Thursday, January 28, 2016

Empire and me

 Growing up in the colony of Kenya and is not easy to forget like the Jews of WWII cannot forget the Nazis. Yes the Anglo Saxons have changed but what is troubling is erasing history or memory of Empire in much of discourse today. Today's world was carved out by yesterdays Empire, leaving Australia more than twice the size of India with the population of Mumbai and still keeps allegiance to the Queen. Another legacy is racism, still prevalent in European societies. Born in colonial Kenya surrounded by the "White highlands" of the Rift Valley we were reminded every day of our place as Indians  of Empire. One incident stands out, I was 7 yeas of age, and the local white (english) farmer wanted flour in the middle of the night from our flour mill, so he came knocking to our house in his car, my father had to sit in the back seat and not with him, a black worker required to sit in the boot of the car holding the boot hood over him, this was 1963, and like the Holocaust we must not forget how Empire operated. 
India just celebrated 67 years of independence  and why from whom, must not be forgotten. Arriving in the UK in the 70's was not pleasant experience either, I was beaten on many occasions "Paki bashing"  age 11, I used to think these people ruled half the world and yet why are they so racist. Having learnt WWII history it is odd for Indians decry Hitler when at the same time Churchill vowed never to leave India for all Hitler wanted to do to Europe was what the Europeans did to their colonies around the world in previous centuries. I avidly read about the Jews and Nazis, where race was the all consuming idea of the day, and it was the same for me under the British in Kenya.

PS the US Declaration of Independence  is a constant reminder of the list of horrors committed by the British, to their own kith and kin, in the US colonies, a white Anglo Saxon christian populations of 1777,  after the British defeat by the US the army was sent to India, a pagan brown race and Indians have yet to record what happened there.

Jayesh Patel 
born in colonial Kenya

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