Indian diaspora excited by Obamania in Kenya

Letter from New Delhi

During his two-day safari starting on 24 July 2015, President Obama may not meet many Kenyan Indians but Kenyan Indians expect a boost for their country.

“As a Kenyan, I am proud that President Obama is visiting my country,” said Kanti Patel, a Kenya citizen settled for three generations in this country, ”After all, he is the head of the most powerful country in the world and his roots are in Kenya.”

Most of the 90,000 Indians in Kenya are citizens of this nation and identify themselves with his land. A good number left Kenya in late Sixties and Seventies but those who have stayed on for over half a century since independence are committed to it.

“Obama visited his father’s country, Kenya, in 2006 as a US senator. But after he became President, he avoided Kenya during his African visits due to various reasons, but now that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been cleared of charges in the International Criminal Court, Obama is visiting Kenya,” said an Indian lawyer who declined to be named.

Like true businessmen, Kenya Indians engaged in the tourism sector welcome this visit. “Our business has been badly affected with terror strikes in Nairobi and Mombasa and this visit by President Obama will increase tourism,” said P. L. Shah, the owner of a souvenir shop, “Our mainstay for many years was tourist business, dead since June of last year. We took steps to diversify – that is a slow change-over but let us hope that tourism will revive after this visit.” Tourism has already picked up with hotels fully booked in Nairobi and upcountry and the annual migration is in full swing in Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Some Indian businessmen from Africa are likely to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi to be inaugurated by President Obama on 25 July 2015. It will be the sixth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials. A 30-year old Indian with roots in Uganda, Ashish J. Thakkar, is most likely to be there. At 15 years old, Thakkar dropped out of school to start his own business with a $5,000 loan

now he is worth $260 million with operations in 16 countries. Other Indian businessmen from East Africa will also attend this summit which will no doubt attract many investors to Kenya. Some Kenya Indian leaders are likely to be invited to Obama’s meeting with civil society on Sunday.

Most Kenyans will watch Obama on their TV sets as strict security precautions have been taken by closing many main roads of Nairobi, moving away all street children and hawkers, street vendors, shanties on roads and deploying over 10,000 police and security personnel for his security.

A huge amount of Obamania has built up among all Kenyans and Indians are also a part of this phenomenon. This is a family visit as President Obama will meet his extended family members but it not certain if he will travel to his ancestral village near Kisumu in Western Kenya. Although a village witchdoctor has predicted that he will come, security concerns may rule out this trip.

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Full Independence with Total Dependence

The Full Moon of the Master or Guru Purnima comes on 30 July this year when all disciples go to their spiritual masters for blessings. If this is not possible in real time, they sit in devotion and meditation to be one with their masters in complete surrender. Does it mean that they have totally lost their independence?


The word ‘independence’ contains the word ‘dependence’. This is what Osho said to a seeker who wanted to become his disciple but did not want to surrender to him by wearing Osho’s mala or a string of prayer beads with a locket of his photo. By becoming totally dependent on the guru, you will become fully independent, said Osho during a ‘darshan’ one-to-one meeting in Pune.

The guru does not teach you, but he transforms you. You do not choose him; he chooses you. You are unaware in your sleep, cozy and comfortable, dreaming of beautiful peoples and places. The guru is awakened and he knows, like your parents, that you need to wake up to get on with your ultimate aim in life: to find out ‘Who am I?’ So while asleep, you protest at being shaken up to wake up. After coming in the guru’s magnetic field, you realise that you are asleep and want to wake up. Then you have to surrender to him to take over and transform you. On surrendering, you are re-born.

This surrender is out of love, gratitude and devotion. It says, “I do not know the long and rough path ahead, please take over and guide me.” Just like we consult a professional doctor, architect, lawyer or an engineer for our problems and follow their advice, we give in to the guru to chaperon us in the dark, unknown and overwhelming space we face when we first go inside ourselves. When we do it by ourselves, we mostly get sacred and rush away and opt out to go back to our sleep. If we have surrendered to the master, he shows us the techniques, guides us and encourages us to carry on. He also pulls up when we do not measure up. Some can’t take this beating with the so-called Zen stick and run away. But if you come to know that this is a blessing from the master for your own progress, you stay on.

No wonder it is called the MAD GAME. ‘M’ for Master, ‘A’ for And, and ‘D’ for Disciple. Once you start playing this Mad Game, it gets tougher all the time as it has no rules! It only ends when the disciple has vaporized and the master has set him free as if the disciples passed through the gate called guru.

Osho says, “No surrender can be conditional; there can be no condition with the guru. You cannot say, ‘If you do this then I will surrender.’ Then it will not be surrender. There is no ‘if’ — you surrender totally. You say, ‘Do whatsoever you like. I am in your hands. Ask me to jump into a well, and I will jump!’ This very decision to surrender totally is transforming and crystallizing. The attitude of the disciple is always one of total surrender.”

That’s how by totally depending on the guru, you become totally independent.

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi


  • Published in print edition on 24 July 2015

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