Asians who have helped shape Kenya’s history

CaptureThey form one of the smallest tribes in Kenya, and their forefathers were instrumental in laying the foundation of modern Kenya and passed the torch to sons and daughters whose work impacts on the lives of millions of citizens.

This week, Asian Arena celebrates some of renowned faces in the Asian community.

Alisha Popat

alishatA mysterious beauty with talent rested on a powerful voice. Alisha is an upcoming star who has made a name for herself– musically speaking.

She is the first Kenyan artiste to share the stage with Zolani Mahola from South Africa and Peter Hollens from US.

She recently featured American violinist, Lindsey Stirling in remaking Rihanna’s We Found Love.

This video holds the record for the most You Tube views for a Kenyan video.

She has emerged in the Asian community with a unique music talent, which sets her apart from the stereotypical views of Asians and their natural intrigue to business.

Manu Chandaria

ManuChandariaManilal Premchand Chandaria has touched the hearts of many Kenyans.

He is the chairman of Comcraft Group, an industrial conglomerate, which was estimated to be worth US$2.5bn by Forbes magazine in 2011.

He is renowned for his philanthropic nature and is the brain behind the Chandaria School of Business at USIU and the Chandaria Business incubation centre at Kenyatta University.

Trustee of the Boston based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) which supports conservation efforts in East Africa; Chandaria was awarded the Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS) by former president Mwai Kibaki.

pitogammaPio Gama Pinto

A freedom fighter and a firm campaigner for social justice, Pinto was a socialist leader who devoted his life to the liberty of Kenya.

He initially began his political activism in India where he tried to liberate Goa from colonial rule; as a result, he fled to Kenya to avoid getting captured.

Pinto was gunned down by unknown gunmen in 1968, beginning the cycle of political associations that has dogged Kenya since independence.

Kalpana Rawal

kalpana rawalFamously known for leading the judicial inquiry on the plane crash that killed George Saitoti, Kalpana Rawal is a distinguished lawyer, a judge of the Supreme Court and the new Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya.  She is hailed as the first Kenyan woman to open her own law practice in 1975.

Pinky Ghelani

Media personality, radio presenter, interior designer, magazine owner are some of the titles this former Miss India Kenya holds. Her chemistry on radio is stunning. She is easily one of the most recognisable Asians in Kenya.

Joginder Singh

jogindeerThe Flying Sikh remains Kenya’s most celebrated rally driver, ever. The legend, who passed on in October 2013, is synonymous with the East African Safari Rally, hailed as the world’s toughest rally in its heydays, and for bringing immeasurable pride to millions of Kenyans with his daredevil exploits.



Malkiat Singh

malkiat singhHe is a household name in Kenya, a one-man army renowned for publishing books for the 8-4-4 syllabuses.

So famous is Malkiat that he once told a journalist that gangsters spared him and engaged him in banter when they asked, “Who are you?” and he said, “Malkiat Singh”!

Naushad Merali

The Asian tycoon and business magnet was ranked number 48 in Forbes 2013 Africa’s 50 richest men.

Naushad Merali is the founder of Kencell with the French media giant Vivendi, which he later sold off.

It is alleged he rarely makes business mistakes. His contribution to the society earned him award of Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS).

Merali is chairman of Sameer Group.

Ali Punjani

punjaniKnown to be among the richest people in Kenya, Ali Punjani is a philanthropist with a street named after him in Mombasa City. Married to a Bollywood actress Kim Sharma, Punjani is one of the most popular Asians in Kenya.




Makhan Singh

malkhanThe famous Labour Union leader established the foundation of trade unionism in Kenya. A freedom fighter detained for 11 years, he championed for human rights. He achieved a lot more in his fight for independence of the country. He died in 1973 after having tasted the fresh breath of liberation, but bitter at being excluded by a government that he fought so hard to bring forth.



Sonia Birdi

birdiShe is the first Asian woman in Parliament. She represents not only Asians but women as well as the marginalised groups in our society.  She has a passion for children.





-The standard



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