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…
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 corrupt, engaged in illicit practices, abusive towards the indigenous population, which sometimes led to outbreaks of active opposition against the traders. Although some may view this as a compelling explanation, it is largely too simplistic. Instead, anti-Asian opinion was created by the envy of Asian dominance combined with the corrupt and illicit actions of the few, which were then embellished and spread around, creating an Asian stereotype which became engrained in the minds of the Kenyan people. In both colonial and post-colonial Kenya, Asians dominated retail and trade. They controlled 75% of medium and large scale manufacturing firms, while they only comprised 1% of the population.1 In contrast to this, Africans only controlled 5% of

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