|A bachelor of Mass Communication from Panjab University, Chandigarh, GURMUKH SINGH joined the Times of India, Jaipur, as a trainee in 1985. During his 17 year career, he has travelled all over India and written on politics, sports, music and social issues. He has written a book "The Rise of Sikhs Abroad", for which he travelled all over the world to gain first-hand information on the state of the Sikh Community. We present here his article on East African Sikhs - 'The Safari Rolls on' from this very informative book - to him we are deeply indebted. (Kanwal)|
Sikhs in East Africa, particularly Kenya, are called 'Kalasinghas'! And thereby
hangs a tale.
had come to Kenya from Patiala in 1886 at the age of sixteen. An adventurer, he
penetrated the Masai reserve and became famous as Kalasingha among the East Africans.
Joginder and Jaswant
For a long time, the Kenyan Public Transport
System carried a sticker, depicting the Sikhs as "Simba Wa Kenya"
which means the "Lions of Kenya".
Having immigrated to Kenya in 1916, he set up the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
to spread the universal message of Sikhism. A lover of nature, he built a garden
in the Town Centre in 1962 that was later re-named after him.
Makindu Gurdwara as in 1972
gurdwara in 2007
The gurdwara at Makindu on Mombasa
Road is the most visible symbol of the Sikh presence in East Africa. No one passes
by without partaking of langar.
The building was completed in 1963 and opened by Sardar Inder Singh Gill on 1 November 1963. The flag was hoisted by Sardar Jodh Singh, retired chief inspector of police,' says the Singh Sabha. The tercentenary celebrations, V-300, under young Amarjit Singh, were another glorious event in the history of the community.
octogenarian Sagoo (above), who now lives in Canada, was given the OBE
for his lasting contribution to educational, social, economic, religious, and
Kenya StampSh. 1/-:
Swearing in Ceremony - 1978
His Excellency President Moi is featured being sworn in as the second President of the Republic of Kenya by the then Chief Justice, accompanied by the late Registrar of High Court, Justice Pritam Singh Brar. This was on 14th October, 1978 following the passing away of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who had led the country from the time Kenya attained independence on 12th December, 1963 to the time he died on 22nd August, 1978. The ceremony, a colourful one, was strictly in accordance with the Country's Constitution and was held at the Uhuru Park, Nairobi, where national celebrations are normally held. It was witnessed by a multitude crowd. (courtesy Dil Bahra)
the year 2000, Gurdev Singh Birdi became the first Sikh to hold a political office
in Kenya. He was elected ahead of thirty-six councillors to chair the Kilifi County
ALDERMAN MOHAN SINGH - THE FIRST ASIAN DEPUTY MAYOR OF COLONIAL KENYA
|Ald. Mohan Singh with the Queen Mother on her visit to Kenya|
|Deputy Mayor Ald Mohan Singh being honoured by the Namdhari Sangat Nairobi. Suba Pritam Singh is seen garlanding the mayor and sect. P.S.Kanwal is on the mike.|
|High Highness the Aga Khan Prince Karim Ali Khan presents a memento to Ald Mohan Singh, whose firm M/s Naranjan Singh Bros., constructed the Aga Khan Silver Jubilee Hospital in Nairobi. This picture was taken on the official opening of the hospital by His Highness.|
|Meeting with Sardar Sawarn Singh, the Indian Foreign Minister on his visit to Kenya|
|The Governer of Kenya Sir Evelyn Baring introducing Ald Mohan Singh and his wife Mrs. Dharam Kaur to Princess Margaret during her visit to East Africa.|
|Photo taken on 26/6/1961 of the councillors of the Nairobi City Council. Another councillor- Bakshish Singh Sian(left) &Tarlok Singh Nandhra, a renowned architect and former President of Ramgarhia Board can be seen standing on right.|
|Chief guest Ald. Mohan Singh presenting Harjinder Kanwal with a handkerchief and a memento on a poetical symposium.|
ARTICLE IN RAMGARHIA GAZETTE -THE FIRST DEPUTY MAYOR OF NAIROBI-S.MOHAN SINGH PASSES AWAY
The first Asian Deputy
Mayor of Nairobi, Mr. Mohan Singh, who died of heart attack in a local nursing
home on last Friday, the 9th September, l966, at 4-30 pm was born in Kang Araiyan,
dist. Jullundur, East Punjab in 1917. After schooling, he took to the traditional
family occupation of farming. He was born a farmer as well as an artizan.
