Am I Kenyan or Indian?

Narissa Allibhai Backpacker Diaries, Voices 59 Comments

1. Identity1

I had to go to India. Believe it or not, it was my first time – at the age of 25. I had to go; I had to go alone; and I had to go now. My entire life I have struggled with my ethnic identity, and with a lack of that feeling of belonging to a people or a place.

Every day in my life as a Nairobian, my Kenyan-ness is perpetually questioned (poem on this upcoming) – whether by the matatu tout, the vegetable seller, or the new acquaintance I have just made that day. I constantly have to justify or insist on my Kenyan-ness, and often my non-Kenyan-ness is simply assumed. It reached a point that I was tired and angry. I was getting increasingly irritated and hurt every time someone questioned my being Kenyan, or insisted that I was Indian, really. The identity crisis was driving me crazy.

A quarter of a century into my life, I decided to take a month off and finally visit my ancestral motherland. My quest was 3-pronged: cultural, spiritual, and to figure out my identity. I set off on an epic journey, hoping to find some answers from that faraway mystical land called India.

 

A Wannabe Kenyan in a Brown Bubble

Born and raised in Kenya amongst the privileged Khoja (Ismaili) community, my young life was an isolated bubble of community life. Every Friday night (at least) was spent at the mosque praying, then socializing. Every Saturday morning, I attended religion classes with fellow Ismaili kids. All social events, festivals, volunteering, competitions, and outings revolved around the community. My exposure to the outside world came through the international schools I attended.

I travelled to Canada (Montreal, Quebec) and the U.S. (Berkeley, California) for further studies. Suddenly, I represented Kenya, and more often than not, Africa. While patiently (and impatiently) correcting misconceptions and stereotypes about the African continent over the years, I also became aware of my own lack of connection with the Kenya outside my little community.

Upon return home to Kenya, I decided to re-learn my country while simultaneously following my passions, such as human rights, arts, the environment, and writing. I have immersed myself from head to toe to heart to soul in various social justice movements, from #SaveLakeTurkana to #MauMauArts and much more. I take every opportunity to explore a new part of my beautiful country, and every day am filled with more love for the people, the nature, and the vibrancy of Kenya.

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The #HandsOffOurElephants and #NoH8 campaigns

In my heart, soul and passions, I am Kenya and Kenya is me. But in reality, the happy union is fractured and a one-way relationship. I am betrayed by my skin colour, my accent, and my broken Swahili. I stand out like a sore thumb, an outsider in the country of my birth, of which I am reminded in every other interaction with “real Kenyans.” I am labelled “Mhindi” which means “Indian” – a constant reminder that I do not truly belong. This is why I had to go to India. I had to visit the country that I am continually told I actually belong to.

 

Identity Search in India

  1. I Blend In Here

A quote from my travel diary: “The plane to Mumbai is full of brown skins. My brethren – yet I stare at them like a curious stranger. They stare back – maybe it’s in our blood. I wonder how it will feel to wander streets where I don’t stand out because of my skin colour, where I will melt into the crowd, where I can roam unnoticed, insignificant.”

It ended up feeling wonderful. For the first time in my life, I looked like every other person on the street. Living in Kenya, the average person is black; living in North America, the average person was white. Another quote from my journal: “I love how I blend in to Indian society, how I belong, how I am one of the group, how I don’t stand out, how when people look at me it’s not with curiosity – rather, it’s casual, no different to how they will look at the next person.”

In my opinion, security on the streets in Mumbai and in Nairobi is quite similar. There’s a good share of pickpockets and thieves, but you’ll be fine if you are smart about it and watch your back. However, skin colour does make a difference. A final quote from the diary:

I feel safer in India than in Kenya because of my skin colour. I blend into crowds. People glance over me without registering my presence – I am just another Indian. Dressed as modestly as the average Indian female and without make-up or accessories, there is nothing that draws attention to me. In every conversation I get into, people speak in Hindi, assuming I am a local.

In Kenya, I often stand out as the only brown person on the matatu (public minibus) or strolling down the street in downtown. My lighter skin has money written all over it, so I get quoted higher prices and am more of a target than my fellow citizens who are the same as me but black. I get longer looks (almost-stares), entertaining greetings from strangers, and people glance back at me curiously – which is harmless and I don’t mind, but the point is that I cannot melt into a Kenyan crowd.

