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From Kings Cross to Kew: Following the History of Zambia's Indian Community through British Imperial Archives

  • Joan M. Haig (a1)

In the summer months of 2005 I traveled to London for the purpose of carrying out archival research in the Oriental and India Office Collection (OIOC) of the British Library at Kings Cross. My aim was to document the history of Indian immigration to the former British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia), about which very little has been published. The OIOC contains a vast amount of material relating to Asia and Africa—reportedly some 14 kilometers of shelving—including the India Office Records (IOR) and its key manuscripts detailing Indians' migration to British Central Africa.

Indians' arrival into Northern Rhodesian territory can be traced in these archives to 1905, and I was interested in the period from then until the independence of the country in 1964. The information held in the IOR is partic ularly rich: because the India Office acted as an intermediary among the Colonial Office in London, the Governor's Office in Northern Rhodesia, and the Government of India in New Delhi, the records bring together and represent the concerns of all the official actors. However, when India achieved sovereignty in 1947 the doors of the India Office closed and matters relating to the Indian diaspora were transferred to the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Dominion and Colonial Offices, whose interests were empire-wide. These sets of files are presently held in the National Archives at Kew.

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History in Africa
  • ISSN: 0361-5413
  • EISSN: 1558-2744
  • URL: /core/journals/history-in-africa
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