thanks giving congregation was held later in the evening at the Ramgarhia Hall,
Nairobi at which very high and befitting tributes were paid by Mr. Bakhshish Singh,
Mr. Phuman Singh Kanwal, Mr. Gurcharan Singh Gahir. Mr.Ajit Singh Madar, Gyani
Tara Singh Mauji, Mr. Balwant Singh Shant, Gyani Lal Singh and Mr. Parkash Singh
to Mr. Mohan Singh.
He retired from the council in 1963 after serving it for 17 years. - The sad news of his demise was heard over the voice of Kenya all over East Africa. Sikh-religious leaders from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania arrived in Nairobi to pay homage to him. His younger brother, Mr. Kala Singh; a partner of the Mombasa branch, Mr. Nand Singh, flew from India to attend the funeral. Also flew in, his son, Zail Singh, who is studying in U. K. in time. The funeral procession was one of the longest and crowded in history of Kenya. His body was carried to Namdhari Sangat, Ramgarhia Board, Sri Singh Sabha, Sri Gurdwara Bazar and Sri Gurdwara Ramgarhia Railway for prayers and robes of honour were offered by all these organizations. It is estimated that more than six thousand people of all races and communities attended the procession and the last cremation rites at the Hindu Crematorium on Sunday, the11th September.
|Premises of M/s Naranjan Singh Bros during the 40/50's - Simply a very memorable photo showing the real Kenya, cars and the people who made Kenya what it is today.|
Family members of the Jutlla clan. From left to right sitting:Niranjan Singh (after whom the company Naranjan Singh Bros was named); Puran Singh (after whom a road was named as 'Puran Singh Close' - he died during the Mau Mau uprising); Hazara Singh; Alderman Mohan Singh; Standing on left yoinger brother Kala Singh. Photo around the 40/50's
A party given to the Indian Parliament Speaker Hukam Singh when he visited Nairobi. From left can be seen Tarlok Singh Nandhra, Ald Mohan Singh, Harcharan Singh Sahota & Lal Singh
Alderman Mohan Singh being presented with a silver tea set by Suba Lal Singh of Namdhari Sangat Nairobi on his becoming the first Asian Deputy Mayor
Whilst Ald. Mohan Singh achieved great heights in the Political and social world, his son Meharban took off as an adventurer - making his mark as an accomplished scout and a climber of mountains. A keen sportsman who plays golf regularly and was the golf captain of the Muthaiga Golf Club. Here we present an article by Narain Singh which appeared in the Illustrated Weekly of India.
Meharban receiving a shield from the governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring for achieving prominence in the Scouts Open Cross Country in 1958.
ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY OF INDIA
SCHOOL BOYS ON A CLIMBING EXPEDITION
Whatever other qualities the Asians
of Kenya and East Africa might have been credited with, the spirit to face danger
for its own sake has never been one of them. It will thus come both as a matter
of surprise and satisfaction for people in India to learn that within the community
there are such groups as the twelve Indian schoolboys of Nairobi who recently,
in the lace of parental objection and official disapproval, made the hazardous
climb of Mount Kenya to a point above 16,000 feet, :* highest reached by any Asian
they set off for the second hut. They could not reach it till It was dark, and
so decided to pass the night in one of the many caves on the way. After a day's
rest, they started for the base hut.