  1. Thoughts of home

In Kenya, I have been:

  • A brown skin amongst black skins. Amongst my black Kenyan friend circles, I am often painfully aware of my lighter skin tone. I am similarly constantly aware of my jarring accent, international schooling, different community background, non-Kenyan heritage, foreign native language, and certainly an unintentional social privilege. Although my friends assure me that I am one of them, I feel more like an honorary than a genuine Kenyan.
  • A member of a brown community in which I feel alien. My brown Kenyan Ismaili community was certainly a sheltered and safe bubble in which to grow up. It has its homely share of giving souls who volunteer, of jokers who don’t take life too seriously, rumour-mongerers spicing up conversations, and unifying traditions of religious rituals and festivals. However, I do not enjoy the community’s seclusion from mainstream Kenyan life. I do not understand why we support each other slightly more than other fellow Kenyan brothers and sisters (note this favouritism is a common feature of most communities – think about your own!). To me, a brown Kenyan Khoja and a black Kenyan Luo, say, are exactly the same until I have met said people. The Khoja community in Kenya is definitely privileged, and not fully integrated – and the blame for this falls on a lack of efforts from both black and brown Kenyans. More on this in my next post, Brown Privilege.
  • Straddling cultures. I love and eat regularly ugali, mbuzi fry & sukuma wiki as well as a good dose of sev puri, khitchdi, or a home-made vege curry with roti. My ears buzz with various Kenyan and Indian languages, leaving me fluent in just one – colonial English. I comfortably sway my hips to Kenyan afro-pop and afro-fusion, manipulate my knees to lingala beats, twist my entire being to Bollywood hits, and to add some spice, shake my shoulders with Ethiopian eskista. My current friend circle consists entirely of black Kenyan artists and activists, whereas my dearest and best friend since I began to accumulate memories is a brown Ismaili. Romantically, I have had an equal number of brown, black and white partners.

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My big question for the trip: Upon leaving India, will I identify more as Kenyan or Indian?

  1. A New Pride

I didn’t feel ashamed of my ethnicity/colour/culture/background in India! More about this in the upcoming post on Brown Privilege.

  1. Identifying with Beautiful India

I love India (what I’ve seen of it). I split my time between Mumbai, Kerala (southern India) and Rajasthan (northern India). Throughout my travels, I met many people who were friendly, down-to-earth, proud of their culture, artistically expressive, spiritual, and in touch with nature. I saw majestic palaces, holy lakes, magnificent diverse spice plantations, the serene shaded backwaters of the south, chaotic vibrant city life, peaceful spiritual centres, and my rural village home. I rode on rickety trains, ate piquant foods daily, meditated for 10 days in a remote pagoda, canoed the peaceful green “Venice of India,” watched traditional Kathakali and Rajasthani dances, stood calmly amidst a herd of buffalo, ran away from a wild elephant, shared a sad glance with an enslaved elephant, rode the famous rickshaws, learned to play the didgeridoo from a dreamy hippie, watched the sun set over Lake Pichola in Udaipur, ate the cacao fruit, and the list goes on.

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India is unbelievably diverse and beautiful. My little dip of the toe has made me desire to return there, perhaps for a year. Back to the identity search, random little things made me feel at home in India:

  • Most Indians that I met (note this was outside Dehli and they were generally not “upper class”) did not even remotely possess the shallow obsession with the material and with looks that Kenyan Indians usually do, as does the average young Nairobian female, really, whatever their skin colour. I felt much more comfortable and able to be myself without that pretentiousness.
  • My legs always seem to fold themselves into that comfortable cross-legged position, whether I am in the office, at lunch, or taking an exam. In India, it wasn’t an odd thing – many others would sit cross-legged too! Funny little thing but it made me feel like I belonged.
  • The Indian hospitality was to be felt almost everywhere. It was so genuine and wholehearted that I felt entirely welcome. Further, I identified with the authenticity and sincerity of welcoming all people (familiar or stranger) and having warm, positive interactions (obviously not every interaction was perfect, but the cultural hospitality is undeniable).
  • People addressed me in Hindi, assuming I was Indian. What a contrast to Kenya where even a native Swahili-speaker addresses me in English, assuming I am a foreigner who will not understand Swahili. Ironically, I understand Swahili but not a word of Hindi.
  • Of course, it helped to look like everyone else.

Then again, India is a foreign land to me, and I do not remotely understand any of its indigenous languages. I am and always will be Kenyan before anything else. However, my history and culture is rooted in India, and parts of me feel that ancestral connection.

