来源:VOA 2019-03-31



South Asian Kenyans Declared Countrys 44th Tribe

People from South Asian countries have been a part of Kenyan society for more than 100 years.

Until recently, the government did not officially recognize them.

But that changed in July, when Asian Kenyans were declared a tribejust like the Maasai, Luo, Kikuyu and others.

They are Kenyas 44th tribe.

Fred Matiang is Kenyas acting minister of the interior. He made the announcement.

Now, you are part and parcel of us formally. You are part and parcel of Kenyas great family. And we expect that we will continue this integration in all spheres of life.”

Part and parcelmeans an important part of something.

Matiang encouraged the Asian community to participate in all parts of Kenyan society, includinggovernment and government processes.”

In 2008, Shakeel Shabbir became Kenyas first Member of Parliament of Asian descent. He is now one of four members of Asian descent.

Shabbir worked on getting the Kenyan government to recognize the countrys Asian community.

Shabbirs father was one of thousands of Indian laborers who helped build the Kenya-Uganda railway over 100 years ago. Many of those Indians stayed in Kenya. They built businesses and purchased land. But some felt that they were unable to make a big difference in Kenyan politics and society.

Now they have a better chance of doing that, Shabbir said.

You feel more comfortable now than you did before,” he said. “Now what? Its a two-way job. You have been recognized by the system, now we want you to take your role in society.”

Not every Asian in Kenya will be recognized, however. The move only covers those who were born in the country.

Farah Manzoor is a fifth-generation Kenyan of Indian descent. She started working on the issue of getting Asian Kenyans recognized in 2010. She explained that Asians will now be included in government employment quotas.


Kenyas constitution requires the government to employ people from different tribes. But that does not always happen.

The New York Times recently reported on the push to include Asians as a Kenyan tribe. It said the political party in power often shows favor toward their own tribe. People may receive better work and education opportunities if their tribe is in power.

While some celebrated the move, others criticized Kenyan societys focus on different tribes.

Zahid Rajan is a writer and a member of the Kenyan Asian Forum. He said Kenyansas a whole have been marginalized.” He said he believes Kenyan society cannot improve or become more inclusive if only one or two ethnic groups are in charge. He also said pushing forthe rights of a minority community to seek special status is whats wrong and divisive.”

Kenyas national election is on August 8. President Uhuru Kenyatta is Kikuyu. His opponent, Raila Odinga, is Luo.

The Kikuyu and the Luo are Kenyas two biggest ethnic groups.

Im Dan Friedell.

Rael Ombuor wrote this story for TingVOA.com. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.




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