The Turban and Scout Badge of the conqueror can be seen on the 17000 ft. high Nelion Peak
Another accident occurred whose consequences
could have been really serious. Satyapal Singh, the leader, decided to indulge
in a bit of exploring on his own while the search-party was away. In doing so,
he sustained a fall of about 20 feet and became unconscious. When he came to,
he was unable to move and spent the night where he fell. It was not till late
next morning that he was able to rejoin his colleagues.
On Lenana Point -situated at a height of well over 16000 ft.
Meharban on the "Kaiser Wilhelm Spitz" Height Point on Mt. Kilimanjaro
Meharban meeting the President of Kenya Mr. Moi and the Indian High Commissioner to kenya in 1968
The Vice President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki and Ald I Lugonzo were invited to Vet. Lab Sports Club to open a Golf Tournament in 1997. Meharban (a life member of KANU) was the Golf Captain there who organised the tournament. His wife Baldev Kaur is seen in the middle.
A car rally "Guru Nanak Rally"was held at the Sikh Union Club in honour of 'Puran Singh Jutlla of Naranjan Singh Bros and Channan Singh Ghattaura of General Workshop. Jack Simmonian won this rally and since then it has become a yearly event. The prizes were donated by Meharban Singh Jutlla and Charanjit Singh Ghattaura. In this picture taken in front of Sikh Union can be seen from left; Hardial Singh, Meharban Singh, Inderjit Singh, Mehnga Singh, Mohinder Singh Jandu and Avtar Singh Bassan
Another member of the Juttla family who is making her name as a very talented Silversmith, is the grand daughter of Ald. Mohan Singh and daughter of Meharban Singh. She is a very successful silversmith who has been exhibiting her work across the country and abroad. An article about her was printed in a local paper on March 2003.
WHY ASHI IS LEAVING HER CHILDREN BEHIND TO CHASE JEWEL OF A CHANCE IN OZ
TALENTED jeweller is about to leave her husband and young children and fly to
the other side of the world - and they're delighted to see her go.
Article - Matthew Bayes - Lincolnshire Echo
ASHI HAS DESIGNS ON NATIONAL FAME
Article taken from Lincolnshire Echo dated 20/09/2006
for Kenyas leading Film Producer
Kenyas leading film maker, Mohinder Dhillon, was knighted by the Order of Saint Mary of Zion during a ceremony at the Royal Artillery Headquarters in Woolwich, U.K. on November 12th 2005. Prince Philip is the Orders Grand Master. The order constitutes a valid chivalric order of knighthood.
The honours were conferred upon those who had made significant contribution to the society. Honorees included Mohinder Dhillon, whose newsreel photography was viewed to have brought vital issues in the African continent to the attention of the world community. The Award of Knight Commander also recognizes Mr. Dhillons professional skills and applauds his efforts, sometimes obtained with considerable risk to his personal safety.
Also honoured at the ceremony was His Royal Highness Prince Karl Wladimir of Yugoslavia, Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, which supports humanitarian projects in Yugoslavia
Mohinder had the first indication by e-mail from Professor Frederick Trowman, the Grand Chancellor of the Imperial Order of Saint Mary of Zion on October 19th 2005 in which he invited Mohinder to accept admission into the Order. This is in recognition of Mohinders humanitarian assistance to the people of Ethiopia. His films of Ethiopian famine finally moved the world into action resulting in one of the biggest famine relief operations in history. Relief planes from dozens of countries descended on little dirt air strips of Ethiopian countryside round the clock as if they were Heathrow or JFK airports. The very first pictures of the terrible Ethiopian famine which shocked the world was the combined effort of Mohinder Dhillon and Michael Buerk of BBC TV to gain entry into tightly controlled military ruled Ethiopia in 1984 opening the door for rest of the media and rest of the world. The combination of Mohinders sensitive images and Buerks well written words somberly delivered raised the alarm of compassion. Buerk/Dhillon TV team jointly produced a series of appeals and a shocking news item that resulted in a miracle response from the viewers and donation rained from the skies very soon amounting to Sterling Pounds 10 million.
