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Three Continents, Three Generations

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 16 July 2014

Neil Kanwal traces the history of Kenyan Asian migration to Britain, a path followed by his own father's family across three continents and three generations.

In 1896 the British sent thousands of indentured labourers from India to Kenya, to build the Uganda Railway from Mombasa on Kenya's coast to Lake Victoria in Uganda. It was a remarkable feat of engineering and initiated a growing Asian presence in the country. Travelling on the same railroad today, Neil examines how the community prospered over the following decades.

Professor Yash Ghai shares memories of his formative years in the segregated society of colonial Kenya, while back at the British Library, Neil studies the records of the India Office to find out more about the challenges they faced.

During the 1960s and 1970s, facing uncertainty in a new, independent Kenya many utilised their link with Britain to settle in the UK, causing alarm among both the government and public. From adjusting to British life, to the affect of migration on their identity, the programme concludes with the experiences of some of the 100,000 Kenyan Asians who made Britain their new home.

In this documentary Neil embarks on a personal exploration of the unique experiences, culture and movements of Kenyan Asians, in a story of Empire, identity, discrimination and migration.


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