Hindu socio-religious organizations in Kenya: a case study of Arya Samaj, 1903-1978
Ombongi, Kenneth S
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The Hindus in Kenya are generally viewed in several restricted ways, notwithstanding their long history this country . Often they are identified as adherents Hinduism; although the tremendous components that constitute Hindus are seldom understood. More often than not, the publicity given in the mass media particularly when the Hindu Council of Kenya (H.C.K) extends material or financial assistance to victims of calamities for philanthropic purposes, the re emerges a faint recognition of Hindus as a separate group among Kenyans of Indian descent. As to the actual groups of religious and secular alike, that constitute the whole corpus that most people know as Hindus , scarcely any knowledge is to be found; save for a few books which either lump all Indians together or less meticulously mention some of the groups in question. This study is an attempt to isolate one of the many Hindu socio-religious group s in Kenya - the Arya Samaj which was founded in 1875 in Bombay, and write its history.The thesis consists of six chapters and a number of items in the appendix, Chapter one outlines the procedure followed in the study, aims and objectives. The focus of the study as indicated here is to investigate and analyze the antecedents of a Samaj movement i n Kenya.In doing so, complex and sophisticated religious theories and arguments have been left out.Despite historical links with East Africa, particularly) the coastal region, mass migrations and permanent settlement of Hindus in Kenya pa particularly were prominently witnessed from the dawn of the twentieth century. The forces of 'push' and 'pull' were at play in the process of migration and settlement; and the economic factor comes out as the prime mover of events in process. All the events of migration and settlement of Indians generally and Hindus in particular constitute the theme of chapter two.In chapter three, the origin and establishment of Ary_ Samaj organizations in Kenya is discussed. By the time the followers of Arya Samaj emigrated from India; the movement was a quarter century old, which means that it was still forceful and popular. It is probable that its followers from Punjab, an Arya Samaj stronghold, came to rer-ya with a similar spirit and founded Arya SamaJ organizations in most of the urban centers they settled.By 1930s these organizations existed in Nairobi, Mombasa,Kisumu,Nakuru , Eldoret, Kitale and Nanyuki.With the dawn of political independence in Kenya, a number of problems beset Hindus, and thus required corporate efforts to redress them. Subsequently the Hindu Scuncil of Kenya (HCK) was set up as a non-political institution composed of Hindu socio-religious organizations. It was intended to be not on a mouthpiece of Hindus on crucial issues that affected them but also to co-ordinate their efforts in their activities in Kenya. The Arya-Sarna among others played a crucial role in the creation of H.C.K. Arya Samaj activities in Kenya have over the years revolved around religious, social and philanthropic fields. These activities are discussed in chapter four. Religiously, weekly meetings and annual celebrations are held. The Arya Samaj is one of the Hindu religious organizations known to seek converts among Kenyans of other races. It is also known to be the pioneer in the provision of educational facilities for Indian girls in Kenya.In chapter five, the colonial Government's suspicion at Arya Samaj was a political movement and anti-British is discussed. During World War I, Arya Samaj movement was suspected to be involved in clandestine activities aimed at undermining the British authority in Kenya.This suspicion resulted into a crackdown on the followers of Arya Samaj in Mombasa by the British Military , authorities. They were charged with sedition and a death sentence passed over them. However , they were released in 1918. From that time Arya Samaj as a corporate body steered clear of political activities though its members in their individual capacities have many a time come to the political limelight in the country over the years. Notable among these was Gidhari Lal Vidyarthi the press.It is hoped that this study will shed some light on Arya Samaj in Kenya and in particular and on Hind u socio-religious organizations in general. Thus filling the existing gap of knowledge and enhance the understanding of the Arya Samaj movement in Kenya.