DELHI India -- The African Safari
of Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi was noticeable
different in his interaction with the Indian Diaspora,
writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.
whirlwind visit to the four countries of Mozambique, South
Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, PM Modi veered away from his
normal discourse to the Diaspora.
These addresses start with praising the success and
contribution of the Indian community abroad and highlighting
their links with India.
He goes on to acquaint them with the progress the country
has made and invites them to visit, invest and contribute to
He announces any new perks for the Indian diaspora.
Normally, he ends on a high note by leading them in
hailing ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai!'.
Not in Africa.
No perks for overseas Indians because these have been
No invitation to invest in India.
No hailing India to indicate the local Indians to be
loyal to their adopted lands.
His first stop in Mozambique was basically mostly on
bilateral ties in trade, investment and technical
In South Africa, his visit was dominated by Mahatma
He donned a typical printed shirt favoured by Nelson
Mandela for his address to the Indians of South Africa.
This elicited great ovation from the huge gathering and
his photo was widely published.
He paid well deserved tribute to Mandela and placed him
on the same pedestal as Mahatma Gandhi.
Fresh from visiting the cell of Mandela in Robben Island
prison, he was deeply touched and met five Indians who were
also jailed with Mandela in the same prison.
Recalling their names, he said Indians had sacrificed for
freedom and Mohandas Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi in South
On his journey to Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, Modi
relived the incident in 1893 when 24-year old lawyer
Mohandas Gandhi with a valid ticket was forcibly ejected
from the first class carriage in the middle of the cold
winter night, his luggage hastily thrown after him.
After reaching this platform, Modi paid tribute to Gandhi
and inaugurated an exhibition in the waiting room where the
father of the Indian nations spent the cold night.
This ordeal inspired him for his non-violent struggle
against racism and freedom.
Later, Modi visited the ‘ashram’ or commune established
Brisk drumming with the Tanzanian President John Magufuli
in the brief stopover in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es
Salaam became the top photo op for both leaders.
Matching the African leader beat by beat, Modi even
intruded on Magufuli’s drum for climax.
Of course, bilateral agreements were signed but the tour
of an exhibition of Barefoot College and Solar Mammas of
Africa was the highlight.
Thirty rural women solar engineers from six African
countries have been trained for harnessing solar energy at
Barefoot College in Rajasthan’s Tilonia village or the
centre in Tanzania.
He interacted with each woman trained to fabricate,
install, use, repair and maintain solar lanterns and
household solar lighting in their villages.
Presented with his trademark Modi jacket, he smiled as
the fabric had a very bold Afro print!
Soon after landing at the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he
proceeded to Kasarani Stadium where over 20,000 Kenya
Indians awaited him.
In a surprise move, he was introduced by no less than the
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
What wowed the crowd were the hefty repeated hugs both
leaders indulged in before Kenyatta left the stage to him.
Paying hearty tribute to the pioneers who came to Kenya
over a century and some stayed on, Modi said many fourth
generation Indians had not visited India and yet remained in
Kenya had 42 tribes and the 43rd was Indians, he said to
loud cheers in a clear hint of the integration of Indians
with African society.
After the bilateral business was over, he visited the
Nairobi University where he delivered perhaps his most
well-crafted speech hailing outstanding Kenyan women like
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai and Oscar winning actress
Lupika Nyong’o, much to the applause of the listeners.
He mentioned the Mahatma Gandhi link with this university
and paid homage at the life size statute on the campus.
Quoting a Sanskrit proverb on the utility of knowledge,
he charmed everyone by quoting a similar proverb in Swahili!
At the state luncheon, President Kenyatta praised the
contribution of the Indian community in choicest praise like
of which has never been made by any Kenyan leaders so far.