Today, I feel both Kenyan and Indian, but not Kenyan-Indian. Perhaps I’ll start answering the “Where are you from?” question with “I am a Kenyan of Indian origin.

 

So Who Am I?

One complication to throw into the mix is my lack of belief in borders. Borders as they exist today mostly serve to divide and separate. I do not believe in patriotism, nor nationalism. I do believe in the equality of all humans across races, religions (or lack of), gender, orientation, political viewpoints, so-called social classes, profession (or lack of), culture, and so-called nationality. This being said, it does not entirely make sense to claim that I am Kenyan before anything else, neither Indian, nor Ismaili, nor brown – rather, I am human.

On the other hand, these identity groupings have each played their part in forming the person I am today. It feels good to belong to a community. Perhaps I could claim a mixed ethnic identity: I am a Kenyan citizen, of Indian origin, with an Ismaili cultural background.

However, such an identity claim only feels right to me as a spicy backdrop to my true identity as simply human. Every other human out there is my extended brother or sister (or aunt, niece, etc.). You are me and I am you.

1. Identity5

Comments 59

  1. Roshni Walia

    I loved this piece, Narissa, and can absolutely relate! Are you based in Kenya? I moved back from the U.S. last year, and I’m a blogger here- I’d love to connect! Feel free to shoot me an email. I also have an FB group called Female Bloggers of Kenya- we’d love to have you join!

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Hi Roshni! Yes I am, and sure let’s connect! I’ve sent a request to your FB group. Perhaps we can chat on FB?

  2. Ezmina

    Oh my goodness Nari, how wonderfully you express yourself! I totally relate to what you have expressed and struggled in the past, to a point now, I am “ME”. I still get excited when I see a black person, and of course I assume they are from Africa, and want to connect with them immediately – I feel so connected to being Kenyan even after having been in Canada for 35 years. So, I will, most times go up to them and start a conversation and ask where they are from – I can see the look of surprise? offended? how dare I ask the question? so I immediately will explain that I am from Kenya … and then most times they will relax and continue a conversation, but of course, there are some with the attitude that I have no right to ask them the question…it doesn’t bother me..i just feel connected. This feeling of ‘where do I belong?” troubled me…now, I just ‘AM”.
    I also related to how you felt being in India – I loved it, and if it weren’t so far and so expensive, I’d go back in a heartbeat!
    Love you Nari, love your sincerity and admire the fact that you are so authentic in who you are. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures and experiences…

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Aw thankyou and I love you too! Thanks again as usual for your continuous support and belief in me.

      It’s a struggle that a lot of people seem to face when they don’t look like the typical “local” of a country – Somalis in Kenya often have the same struggle, and ironically, non-whites in the USA who are just as much descended from foreigners as the American whites (but that’s a whole other conversation).

      It’s interesting, your reaction when you see a black person in your mostly white environment (having grown up in a mostly black environment). Maybe sometimes you forget your own skin colour and think you are black? I actually do that sometimes..! Some of my black African friends who studied in North America talked about how when there was another black person in the room they would meet eyes and share an unspoken acknowledgement – but this is something I of course could not relate to, being brown. On the other hand, some people may get offended when you ask if they are from Africa because of that same assumption of looking different meaning outsider. It’s a complex interaction, even more so because you are a brown African!

      Still slowly coming to terms with my identity. Hopefully soon I can let go of a need for one and just BE, like you 😉

  3. Mah-Jabeen Jesani

    Narissa this is so real! Thank you for putting all these thoughts, feelings and experiences in to words. You are really brave for doing this!

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      1. Jesse

        I think so too!The social gap that exists between Muhindis and African Kenyans needs to be filled we should start this conversation now,so that in future Kenyans of different ancestry can look at each other as brother and sister

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  4. Manyala

    Kenyans are a divided people but this division is a product of tribal polytricks. Put politics aside and you will find Kenyans sharing neighborhoods, markets, matatus, churches, hotels, marriages etc. All Kenyans except Indians and Somalis. & it is these two groups that are always asking why they are not seen as Kenyan.

    Imagine a ‘black Kenyan’ as you call us marrying an Indian or a Somali, it is un-imaginable. It has made news in the recent past. Indians & Somalis want to live in isolation (in Parklands or Eastleigh, in Kisumu & Nakuru) from the rest of Kenyans and expect to be accepted as Kenyans. In Umoja where I live when Somalis move into a flat, they take the whole flat to themselves. Indians on the other hand are a rarity in the larger Eastlands.