Mohinder has a lot to say about the way the children of Ethiopia suffered through no fault of theirs. Over the years Mohinder affectionately known as Mo has made a lot of sponsorship appeals working with Hollywood stars on behalf of children all over the world, drawing attention to the desperate plight of children of Africa and the rest of the world, including the Far East.
Mo admits that he suffers emotionally himself by being continuously exposed to the dire poverty and never ending sufferance where children are dying like flies with parents crying their eyes out. Mo sometimes did not feel eating himself out of guilt conscience and during the night recalling days images of children with death in their eyes haunted him. Being devoted to the humanitarian cause, he carried on shooting continuously knowing his films would make a difference in improving the plight of innocent children, putting aside his own personal feelings.
Mo is nurturing his old and new injuries which occurred whilst pursuing his profession seriously and fearlessly. His son, Sam Dhillon has more or less fitted into the big shoes of his father and intends to carry on with humanitarian work with the same passion as his father. Mohinder is very proud of Sams professional skills plus his personal character, full of compassion and a strong drive to excel. Father & son team run an upcoming company Africapix Media Ltd, filming round the world
Mohinder was also invited to ITN (ITV) News to attend their 50th Anniversary Party in September at the Royal Opera House in London where he was an honoured guest having represented ITN mostly in East Africa and Middle East since 1964. He met some old friends he had not seen for over 35 years especially Britains Top Rated TV journalist and Presenter of Channel 4 News, Jon Snow. In their heydays the Dhillon/Snow team would never hesitate to risk their neck under any circumstances, and were branded by colleagues as The Death Wish Team that would reach great heights, if they stayed alive!!
Mohinder comes from a very humble background, born in a small village in Punjab, India where he obtained junior school education and a bit more at the Duke of Gloucester School, previously Govt Indian High School, Nairobi. Mohinder arrived to Kenya in 1947 as a young boy to follow his father the late Mr. Tek Singh who worked for E.A. Railways and Harbours for 29 years. Mr. Tek Singh was one of the leading pioneers of the sport of hockey in Kenya and was a very active social worker and a highly respected human being. Mohinders younger brother Joginder represented Kenya in the first Kenyan Olympic hockey team in Melbourne in 1956. He still plays veteran hockey and is a medical practitioner in U.K, and recognized Sports Doctor helping in events like Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He hopes to bring in a veteran hockey team to Kenya next year to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first Kenyan Olympic hockey team.
Read more about Mohinder Dhillon in 'Mo Stories'..Click here
for another Ex-Kenyan - Bhupinder Singh Liddar
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Pettigrew today announced the appointment of Bhupinder S. Liddar as Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP represents Canada's views and policies to the Committee of Permanent Representatives, its sub-committees and to the management of the organization. The Deputy Permanent Representative provides strategic and tactical policy analysis and advice on the advancement of Canadian foreign policy and environmental objectives within the UNEP on such issues as conservation of biodiversity, restoring the ozone layer, and water and sanitation for development.
As Deputy Permanent Representative
for UN-Habitat, Mr. Liddar will work to bring an international perspective to
the Government of Canada's preparations for the World Urban Forum, which will
be held in Vancouver next June on the 30th anniversary of the first Habitat conference
in that city in 1976. The Deputy Permanent Representative to UN-Habitat also represents
Canada's views and policies to the Committee of Permanent Representatives, its
sub-committees and to the management of UN-Habitat.
In diplomatic terms, this type of positive outcome is known as a win-win situation.
A former journalist and a well-known personality on Parliament Hill, Bhupinder Liddar, was appointed this week to the High Commission in Kenya where he'll serve as a high level representative to two United Nations' programmes.
Mr. Liddar was thrilled by the announcement which ends a two-year ordeal between him, the department of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Former prime minister Jean Chrétien appointed Mr. Liddar in 2003 as the consul-general to a new mission in Chandigarh, India. Mr. Liddar sold his diplomatic publication, gave up his TV show, was briefed by departmental officials and fêted by friends, but before he left Canada, the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin cancelled his appointment.
