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In a Restless State: Mercantile Adventure and Citizenship in the Autobiography of Nanji Kalidas Mehta (1888––1969)

Dan Ojwang
Africa Today
Vol. 57, No. 3, Special Issue: Eastern African Literatures and Cultures (Spring 2011), pp. 57-75
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/africatoday.57.3.57
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/africatoday.57.3.57
Page Count: 20
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In a Restless State: Mercantile Adventure and Citizenship in the Autobiography of Nanji Kalidas Mehta (1888––1969)
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Abstract

In his autobiography, Dream Half-Expressed, Nanji Kalidas Mehta, the pioneer Indian agricultural industrialist in East Africa, sought to project himself as a restless person, infected with an inquisitiveness that in the end made him knowledgeable, tolerant, wealthy, and part of a world much larger than the one he knew when he first ventured from Gujarat to East Africa in 1900. This article seeks to show how his travels, especially in East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, came to shape his senses of belonging and his hopes for India and its possible futures, especially in regard to the vexed questions of culture and community. It ends with a brief reflection on how the study of itinerant lives might yield insights into Indian and African pasts.

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