    There is an Indian from Migori who lives with the locals and even speaks Luo, I doubt if he feels less Kenyan or if Migori residents ‘notice’ him as you say your color makes you feel noticed. People like Shakeel Shabir of Kisumu, the Indian MP from Meru Abdul Rahim Dawood and the Somali MP for Suna Junet Mohamed are a few who’ve gone against these communal tendencies of your people.

    You guys want to be seen as Kenyan, then burst that thin bubble that separates you from the rest of us and voila, you will be Kenyan.

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Hi Manyala, I agree with most of what you say – there is certainly a fault of many Kenyans of Indian or Somali descent who do not integrate (perhaps white too?). However, there is often an assumption and lack of acceptance by black Kenyans of Kenyans of a different colour. I will be addressing more of this interaction in my next post. But, speaking as someone living in Nairobi who has broken all those barriers of isolation (ask any of my friends and they will verify this), I still face discrimination. It happened in my previous workplace where assumptions were made that I would act elitist (due to my being a Mhindi), until 3 months in my colleagues actually apologized for getting me wrong and assuming before getting to know me. It happens every day when people are surprised and disbelieving that I am indeed Kenyan. Could give several more examples. The fault lies, I believe, on both sides. More on this in the next week or so..

  5. nali

    I really love conversations such as these. Aleya Kassam wrote about this on her blog chanyado too but from a different perspective. I hope such articles strengthen the discourse of what it means to be Kenyan. An honest and beautifully written account.

  6. Janan

    Narissa, this is brilliant. I’ve faced this everywhere I go- through high school, through five years at university of nairobi and my internship at coast general. Constantly being questioned on my “kenyan-ness”, my ability to speak the language: which of course if I was not able to, treating my patients would have been impossible. Constantly having to prove that I can speak it , just because on a social platform I prefer to communicate in English.
    And of course, the endless mockery of my british/ameriacan/??? fusion foreign accent.
    Leave me alone already.

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      Narissa Allibhai

      When will we move past having to fit into a specified (exclusive) idea of what it means to be Kenyan? Or any other nationality for that matter?
      And YOU are so freaking Kenyan you know.

  7. Nadiya

    You have completely echoed my feelings of existence…. except that I visited and studied in Karachi in an internationally recognised university AKU and felt completely belonged…. there is definitely a need to tell our story…. definitely a need to bring awareness that we may actually be a separate “breed” of culture– neither Asian nor African— a new culture— Asian- African :-)

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  8. McDonald Jenkins

    This is so real but I have been to East Africa and have noticed some couple of things. Please can someone explain to me:-
    1.Why most of Indians in Tanzania and Kenya speak broken swahili despite of being born there? They only speak perfect English and Gujarati.
    2. Why Indians never marry black africans?
    3. Why Indians in Africa are Pushy, bossy and have sense of superiority towards blacks?

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Hi McDonald.
      1. I believe this is a result of growing up in very tight-knit communities, such as how I describe my childhood. In these communities, the language used is Gujarati or Hindi with the older population, and English amongst the younger. Often, they attend international schools that teach in English and often DO NOT EVEN OFFER Swahili (this is something that I have not forgiven my schools for), itself a problematic manifestation of post-colonial superiority complex.
      2. Marrying within one’s community is not unique to Indians. It’s usually taboo to even marry outside one’s religion. Many black Kenyan parents also prefer their children to marry within the same ethnic group and/or religion. However, in general I definitely observe that a black Kenyan would more readily date/marry a brown Kenyan than the other way around – and I do believe that there is a racial superiority complex that pervades a lot of the Indian Kenyan population, especially the middle-aged population.
      3. Beats me, and makes me extremely angry and often ashamed of my identity. It is definitely handed down the generations, and the isolation of these communities doesn’t help.

      I’m planning to tackle this issue in my next post on Brown Privilege, which will straight up call out my brethren, also look at historical reasons for the racism.

  9. Matthew Henry

    Beautiful piece Narissa! I thought it was powerfully honest and came from a deep place.

    ( I only got round to reading this now, lazy ass reader… :) )

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  10. Amy Shaw

    Nari, this is an amazing blog. It’s completely the same for me – if I got a shilling for every time I was asked ‘no where are you really from’ haha!

