Sikh unionist who fought for freedom in India and Kenya

Compiled by: Our Bureau

(Our Bureau, May 17) Meet Makhan Singh, the bespectacled Sikh union leader who fought for the independence of two countries — India and Kenya. A brilliant student, Singh migrated at the age of 14 to Kenya from Punjab with his father who worked for the railways.  In 1950, he became the first to call for complete independence — in Kiswahili language — for all East Africa colonies from the British. He was soon arrested and placed in detention for 11 years. Singh’s greatest achievement: Managing to unify the African and Indian population towards the common cause of independence. Between 1939 and 1947, Singh lived in Mumbai and Ahmedabad where he busied himself in anti-colonial activities (addressing mass meetings of strikers, attending Indian National Congress) towards India’s freedom and also faced prison time.  In all Singh, spent 16 years in prison across two countries. He died of a heart attack in Nairobi at the age of 59.


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