Why ‘Asian’ tribe declaration will expose us to problems

Kenya has a new tribe — Asians — whose inclusion in the census President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered.

I have an issue with this because the term “Asian”, to me, includes people such as Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Indians and not necessarily Indians born in Kenya.

Many Kenyans mistake the term “Hindu Asians” for Indians.

Hindi is the language spoken in India, including by the more than 250 million black Indians who established the Harrapan and Indus Valley civilisation, called Dravidians.

The Indians of Kenya are from three tribes — Shah, Patel and Goan — and referring to them as Asians is wrong.


The Chinese are also Asians and may also want to be included in the census.

The government has erred in declaring Indians of Kenyan origin “Asians”, who have now become the 44th tribe in Kenya. Someone will one day challenge in court the use of the term “Asian” as a tribe because it is a conglomeration of different ethnic groups. It is akin to recognising Africans in the Diaspora as a “tribe”.

Of late, new tribes have emerged from obscurity – such as the Makonde, originally from Nyasaland, Nubians from Sudan and now “Asians”, who descended from Indian coolies who built the Kenya-Uganda railway.

The 45th tribe of Kenya should now be the Chinese.


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