    Lets meet up when I am back in Kenya

    xx

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  11. Bob Agevi Mulusa

    I think Kenya itself is struggling with what being Kenyan is, especially so as we find ourselves stuck somewhere between colonial mindsets and the current digital century. We are like Neo in the Matrix who finds himself in the train station somewhere between our world and their world and cannot get out. The thing that keeps us in there, the train man, is/are, poverty and our political leaders, and when i say poverty i really mean greed and institutional mismanagement. Kenya has been a nation of cosmopolitan town centers for too long, but still we WANT a Kisii to be called yule Mu-kisii in the heart of Maragoli, ama a Masai to be ‘called’ Mu-masai in the heart of Kakamega instead of by his name. By 1992 i thought we were moving forward, something happened around then that put us back and it was our divisive politics.

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Thanks for the insightful comments, Bob. Unfortunately it is our leaders who continue to play mind games with us and making our beautifully unique cultural background into vicious reasons for division, separation, alienation, then hatred and violence. How do we counter this?!

      And then the idea of being “Kenyan” itself is a false construct..

  12. Mutemi wa Kiama

    Narissa, I am considered Kenyan because am African, because I born here in Kenya, I have all the documentation, I speak a native Kenyan language fluently, I speak Swahili, I speak English, all with the correct middle-class accents, intonations and nuances (I think)… I consider myself Kenyan, but when I look at the thieving all around me, the looting, the societal decadence, and how casual we all are about it…I feel alien, from another planet…So who am I?

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      Narissa Allibhai

      That’s an interesting one. These days, it’s not so easy to be a proud Kenyan. Guess it’s time to redefine and reclaim what it means to be Kenyan..

  13. Schambach

    Hi Narissa, I’m glad I found this article and that you decided to write about this. I sort of relate to your story though mine is very different. I’m a black Kenyan who lived for awhile in the states when I was young and when I came back I was basically an american kid who had to be thrust into Kenyan life( and I wasn’t living in Nairobi btw). It was very difficult at first but slowly I did regain my Kenyan identity.
    This article also means a lot to me because I’ve always been concerned about how Kenyan indians are such a tight nit group and don’t intermingle much with black kenyans. One of the best friends I’ve ever had was an Kenyan indian with a punjabi background. I was very sad when he left the school we were in to go to an international school and that’s when I fully realised, for the first time, just how tight knit and secluded the Indian community in Kenya is. I’m glad that you’re talking about this, because I believe that this is a conversation that we need to have as Kenyans of all backgrounds. I’m fully convinced that the indian community has a lot more to contribute to Kenya if only they interacted more with other kenyans and shared their culture and also learned more about the culture of other Kenyans.

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Hi Schambach.

      How did it feel to come back to Kenya (out of Nairobi) along with your new accent and ways acquired in America? Do you feel that you are fully re-integrated as an accepted Kenyan again?

      Regarding Indian Kenyan seclusion, agreed (wholeheartedly), and will tackle this issue further in an upcoming post.

      1. Schambach

        Thanks for taking the time to read my comment! :) When I came back other kids would always make fun of my accent, which made me hyperaware that I had an accent. I would subsequently try to speak more like an ordinary Kenyan because I always stuck out everywhere I went but after awhile I grew tired of it and just decided to embrace who I am. I eventually relearned swahili and when I speak swahili these days you’d be hard pressed to differentiate me from ordinary kenyans but when I speak english I have a fusion of american, and kenyan accents(though mostly american). So in a way I am accepted as kenyan once people get to know me, but I also feel different from the rest a lot of times.

        I still have a strong connection to the states and don’t think it’ll be hard for me to fit in if I ever return there. And I would love to return there some day. I still prefer american music and movies and a lot of times I feel more connected to american culture. Nowadays I would say I consider myself Kenyan, with an american background.

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          Narissa Allibhai

          Interesting that you find it easier to fit into America despite not being American, while it’s harder to fit back into Kenya yet you are Kenyan. I guess America has embraced its cosmopolitan nature – although I would rarely try emulate most aspects of America (especially with regard to international relations and politics), this could be one leaf we should take out of America’s book..