The intelligence agency, CSIS, had rejected Mr. Liddar's application for security clearance. Mr. Liddar challenged that finding by taking his complaint to the civilian oversight body of CSIS.
After a closed door investigation that involved paper evidence and months of oral testimony, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) this summer rebuked the decision to deny Mr. Liddar the clearance, saying the CSIS investigation had been flawed. Based on this finding, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Harder granted Mr. Liddar a clearance and the department sat down with Mr. Liddar to negotiate the next steps.
This week, Foreign Affairs issued a press release to confirm Mr. Liddar as the deputy permanent representative of Canada to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Human Settlements Programme in Nairobi, Kenya's capital.
Mr. Liddar and his friend Meghie Brar will depart Ottawa in mid-December, and his new job begins after the Christmas holiday. Based on the foreign service pay scale, Mr. Liddar's salary of about $120,000 annually is the same rate as that of consul-general.
Mr. Liddar's reaction was one of relief and excitement. Given he was born and schooled in Kenya and speaks Swahili, Mr. Liddar says the deployment is a "homecoming." He also said the job gives him access to an international network of players that few people have the fortune to experience. And importantly, Mr. Liddar said he now has the endorsement of, not one, but two prime ministers.
"Two prime ministers have put faith in me. Prime Minister Chrétien appointed me and then subsequently Prime Minister Martin," he says. "I think the important thing, and this is for everybody in my view, is that as I have moved on and gone through the process and as a result I have a lot of respect for the institutions of Canada and the process. If you want to have a rule of law you must respect the process, and that process has spoken."
Bhupinder remembers his childhood
I remember it very fondly. My father was a medical doctor who had immigrated to Kenya in 1937; of course in those days it was under British colonial rule. [I was] born in Kenya, educated in high school. A big chunk of my soul is there, and Kenya has always been very dear to me. I'm now in the process of looking up some of my old school friends, and I have traced about half a dozen still in Kenya doing very well. I was last there four years ago on a visit for about 10 days. So I think what I can bring in that background could help in improving bilateral relations.
For details see
Congratulations and best of Luck from Sikh Heritage.
Unknown hero of the independence struggle
They had effectively joined a general strike by other sectors in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, which had been going on for four days as an affront on the colonial administration.
Among the issues that they wanted addressed were "freedom for all workers, and freedom of the East African territories". There had been growing discontent over mistreatment by British authorities.
Entry of railway workers into the strike was a big boost. It got the British rulers worried. Operations of the railway corporation, particularly the central workshops and the engineering department, were greatly affected, threatening to disrupt an essential service.
What surprised the colonial powers was the little-known young Sikh who led most of the railway workers to the general strike. Jarnail Singh Liddar was only 20 years old then, but he convinced his colleagues to join the mass action.
On May 19, Jarnail went to the corporation's central workshops and gave a key talk. He told the workers to join the strike that had started on May 16, a day after the arrest of two pioneer trade unionists and political activists, Makhan Singh and Fred Kubai.
The strike demanded release of the two, as well as of Chege Kibachia, another trade unionist.
Railway workers had generally stayed out of the strike. But young Jarnail, figuring that involvement of this large volume of workers would pinch the colonial administration where it hurt most, decided to woo them.
Angered by the arrest of his mentors, Jarnail had resigned his job with the Post Office on May 17 to play a prominent role in trade unionism. The absence of Makhan and Kubai begun to be felt. Confusion emerged after some people argued that the strike was unlawful.
Makhan and Kubai were arrested in the early hours of May 15 at their respective houses in Park Road and Pumwani. They were charged with being officials of an "unregistered trade union" – namely the East African Trade Unions Congress.
British authorities had noted that the workers' strikes that Makhan, Kubai and Bildad Kaggia had organised earlier in the month (May 1) to boycott Labour Day celebrations were more political than industrial. The leaders had to be tamed.
