Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, Monday for the final lap of his four-nation, five-day tour of Africa.
Modi, who had previously visited Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania, was received in a ceremonial welcome that included members of the Kenyan Indian community at the Kasarani Stadium in Kenya’s capital.
Afterward, he laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya and the Father of Kenya’s current President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Prime Minister Modi and his Kenyan host later addressed a joint press briefing, where Modi announced plans to build a cancer hospital in Kenya. The plans also include the supply of medical equipment and medicines to hospitals across Kenya.
Modi began his tour of Africa last Thursday with a visit to Mozambique, where he met with President Felipe Nyusi. Both leaders promised to deepen cooperation between the two countries, with Modi saying, “We want cooperation and economic development to benefit the people. We want safety and security of our people.”
In Mozambique, Modi pledged India’s cooperation in areas, such as health, agriculture, energy, skill transfer, security, and defense. Thereafter, Prime Minister Modi and his Mozambican counterpart signed a trade deal that would see Mozambique export 100,000 tonnes of pulses to India within the next year and increase that amount to 200,000 tonnes within the next four years to meet India’s shortfall in the production of pulses, which are consumed as a staple.
Prime Minister Modi then traveled to neighbouring South Africa, visiting Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria, and Pietermaritzburg. In Pietermaritzburg, Modi relived an important train journey from the early 20th century when a young Mahatma Ghandi was kicked off of a train for refusing to vacate the first-class coach for a third-class compartment.
That singular incident is believed to have shaped Ghandi’s philosophy of fighting racial discrimination with peaceful engagement or Satyagraha.
The African continent is resource rich, and the Indian Prime Minister also held extensive talks with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma to seek closer ties and cooperate in trade, manufacturing, and defense production.
“India and South Africa are strategic partners. We should build a partnership that spans the entirety of human endeavour,” Modi said.
South Africa has a significant Indian population and more than 10,000 of them came out to welcome Prime Minister Modi at a cultural extravaganza that was held at the Coca-Cola dome on Friday.
Relations between the Indian community and their South African hosts have not always been smooth due to repeated accounts of racial tensions between the two: The Indians of South Africa— who are seen by many as exploitative — are sandwiched delicately between the economically dominant Whites and the often impoverished Black African majority.
However, racial relations between Indians and Africans are seemingly much worse on the Indian subcontinent. The Black African population in India, many of them university students, repeatedly complain of being discriminated against by their host communities and have even been attacked by xenophobic mobs while the authorities sometimes appear complicit or reluctant to take appropriate action.
Prime Minister Modi then departed Nairobi for Tanzania for his very first meeting with President John Magufuli who was sworn in as president only last year and has embarked on a far reaching anti-corruption crusade.
Speaking at a banquet in his honor, Modi described Tanzania as one of the most important economies in Africa. “In recent years our ties of commerce, links of trade and investment, and development and cooperation have flourished,” he said. Modi then offered the government of Tanzania $500 million of concessional credit for a water supply to 17 different cities in addition to an already existing sum of $100 million.
Modi finally met with the Solar Mamas, a group of rural women who have received technical training, which is sponsored by the Indian government, to teach them how to fabricate, install, use, repair, and maintain solar-powered lightening systems in their villages.