Winston Churchill would frown at Sunak's Kenyan roots

Early days: Construction of the original line began in Mombasa 1895 and the railway reached Nairobi in 1899. [File, Standard]

If former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were to rise from the dead and walk into 10 Downing Street today, he would have a fit. He would be jolted to be received by Rishi Sunak.

During his reign, the British Empire was so vast that the sun never set. Back then, 24 per cent of the world's population bowed to the Union Jack as subjects of His Majesty the King. It was an Indian-born Kenyan AM Jeevanjee who prophesied what has happened at 10 Downing Street.

Jevanjee perceived India as the jewel of the crown of the British Empire saying, "We are proud of being citizens of an empire over which the sun never sets. We are conscious of the innumerable things British rule has conferred on India."

The colonial authorities were however unimpressed by Jeevanjee's antics to liberate Indians in Kenya from racial segregation, they bankrupted him.

Churchill epitomised this chauvinism, dismissing Indians' quest for just treatment in Kenya and India. He derisively described Mahtama Gandhi as the nationalist whose quest for freedom would snatch the jewel from the British Empire's crown in 1947.

He further described Gandhi as a malignant subversive fanatic and seditious middle temple lawyer, striding half-naked stepping up the steps of viceregal palace.

Ironically, it was during Churchill's reign that Ram Duss migrated to Kenya from India in search of greener pastures only to find a colony where his country compatriots were unwelcome in whites-only hotels and settlements -the white highlands.

Nevertheless, Duss brought his wife in 1937 to Kenya after securing a job as a clerk and ultimately raising a family. Among his six children was Sunak's father, Yashvir, who would in 1966 travel to Britain to study medicine.

Like his father, Sunak's Tanzanian-born mother Usha had been a victim of Africanisation. This was a policy adopted by newly independent African states to integrate indigenous people into government at the expense of the expatriates, many of who had to sell their businesses and relocate.

The policies that disenfranchised Africans in Kenya during colonialism later turned Asians into refugees. Since they did not fit in the new states, the majority left and were grudgingly granted British citizenship. History has caught up with 10 Downing Street where the grandson of a colonial clerk is symbolically wearing the crown of the once mighty empire.

At Churchill's desk now sits Sunak, a man whose ancestors the former prime minister once described as uncouth natives.

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