Cover Story

Cover Story (13)

By Kersi My maternal grandpa Burjorji, and granny Mithibai, lived in Mombasa for a very long time. The surname, Commissariat, was one of the anglicised occupational names the Parsis adopted or acquired. It means an officer in charge of the department of an army that provides daily food and supplier for soldiers. Grandpa attributed it to his great grandfather, who worked for the British after they took over India. He was, however known in Mombasa as Burjorji C. Grandpa had arrived in Mombasa as a teenager in 1907, to work as a cashier in the National Bank and was therefore…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:51


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By Sheila Rampersad SAMOSA 2006 was held from 15 to 25 November in partnership with the GoDown Arts Centre. The exhibition and performances were located at the GoDown while avant-garde films from India were shown at the Alliance Francaise. Day visits by students from the Visa Oshwal Academy, The Arya Schools, Riverwood Primary and Shangalia Watoto greatly added to the general interest in the Festival. Highlight of SAMOSA 2006 was the KACHUMBARI 7. A band of seven musicians, South Asian, African and European, met over a period of three months to synthesize various musical instruments ranging from the Shehenai and…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:50


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By Awaaz correspondence Born and bred in Kenya's Nairobi City, Gupz has been performing since the age of 7 when he was introduced to the tabla by his father, Amrik Singh Saund. Getting to the Tabla inspired G to pursue his dream to become Kenya's most talked about African-born Asian musician in the past couple of years. Greatly inspired, Gupz began gaining first hand experience performing around Kenya. Initially as a percussionist and disc jockey, Gupz is now a full fledged singer and music composer and is working on his forthcoming music album: EASTERN PROMISES. Having heard his vocals, Dad…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:49


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By Shoma Chaudhuri Arundhati Roy interviewed by Shoma Chaudhuri 26 March, 2007 Tehelka SC: There is an atmosphere of growing violence across the country. How do you read the signs? Do you think it will grow more in the days to come? What are its causes? In what context should all this be read? AR: You don't have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, being reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrializing western countries which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:49


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By For most self-exiled Indians in America, like me, the image of the 'new India' has been a comforting presence. The eight per cent growth, the city of Bangalore, the impending US-India nuclear energy pact, the cheers from commentators such as Thomas Friedman is the culmination of aspirations of years. After all, this is the respect that we knew India deserved on America's main street as well as on the world stage. Today, we nod in agreement in a redeeming sort of way as news about the 'new India' becomes ubiquitous. On weekend calls with a kin, we glow…
By Neera Kapila. The Arya Samaj is a small segment of the Asian African mosaic in Kenya, its contribution to the society is immense, with both sung and unsung heroes, in its just over a hundred years history in Kenya and East Africa. Through the decades, individuals from the Samaj have risen to make noted contribution within the Asian African block, its place in the broad society, and to the nation. Ngugi wa Thiong'o in his book Detained, observes, that from 1893, the Indian workers, Indian labour leaders, and progressive newspaper editors, have contributed a lot to Kenya's anti-imperialist struggle.…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:47


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By Pyarally M Rattansi Bridging the Gujarati Divide - Launch of a web-based digital Gujarati Lexicon Conceiving, organising, and bringing to a triumphant conclusion nothing less than a web-based digital Gujarati Lexicon through the passion and commitment of a private individual is a remarkable achievement. I should like to join the other speakers here today in paying warm tribute to Ratibhai Chandaria for that great accomplishment. Ratibhai's achievement consists not only in grasping the great potential offered by a web-based digital lexicon. He has had to master the technical and organisational problems involved in facilitating the transition from a text-based…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:46


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By Chris L Wanjala When I look at Barrack Obama of the U.S. and the debates about his eligibility for the U.S. presidency on the one hand and listen to talks about ethnic clashes and ethnic cleansing in Europe and Africa, on the other hand, I remind myself of the cultural and biological facts that we are all cultural half-castes in the sense that there is nothing pure about us. The future of Africa is a chotara future, or if you will, a future of half-castes of one shade or another. Our real identity is the human identity. Every culture…
By Awaaz Correspondent Introduction The Caribbean is persistently regarded as among the most ethnically diverse of New World locations. Indeed, the region's history of European colonialism, African enslavement, Indian indentureship, and the more recent immigration of Syrians, Lebanese, and Chinese have resulted in complex contemporary demographics. Relations between the descendants of Africans and Indians, in particular, have emerged in the postcolonial, post-independence period, as a primary social and political consideration. While these two groups have contributed significantly to the enriching and unique cultural foundation for what is now termed "Caribbean culture", there remain serious conflicts over what constitutes the "nation",…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:42


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By Ramnik Shah The focus of "They came in dhows and left in jets" (Awaaz, Issue 1, 2006) was the Asian diaspora ('The Departed'!) that has sprung out of East Africa. Here we examine what led to the migration of large numbers of East African Asians (EAAs) to the UK and North America, with particular reference to Kenya, and to assess its significance in a wider historical context 'Wind of Change': writing on the wall The starting point has to be the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan`s famous "Wind of Change" speech at Cape Town in early 1960, signalling that…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:42


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By Mohamed Jiwa The tailback that snarls the traffic on any Sunday evening at 7.15 pm extends all the way to the valley of Masari Road and 1st Avenue, Parklands. It inches forward towards a little South Asian village in Highridge, Nairobi. One joins this motorcade with the acquiescence of a prospective employee who has long contemplated his application, and now dissolves into the queue for his work permit with resigned confidence, expecting the usual snags. The car that joins the end of this feverish train would expect to purchase the turn at 4th Avenue, a distance of three blocks,…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:41


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By Rasna Warah I am one of those women you see in that architectural disaster on 4th Avenue Parklands wandering frantically from shop to shop, looking for the latest (pirated) copies of Bollywood music, rummaging through bales of kurtas and salwaar kameezes and generally looking pleased with herself after landing a bargain. I go there at least once every fortnight, and if I have money to spare, sometimes once a week, usually on a weekday when there are fewer people and when I can indulge in my addiction with a smaller crowd looking on. When did this addiction start and…
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:40


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By Sunny Bindra There it is, tucked away in Nairobi's Highridge area: the strangest of shopping malls. Like some bizarre human-sized rabbit warren, full of confusing corners, surprising staircases and odd little businesses in basements, on roofs, in the car park. You almost expect Alice to pop up somewhere in this wonderland - except that Diamond Plaza, or 'DP' as we locals call it, is a purely South Asian phenomenon, and Alice would have to be called Alya, and be wearing a little salwar-kameez. You can buy madafu in the car park at DP. Or watch others do it while…