Little did the authorities know that a young Sikh would spring up from the background and command enough authority to sustain the insurgency.
Jarnail's first stop – two days after he resigned the Post Office job – was the railways central workshops. The youthful six-footer got the attention of workers there. He told them of the importance of joining the strike.
The effect of his speech was reckoned with the next day. The specific time of his talk is not documented, but it was in the morning. By lunch hour, he had moved to Shauri Moyo, the centre of trade union activities then, for his next talk.
The Shauri Moyo address rejuvenated an ebbing morale among the workers to sustain the strike. A day earlier (May 18), police had battered workers in an attempt to split them up and break the strike. On the third day, workers were beginning to tire. Jarnail did not want that to happen.
His talk dwelt on the need for people to be solid in their stand. He pointed out that he had urged railway workers to join the revolt.
With that, he lifted the spirits of the masses. Railway workers joined the strike the next day. Word spread quickly to other towns in Kenya and the roll over effect drove the colonial administration back to the drawing board.
Although newspaper reports downplayed the workers rebellion, the May 20 boost is recognised in Makhan's book (The history of Kenya's trade union movement to 1952) as one of the most elaborate insurgencies against the British administration.
What had been reported in newspapers as a Nairobi affair spiralled to other towns in Kenya – mostly Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.
Unfortunately, Jarnail did not get a moment to relish his success. Events of May 20 and the five days that followed found him behind bars. He had become a threat to the colonial administration.
The political undertone of Jarnail's talks as he urged workers to continue calling for an end to widespread discrimination against non-British people worried the administration.
As soon as he was through with his fiery speech at Shauri Moyo on May 19, Jarnail was picked by police and charged with "inciting a strike in an essential service", meaning the railways.
He had been scheduled to give another speech at 4pm that day, but that was not to be. He was arrested as he walked out of Shauri Moyo. But he had made his point.
Jarnail was sentenced to six months of hard labour. Thereafter, he was kept on the periphery of political activism – which was mostly channelled through trade unionism.
It is no wonder that little is said about him during talks on madaraka and uhuru heroes. And not much is written about him, also. A large section of today's Sikh community learnt of Jarnail's exploits after he died in August 1997, when a temple leader told of his political life in the pre-independence era, during a memorial service.
The British had noted a charisma in Jarnail that would pose problems to the system. When Jarnail travelled back to India soon after his release to pursue marriage, the administration declared him a "prohibited immigrant". They vowed not to allow him back lest he caused more trouble.
When Jarnail attempted to return to Kenya on January 26, 1953, he was denied entry and informed that he was unwanted. His re-entry pass, as indicated in his then passport number A41108, was cancelled by immigration officers. He was sent back to Bombay, India, where, as indicated in his passport, he landed on January 29, 1953. That marked the end of his direct involvement in Kenya's pre-colonial activism.
The administration had been wary of his emerging ability to instigate mass action, and would not give him another opportunity. They locked him out of the country, yet his father, Dr Jodh Singh Liddar, and younger step-brother, Bhupinder Singh Liddar, were Kenyan residents.
Ten years later, in October 1963, Jarnail was able to return to Kenya on the invitation of Jomo Kenyatta. This followed the withdrawal of his travel restrictions after the country attained self-governance (madaraka) on June 1, that year.
Jarnail's childhood friend, Amarjit Singh Gataure, now 75, says Kenyatta had a soft spot for Jarnail. When the prohibitions were lifted, Jarnail was encouraged to return to Kenya. Amarjit remembers Jarnail as a youth who could put everything on the line to support a worthy cause.
Still, after he came back, Jarnail made a spirited campaign to get Kenyan citizenship ... and that frustrated him. He felt that his earlier efforts had not been appreciated.
