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Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav- profile of Makhan Singh

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (Ministry of I&B)

January 27, 2022

We remember the freedom fighter, Makhan Singh who helped overthrow the British empire by joining nationalist movements in two countries, India, the land of his birth, and Kenya, his adopted homeland. He was born on 27th December 1913 in Gujranwala District of erstwhile Punjab. At the age of 13, he moved with his family to Nairobi, Kenya. Makhan Singh transcended the boundaries and made a common cause with the African population of Kenya to take on the British. Kenya was also a center of the Ghadar Party and Makhan Singh, Gopal Singh Chandan and Wasdev Singh were its chief organizers. In December 1939, Makhan Singh left for India to “study working-class conditions and functioning of the Trade Unionism in Bombay and Ahmedabad.” In India, he addressed gatherings in Bombay and attended the Ramgarh session of the Indian National Congress as an African delegate. Singh was arrested by the British, and moved from one prison to another for the next two years, without being charged. On his release, Singh’s movement was restricted to his native village in Gujranwala for two and a half years. Finally, in January 1945, he was set free, after which he started working with the newspaper Jang-i-Azadi. As India was going to achieve independence on 15 August 1947, Singh left for Kenya In Kenya, Singh organized the Kenya Youth Conference and became active as the general secretary of the East African Trade Union Congress. Singh was detained by the colonial government in 1950. He remained behind the bars during the famous Mau Mau Uprising of Kenya. He remained in prison for 12 years till 1961. Kenya attained independence in 1963, and Singh was granted permanent residency in the country. Makhan Singh remained committed to challenging the politics of indifference and segregation till the very end and had secured his place among great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela, through his transnational struggle.

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