are?), but we shouldn't label him 'disingenuous.' Just my thoughts, sorry.

  14. Camille says:

    Are the Sikhs in Kenya tied to a certain tribe? What is the state of affairs of Sikhi in Kenya?

    I'm happy to see the issues in Kenya receive coverage here. I am not a Kenyan Sikh, but lived in Kenya for a while, and Sikhs are not affiliated with a tribe unless by marriage. I think it is disingenuous and problematic to see this as a purely "ethnic" or "tribal" conflict. While there is certainly a dimension of leveraging ethnicity by political leaders, the underlying issue is that the Kenyan people, after over 40 years of political suppression, have been denied a free and fair election. Combined with a complete lack of leadership (or, perhaps a very parisitic and opportunistic/selfish brand of "leadership"), nothing has resolved. It's disheartening and saddening.

  15. Camille says:

    Are the Sikhs in Kenya tied to a certain tribe? What is the state of affairs of Sikhi in Kenya?

    I’m happy to see the issues in Kenya receive coverage here. I am not a Kenyan Sikh, but lived in Kenya for a while, and Sikhs are not affiliated with a tribe unless by marriage. I think it is disingenuous and problematic to see this as a purely “ethnic” or “tribal” conflict. While there is certainly a dimension of leveraging ethnicity by political leaders, the underlying issue is that the Kenyan people, after over 40 years of political suppression, have been denied a free and fair election. Combined with a complete lack of leadership (or, perhaps a very parisitic and opportunistic/selfish brand of “leadership”), nothing has resolved. It’s disheartening and saddening.

  16. Mewa Singh says:

    Camille,

    Lakhvir lives in Kenya. His political analysis or observations may or may not be correct (who knows if ours are?), but we shouldn’t label him ‘disingenuous.’ Just my thoughts, sorry.

  17. Camille says:

    Mewa Singh, I wasn't referring to Lakhvir's comments, but rather the prevalent commentary in U.S. media, particularly in outlets such as the NYT, who have drawn parallels between the violence in Kenya and the violence that pre-dated the Rwandan genocide. I hope my statement wasn't confusing — there is certainly an ethnic dimension, I am taking issue with prevailing news commentary.

  18. Camille says:

    Mewa Singh, I wasn’t referring to Lakhvir’s comments, but rather the prevalent commentary in U.S. media, particularly in outlets such as the NYT, who have drawn parallels between the violence in Kenya and the violence that pre-dated the Rwandan genocide. I hope my statement wasn’t confusing — there is certainly an ethnic dimension, I am taking issue with prevailing news commentary.

  19. Satvinder says:

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh! Mewa Singh.

    My experience in Kenya: I lived in an area called Sikhcolony, although the majority was Sikh (50%+), the others Hindus & Muslims, with 2-3% of Africans. My African friends hated the other tribes even than. Sikhi used to be very strong, now it’s the opposite, most Sikhs are patit, and consume halal, and do other things I will refrain from stating here. All Asian kids are generally living in fear of the African kids, again this the opposite to when I was in school. The main infrasture of the whole country has hardly been touched since 1963, with a many fold population explosion, this has deteriorated tremendously. Not surprised this happened. We were forced to leave the country as my parents held British passports (as my ancestors fought in the army WW1/2) And Kenya would not issue work permits to Asians, Having said all this I still consider our house servant as an uncle, we really were close, so, there were good experiences as well as bad. Sikhcolony is no more, even the roads there have disappeared. On a recent trip the saddest thing was to see the Gurdwara we had a room now functioning as a store for a bar, I wished I had not lived to see the day. Gurfateh!

  20. Satvinder says:

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh! Mewa Singh.
    My experience in Kenya: I lived in an area called Sikhcolony, although the majority was Sikh (50%+), the others Hindus & Muslims, with 2-3% of Africans. My African friends hated the other tribes even than. Sikhi used to be very strong, now its the opposite, most Sikhs are patit, and consume halal, and do other things I will refrain from stating here. All Asian kids are generally living in fear of the African kids, again this the opposite to when I was in school. The main infrasture of the whole country has hardly been touched since 1963, with a many fold population explosion, this has deteriorated tremendously. Not surprised this happened. We were forced to leave the country as my parents held British passports (as my ancestors fought in the army WW1/2) And Kenya would not issue work permits to Asians, Having said all this I still consider our house servant as an uncle, we really were close, so, there were good experiences as well as bad. Sikhcolony is no more, even the roads there have disappeared. On a recent trip the saddest thing was to see the Gurdwara we had a room now functioning as a store for a bar, I wished I had not lived to see the day. Gurfateh!

  21. Harminder says:

    Sat siri Akal to all. l am one of the Sikhs born i Kenya, Nairobi in 1948 and then immigrated to USA in 1975. That is the best thing to have happened in my life. America is the home where all are welcome as long as you work hard and honestly. The same could not be said of Kenya, where you had to hear Asians go home on a daily basis.Well so is life.

  22. Harminder says:

    Sat siri Akal to all. l am one of the Sikhs born i Kenya, Nairobi in 1948 and then immigrated to USA in 1975. That is the best thing to have happened in my life. America is the home where all are welcome as long as you work hard and honestly. The same could not be said of Kenya, where you had to hear Asians go home on a daily basis.Well so is life.

  23. I feel sympathy for Kenya on their crises and poor condition. However it is good to know that Sikh community are enjoying harmony and peace among their people. Sikhs in Kenya or in India all are have good time and peace as well as unity in their people. They are now educated and successful so far. Well, I do hope that Kenya may get stable as soon as possible and it may prosper.