On September 29, 1965, he wrote: "... Now, after lifting the ban, I have been allowed to return on an employment pass. This has not solved my basic difficulties and falls much short of my requirements and fundamental rights. Therefore, my humble prayer is that I, being a loyal citizen, my request should be given a sympathetic consideration and I should be granted citizenship of Kenya.
"It was for purely political activities which were then desirable and necessary in the interest of national struggle, that the colonial government threw me out of the country..." The letter was addressed to the Minister for Home Affairs.
But he got no assistance, prompting him to make another appeal in November 1968. That did not yield citizenship to him, either. He again stated his case on October 2, 1969, reminding the Government that it was yet to consider is application. He was finally awarded citizenship on November 14, 1969.
Jarnail is little known because his story has never been fully told. This is partly because he, too, following the frustrations he experienced on returning to an independent Kenya, opted for a low profile.
He kept his family out of the picture. Son Jagjit Singh Liddar, who now lives in the house his father bought in 1973, remembers him only as a tough man out there, but one with a soft spot at home. Says Jagjit: "He did not talk much about his experiences to us. Apparently, he did not want us to get too involved because of him."
Jagjit says his father first arrived in Kenya in 1937 as a minor. He was seven years old then and accompanied his father, Dr Jodh. He grew up in Nairobi and attended the Duke of Gloucester School, now Jamhuri High School.
His interest in socio-political activities became evident soon after he left school. Jarnail's younger step-brother, Bhupinder, talks of him as one who was often in trouble with the colonial authorities because of his anti-oppression stance. Jarnail did not last long as a police officer because of that, for example.
Says Bhupinder: "There was an age-gap between us, but I remember my father coming home several times and saying, 'Jarnail is in trouble, again'."
Their father was then a medical doctor assigned to the police and would use his influence to bail out Jarnail every time he brushed the authorities on the wrong side. The family lived near Kingsway Police Station, which is currently Central Police Station.
There were about five houses between Norfolk Hotel and the police station, recalls Bhupinder. "We lived in one of them, but Jarnail spent a lot of time away from the house. He was mostly with Makhan, learning the ropes of trade unionism and political activism. At other times he was in Shauri Moyo attending to union matters."
Makhan was an established activist against the colonial regime. By associating with him, Jarnail met and befriended Kubai and Kaggia. He was deeply involved in unionism, albeit in the background. "Makhan was his mentor," says Bhupinder.
The May 1950 strike involved about 100,000 workers. It ended on May 25 after the authorities unleashed the military and arrested about 300 workers, most of whom were detained. But the strike helped workers realise that they had the power to hasten the country's uhuru.
Mass action continued in later years. In 1952, the British administration came up with a Trade Unions Ordinance to muzzle workers. A State of Emergency was declared. Those agitating for independence were arrested and detained.
PUNJABI HERITAGE IN EAST AFRICA
The history of the South Asians in East Africa is not very old. It is only about 100 years since the first Indians landed on the shores of Kenya, namely Mombasa. The journeys in those days were accomplished in dhows which were the main source of transport and starting from Bombay the journeys could take as much as months to complete as the dhows depended on the state of the winds. It was after a lot of hardships that some of our ancestors reached Kenya to serve in the Uganda Railways which was being built from Mombasa to Kampala.
The Punjabis (Hindus, Muslims & Sikhs) were the main source of skilled and semi skilled labourers who worked on the railways. They suffered numerous hardships including the lions of Tsavo.
Do You or Your parents or Grandparents had any escapades, adventures, memorable incidents, interesting stories, their rise to fame or riches, old photographs or mementoes, souvenirs, brochures of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika - magazines printed by gurdwaras or federations, clubs, schools, students etc. Any documents or photos about East Africa – anything!
I am in the process of writing a book on the ‘Punjabi Heritage in East Africa’ and I need information as much as possible. Just get in touch with me and send me the information (which will be returned after use). Your name will be acknowledged in the book.
Your assistance would help in inserting your ancestors’ names in the history of East Africa.
Harjinder Singh Kanwal,
Phone: 024 7631 9483