President Uhuru Kenyatta has gazetted the recognition of the Kenyans of Indian decent as the 44th tribe in Kenya and invited them to participate in the political, economic, cultural and social development of the nation.
The presidential proclamation is contained in the special gazette issue of July 21, 2017.
Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who made the announcement on Saturday on behalf of the president, noted the community’s great sense of civic duty and its key role in setting up learning and health institutions, which he noted, serve to supplement the government initiatives.
“The Head of State acknowledges that the Kenyan Asian’s contribution to Kenya has its roots at the dawn of our Nation,” Mr. Matiang’i spoke yesterday on the stairs of Harambee house, which houses the office of the president.
In mid-May, 2017, the community requested the formal recognition through a petition to the president.
“On consideration of the petition, His Excellency the President opined that the petition merits action. In this regard, we are gathered here this morning to honour the requests by handing over the presidential proclamation that grants the community their wishes,” he said.
However, the president’s move has been termed political to sway the support of the Asian community in the August 8, 2017 elections.
“The president needed to form a commission to advise him on citizenship because not everyone who applies should qualify,” Barasa Nyukuri, a governance expert said.
The recognition, under the presidential proclamation, comes just days of president Uhuru granting similar recognition to the members of the Makonde community, originally from Mozambique and now living in the Coastal region of Kenya, as the 43rd tribe.
Mr. Matiang’i, who was accompanied by Chief of Staff and head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and a section of the community led by Ms. Farah Mannzoor, noted Kenya’s national pride in ethnic, cultural and religious diversity as the bedrock of her unity as a sovereign nation.
“This contribution that began with the construction of our nation’s first railway line continues to this day, with the Kenyan Asian Community having a well-deserved reputation for excellence in industry as well as charitable and philanthropic works,” he noted.
The proclamation means that all persons, bodies and authorities within the country shall recognise the community in line with articles 11 and 44 of the constitution of Kenya that protects the duty of the government to promote and protect the diverse cultural heritage of Kenya.
Some of the institutions that have been established in the country by the community include the Visa-Oshwal and Guru-Nanak among others.
The president challenged the community to continuously engage the government and play a more active role in public service, particularly in political representation.
“Kenya’s diversity is not a cause for division, it is our greatest strength.”