  14. Charles Nguli

    Nice I have enjoyed it so much. Having studied at Aga Khan High School form 1 to 6 I made good friends with many Asian friends and enjoyed their hospitality, generousity, festivals, food, sweets, jokes, some cricket, singing, drama etc which boils that we are all the same. But frankly I miss those friends because they just dissappeared after school. At least I have one Ismaili friend who was not even in my class but we share alot with him and keeps me happy. I bring him fresh maragwe (beans) and pili pili (chillies) from my farm and in return I get bundels of chevra and masala tea.

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      Narissa Allibhai

      It’s true, we are the same, and when you leave kids together without negatively influencing their mindsets, skin colour really doesn’t matter to them! I wonder why most of your Asian friends disappeared, maybe they were sucked into the isolated confines of their community.. But so happy to hear about your good Ismaili friend, now you making me hungry…. ;D

  15. Akshay Malde

    Great reflection! A few thoughts,
    The colonial period, which spanned a few hundred years, only ended a mere 40 to 70 years ago, a period were people were enslaved, oppressed and in some cases had genocide committed against them, all based skin colour. Although we live in the 21st century, “racial prejudices” are no distant memory, they’re still strongly engraved into most societies that were unfortunate enough to have experienced colonialism. Ultimately I believe that’s the source of why you don’t feel accepted in Kenya.
    Also, I think identity is too special to base it on nationality, ethnicity or culture. There are far more things that make you special and give you purpose than simply being Kenyan, Indian or Khoja.
    Though if you really want to know who, how or what you’re perceived as, you should try living in a country with a completely different cultural and historical background from your cultural and historical background. Kenya, India, Canada and the US all fall into one bubble of linguistic and historical background. Preconceptions about people in these countries translate from one country to the other very easily. Hence if you try living in Sweden, for example, you’re living out of the bubble of preconceptions. You may get better insight as to how you’re viewed based on you’re skin colour and your ethnic and cultural backgrounds and this may give you a better understanding of yourself.
    😉

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  16. Jackson Kamau Ndegwa

    I would not for a second pretend that I understand your struggles and the profiling you face but it’s nice you shared what it feels like….I wish there was something all of us would do to help

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Thanks Kama! I was recently in Lamu, where the mix of cultures in this little Swahili town was such that I felt so welcome and unquestionably Kenyan…that was a great feeling.

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          Narissa Allibhai

          Perhaps it was the mix of cultures in Lamu, including Arabian culture, and the integration and mingling of people from different backgrounds. Also, people are genuinely welcoming, in an unpretentious way with no ulterior motives.

  17. Chishimba Milongo

    Narissa, lovely piece here.
    I am a “local” Zambian with very little understanding of our Zambians of Indian origin. This piece here has taught me so many lessons about Indian Africans which I would have never known in my lifetime. The seclusion of the Indian community in African countries I guess is almost the same everywhere. I remember in the small northern Zambia town of Mpika there lived an Ïndian trader who had two sons. These boys were brought up learning the “Indian” ways at home and Bemba culture from their mates. They spoke Bemba with a local accent and English with a Zambian accent. Sadly business proved difficult in this rural setting and they had to shift to the capital Lusaka. Their business has prospered and it is difficult to link up with them. I would have loved to share your thoughts with them and see if they experience what you go through. I thank you. Thanks to the internet for enabling me to stumble upon this informative, insightful article.

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Thanks Chishimba! It’s interesting how isolation of communities is self-reinforcing. It can provide comfort and familiarity, perhaps, but in my opinion integration is the way to go. Love the fusing of cultures you talk about!

  18. Girish Patel

    Hi Narissa,
    Wonderfully presented.
    I was born in India, M.S in U.S. and lived in Tanzania and now migrated to U.S. Sincerely shared your feelings.
    I loved the last piece about geographical boundaries dividing us.
    Read “The Illusion of National Character” by Hamilton Fyfe. It will give lot of answers to what has happened and is happening to this world by few people.

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  19. Rehmat

    You should have visited Pakistan which is home to world’s largest Ismaili community. Its formerly princely state of Hunza was ruled by an Ismaili emir. Even the father of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born into a Gujarati Ismaili family. Agha Khan the Great was one of the top leaders of All India Muslim League.

    Karachi city is home to world’s largest Jama’at Khana and the only world-class Ismaili nursing University.

  20. jayjay

    Be You, Be Happy, Be Awesome!

    Don’t let ethnicity,religion,color, sex, nationality define who you are, what you are and where you belong…

    I am i mixed race of Kenyan & Indian And proud to be both.

