ABSTRACT

In 1908, Winston Churchill, then the undersecretary of state for the colonies, visited East Africa. During his tour of the region, he praised the role of Sikh soldiers within Britain’s imperial army, complimenting their “honourable part in the conquest and pacification of these East African countries”.2 Though India has long had direct ties to Africa, prior to their deployment as part of the British Royal Army, there had never been an instance of Indian military personnel fighting anywhere on the African continent.3 This changed during the second half of the nineteenth century when Indian soldiers were frequently stationed throughout the Indian Ocean rim – from Burma and Malaya in the east to Kenya and Sudan in Africa – to quell nativist challenges to the empire’s dominion claims.4