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Makhan Singh Kenya Trade Unionist

By Makhan Singh Study Group 21 July 2014

Born: Gurjanwala, near Lahore (then Colonial India) 27 December 1913 – Died Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi 16 May 1973 (Other sources state he died on 18 May 1973)

One of the founders of trade unionism in Kenya. Freedom fighter for Kenya‘s independence from colonial rule. One of the longest serving pre-independence detainee. Staunch communist and Marxist.

Believed in socialist ideals.

Makhan Singh Centennial Celebrations

27 December 2013 marked 100 years since Makhan Singh was born and forty years since he died.  Makhan Singh is seen as one of Kenya’s forgotten heroes and his legacy continues to this day. Kenya is not a Marxist or socialist state. In fact one could say it is the opposite, “… a man eat man society” (A Tanzanian description of Kenyans by the Tanzanian Government controlled Media).  What young  Kenyans are discovering is  Makhan Singh’s passion for social justice and democracy in Kenya which is touching people beyond his own idealology and race. Many describe Makhan Singh as the Father of the Trade Union Movement in Kenya. Fred Olouch wrote a moving tribute in the Daily Nation, Nairobi entitled ‘Makhan Singh: The Nelson Mandela of Kenya’  July 8, 2013


There are plays, readings and events marking the birth and life of Makhan Singh celebrated throughout the world taking place in 2014.

Recommended viewing is Hilary Ng’weno ‘s Makers of a Nation video on Makhan Singh available via Kenya Histories and Biographies Co. Ltd and leading retailers in Nairobi.

Zarina Patel’s book – Unquiet: The life and Times of Mahkan Singh available on Amazon and other retailers.

Study Group Questions:

Where (Hospital) and when did Makhan Singh Die?

Why did the then Colonial Government see Makhan Singh as a great threat? If not one of the greatest threat in Colonial Kenya.

Why did Jomo kenyatta’s post independent Kenya Government ignore Makhan Singh and his contributions in challenging and changing the rights of workers in Kenya?

Did Makhan Singh have any links with Tanzania which was (and still is?) a socialist oriented state?

Why and when  did Tanzania call Kenya a ” … a man eat man society.”

Useful Resources and Reference:

Ng’weno Hilary (2007) ‘Makhan Singh: Makers of a Nation,’ Nairobi, Kenya Histories & Biographies

Kenya Histories & Biographies

P.O. Box 10519 – 00100Nairobi, Kenya Wabera Street Prudential Assurance Building,5th Flr. Wing B –

Email: info(at)

Zarina Patel – African Books Collective, where you can find more information on books published by Zarina Patel. – Fred Olouch ‘Makhan Singh: The Nelson Mandela of Kenya.’ courtesy of Daily Nation, July, 8 2013


Kenya Marks Promulgation Of New Constitution 27 August 2010

Kenyans mark the promulgation of their new constitution 27 August 2010. A national holiday has been declared and the key event will be a military march past in Uhuru Park Nairobi,Kenya. Read more: Kenya Marks Promulgation Of New Constitution 27 August 2010

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