    Embrace Diversity! We all are children of God

  21. maina ndiritu

    You are Kenyan of Indian heritage … I have no more right in Kenya than you do … privilege is God given , thank God for it

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      Narissa Allibhai

      Perfect example of one of the stereotypes that needs to be dispelled. I am born and raised in Kenya, as were my parents and grandparents. It’s just my skin colour that is different.

  22. Eddy

    Well…as I see it,we’re all Kenyans as long as we all pay taxes,obey the traffic lights (Well,sorry for plagiarising Obama)…and loathe terror related vices…Doesn’t matter whether u r a Zionist,Buddhist,Muslim,Christians…

    Hey,we’ve a gothic country.Let’s be proud of it😊😊😙😙Shift_L

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  23. Rachel Njeru

    Hi Narissa. I love your blog. I am in high school. Racism pains me. Even my nails and hair know this. Sometimes back, I thought that God must have surely made a mistake. If not not, why did he create people with different colours? Why? So that looking at each other, even without knowing each other, they will judge and hate each other? So that people looking at a person like you, who has a different skin colour, they will ask all sought of questions to make that person lack a sense of identity? So that some people may think that their colour is the best and all others are inferior? Why then? I did not get an answer? Then after thinking for a while, I now very well know that God was not wrong. He will never make a mistake. He is too Good to do that. I have never been in any other country except Kenya. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t travelled the world. I have travelled a lot, all over the world, through books. This books have been my ticket to different places in the world. So looking at Kenya, and having read about so many places in the world, I’m contented that the whole world is beautiful. And now I view the world as a supper beautiful painting. And God, as a professional painter. Now tell me, which professional painter, would paint his painting in one colour and expect it to look beautiful? So God, like any good painter coloured people in different colours so that his world would look beautiful. But then the question I ask my self is this. If we all are beautiful paintings, painted in different colours, by the the same painters, then why judge and hate each other without even hating each other? Why should we looking at a person with a different skin colour, question him to make him lack a sense of Identity? Why should some people think that their colour is the best and others are inferior? Why? Should the colour to a person be the one to say who he or she is? Doesn’t such a person deserve a chance to prove who he or she really is? Should skin colour be all that matters? I like your thinking about being human and not being African, Asian,American etc. I am waiting for the day that people will stop being racists and will stop being staring at a person simply because of the skin colour. I am longing for such a day. Such a day should come and come soon. So that I can stop thinking that I should not say,Najivunia kuwa Mkenya, but rather say, Najihurumia kuwa Mkenya.

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      Author
      Narissa Allibhai

      Hi Rachel!
      Thanks for your thoughts, and your provoking questions. I think of variety (whether of skin colour, hair, interests, culture, etc) as beauty in diversity. Though when it comes to skin colour, there’s also the practical aspect of more melanin in hotter countries to protect from the hot sun 😉 I love the fact that you have travelled the world through books, I’m sure your imagination has created some wonderful places and that you have learned much and opened your mind through your reading! About your analogy of God as a creative painter…. Love it. I have a Rwandan friend who defines beauty as inner beauty – the goodness of a person. When she finds someone beautiful, it has nothing to do with their looks or outward appearance, but who they truly are. I find that amazing, she’s a special person that we can learn from! Meanwhile, from one human/global citizen to another, appreciating you and wishing you all the best of luck in your endeavors!

  24. Rachel Njeru

    Thank you so much for reading my comment and replying. I like the thinking of your Rwandan friend about beauty as inner beauty. If everyone thought like this, then the world would surely be a better place to live. Thank you once again for your good wishes. Thank you.

  25. Dr Rajiv Shori

    I really beg to differ with you i am a Kenyan born Asiana and grew up with Arficans from the age of 10 years In primary and high school i interacted with Aficans , and Asians. I studied medicine in the former
    Soviet Union . I then worked in Kenya for2 years as a doctor of Medicine at the provincial general hospital in Nakuru After that I went to the U,K and the US
    I have done a postgraduate masters degree in counselling Psychology at the United states International University in Nairobi I have just completed a bachelors in law at the Mount Kenya University in Nairobi I speak very fluent Kiswahili , Hindi Punjabi Russian , Ukrainian and Chinese
    I have interacted with people of all colors, races, religions and caste
    I am very proud to be a Kenyan Asian and i feel at home in Kenya. Most of my friends and colleagues are Kenyan Africans Kikuyus, luo, Kamba , Kalenjins

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