The situation of East Indians between 1999 and 2001; whether Sikhs are treated differently than other East Indians and the availability of state protection [KEN39382.E]

An assistant professor of political science at the University of Ottawa, who is currently writing a book entitled Deteriorating Human Security in Kenya: Domestic, Regional and Global Dimensions, stated:

There is definite resentment of Asian Kenyans by African Kenyans, for most part because of the Asian community's wealth. Many Asians are in financial partnership with senior KANU [Kenya Africa National Union] officials, which also breeds resentment from opposition supporters ( though some Asians contribute to the opposition also in order to hedge their bets. Asians are obvious targets for petty or semi-organized crime. Those Asian that oppose the government are certainly potential targets for government-sponsored violence (hard to prove, since it would probably be disguised as "private" violence), but then that would not clearly be because of their ethnicity per se (16 Sept. 2002).

An article by the Washington Post, reporting on an exhibition at the National Museum of Kenya entitled "The Asian African Heritage Exhibition," claims that the Asian community which "accounts for much, if not most, of the merchant class, is [regarded with] open resentment and anger from a black African majority mired in poverty" (15 Mar. 2002). In addition to the economic success of East Asians, a report by BBC News claims that another reason for "anti-Asian" resentment "has been inadvertently reinforced by the Asian community itself, with its custom of holding itself culturally and economically apart" (24 May 2000).

According to two reports, anti-Asian sentiments were heightened during the explusion of 80,000 people of Asian heritage by Idi Amin in the 1970s and the program of nationalism in Tanzania during the 1980s (ibid.; Mampilly 30 July 2000).

However, according to Pheroze Nowrojee, the chairman of the Asian African Heritage Trust, "times are changing" and "there is a sense that the stereotype is not a fair acknowledgement of the community's role. And conversely, I think the rejection of it is an acknowledgement that the [Asian] community is as much Kenyan as any other tribe" (The Washington Post 15 Mar. 2000).

In a separate report by Zachariah Mampilly, a writer based in India, states that "some Asians have formed close and tight economic, social and political bonds with Kenyan Africans. The involvement of the Asian community in building schools, hospitals and mosques for use by the general Kenyan population has left many Kenyans grateful for their presence in the country" (30 July 2000).

Reports that single-out or specifically identify Sikhs and information on the availability of state protection to East Asians could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


BBC News. 24 May 2000. "Kenya's Asian Heritage on Display." [Accessed 18 Sept. 2002]

Mampilly, Zachariah. 30 July 2000. "New Exhibit Highlights Kenyan Asians." [Accessed 18 Sept. 2002]

The Washington Post. [Nairobi] 15 March 2000. "A New View of Kenya's 'Asians'; East Indians, Who Shunned Spotlight, Featured in Museum Exhibit." (NEXIS)

University of Ottawa. 16 September 2002. Correspondence with professor political science.

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet sites including:

Africa Confidential

BBC Africa

The Daily Nation

East African Standard

Integrated Regional International Network (IRIN)

World News Connection (WNC)

Search engines including:


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