Essay on Kenyan Race Relations

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South Asians, predominantly Indians, have a long history in Kenya and East Africa as a whole. They first migrated to east Africa in the 1890s for the building of the Ugandan railway, and then began to concentrate themselves in trade and professional occupations, such as doctors and bankers, thus meaning they were, and somewhat still are, integral to the socio-economic condition of Kenya. Historically however, race relations between black Kenyans and Asians have been acrimonious. The reasons for this are subject to debate. In general, Kenyans felt that they were marginalised by the domination of trade by Indians, leading to a relationship of envy between the two ethnicities. Furthermore, there was a popular view that the Asians were…show more content…
Instead, Asians were on the whole willing to work much longer hours and operated more efficiently than African traders were ever able to6, meaning that the Asian dominance of trade was unavoidable. Therefore, although a main cause of the hostile race relations was the monopoly over trade that Asians held, this was not a deliberate act to undermine Africans. While the domination of trade created a general feeling of envy towards the South Asians, it was the illicit and corrupt actions of a few that led to the creation of an Asian stereotype, which contributed greatly to the acrimonious race relations throughout the period. When these incidences occurred, stories of them were spread around and embellished through word of mouth, the media, and the African government, which caused a general distrust of Asians amongst the indigenous population. This is illustrated by the scandal concerning the Mahindra and Mahindra company in the 1990s. This involved the selling of defective jeeps to the police force at levels far above the usual market price.7 As this hit the headlines of a number of newspapers8, it spread around the idea that Indians were the exploiters of Africans and should not be
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