Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday commended the people of Indian origin in Kenya for preserving their culture and tradition despite being away from their land of origin for generations.
“There must be people of third generation or fourth generation here,” Modi said in his trademark diaspora rally at the Kasarani Stadium here soon after arriving from Tanzania on the fourth and final leg of his four-nation African tour.
“They must have only heard about Ganga, Assam, Nagaland or Mizoram. Despite this, it is commendable that they have been able to preserve their culture,” he said to rapturous cheers from a crowd of over 20,000 people.
There are around 80,000 people of India origin in Kenya, most of whose ancestors were brought as labour for the railways the then British rulers were building or came as traders.
“In Kenya, I have experienced the full diversity of India and all its fragrances,” the Prime Minister said.
He also commended the Indian community for contributing to Kenya’s development.
“Whatever be the reason and compulsions behind your ancestors coming to Kenya, you made it your own land and worked for Kenya’s progress,” he said.
Modi got a pleasant surprise when Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta joined him at the venue unannounced.
Welcoming Modi, Kenyatta said that he was glad and excited that Modi accepted his invitation to visit Kenya.
Stating that Kenya was a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, he said: “These people in front may be of Indian origin, but in heart, mind and soul they are truly Kenyan citizens.”
On his part, Modi said that it was a matter of “great privilege and honour for all of us that President Kenyatta is also among us to grace the occasion”.
“For me and for India, it is a great, great honour,” he said.
This is the first prime ministerial visit from India to Kenya in 35 years after the visit of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982.