Indian ancestors

This guide was last updated in 2012

Nitin Ganatra, who currently plays Masood Ahmed in EastEnders, learned more about the life of his Indian ancestors in his episode.

Nitin is a first generation Asian immigrant. He arrived in the UK with his parents in the 1970s and eventually settled in Coventry, where his family started a small business.

They arrived from Kenya along with thousands of other Kenyan Asians leaving during that time. This was due to the increasing tension between the Asian and African community in Kenya that happened after Kenyan independence in 1963.

Although Asians were never expelled from Kenya as they were from Uganda, the community started facing a degree of distrust from the African community as they were asked to renounce their British passports and acquire Kenyan citizenship. As many refused to do so, it led to increasing tension.

Nitin’s family was originally from Gujarat in India. Many Indians arrived in East Africa during the late 19th century and 20th century to help build the Ugandan Railways. They were recruited from British India as indentured labourers and many chose to stay in Africa after the completion of the railways and made Africa their new home.

Nitin followed the journey of his ancestors all the way from Kenya to his ancestral home in the Gujarati village of Jarera, where his great grandfather Popotlal lived before leaving for Kenya in the 1890s.

The British Asian community is one of the largest migrant communities currently living in the UK and if you are also of that heritage you may be able to trace your ancestors through extant records in the UK and also in the Indian subcontinent.

Photo © Getty Images


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