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Thread: India's African Communities

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    Alliouagana Garveyite soca_souljah's Avatar soca_souljah is offline
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    Thumbs up India's African Communities

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/h...ies/html/1.stm


    Who are the Siddis of India ?


    The original people of India are the Negrito tribes-people who are found in the hills and interiors of India. They are, in effect, the Aborigines of the Indian subcontinent.

    All others, including the Dravidians, Aryans, Huns, Greeks, Moghals, Arabs, British, Portuguese, French and the Siddis (Sidis) immigrated to the Indian subcontinent.



    The Siddis are not part of the original Negritos of India. They are descendants of Africans from North-East and East Africa who were brought to India as slaves, soldiers or servants. These Siddis were mostly transported by boats.

    Long before the first slave ships started supplying labour to the cotton plantations of the American-south, and many centuries before the first Africans were brought ashore to the sugar estates of Brazil and the Caribbean, Africans were being sold as slaves, by the Muslim Arab traders from the Eastern seaboard of Africa to Hindu Indian princes on the West Coast and Central India. A significant portion of this African Siddi slave trade took place centuries before the Portuguese, British, French and Dutch colonised parts of Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

    Some of the Siddis (Sheedis) migrated via land; in the opposite direction of the Spice trail and settled in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gujarat.

    It then appears that there were five sets of Siddi transfers or migrations from East Africa to India.

    1. As slaves sold by Muslim Arab tradesmen to Hindu South Indian princes

    2. As slave/soldiers sold by Muslim Arab tradesmen to Hindu Central, Western and Eastern Indian princes (habshis)

    3. As slaves sold by Muslim Arab tradesmen to Catholic Portuguese sea farers who then transported them to Goa (siddis) and other Portuguese possessions on the west Coast of India, and to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) (kaffirs)

    4. Those who migrated and settled in areas along the NW Frontier of the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan) (sheedes)

    5. Those who settled further south of the NW frontier in the Indian State of Gujarat (siddis)

    "The Siddis are descendants of African slaves, sailors and servants, and merchants who remained in India after arriving through the sea trade with East Africa and the Gulf," says Amy Catlin, an ethno-musicologist from the University of California, who is making a special study of Siddi culture. "That was a process which began in the 12th century or before, and lasted until the late 19th century".

    Although most of the Siddis were brought as slaves and slave soldiers, some were so successful as fighters that they managed to usurp power from the rulers they were supposed to be serving.
    Their descendants are the least visible part of the huge African diaspora. But today in India, almost lost among the mosaic of different cultures and communities in that country, are tens of thousands of people of African descent [nigeriamasterweb] . Having lost with their roots, most of them are now struggling at the margins of Indian society.

    Most Siddis -- estimated to number between 20,000 and 30,000 in a nation of over a billion people -- live in the western Indian State of Gujarat. Smaller populations are found in neighboring Maharashtra and two southern states, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

    The village of Jambur, Gujarat, deep in the Gir forest, is the site for one of two exclusively Siddi settlements. It is miserably poor. The headman explains that yes, everyone in Jambur is a Siddi. They speak the same Gujarati language and eat the same flavorful food as other villagers, but nevertheless stand out from their neighbors.

    The Siddis of Karnataka speak Konkani, the official language of Goa - indicating their Goan ( and hence Portuguese) connection.

    Their forebears came from Africa. But they have lost any knowledge of African languages, and don't know where exactly their ancestors came from or why they settled in India. The only remnant they retain of their African lineage is their music and dance. "In Gujarat, affinities with African music include certain musical instruments and their names" adds Professor Catlin.

    Up the coast and across the border in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, a similarly distinct group called Sheedis live jammed together down a narrow lane behind a blue metal gate. They stage spirited donkey cart races on weekends. Pakistan's Sheedis originally settled in desert areas of Baluchistan, where they were brought centuries ago by Arab traders and primarily speak Baluchi, the language of a neighbouring coastal province. Some Sheedis still live there, in the Makran region, and a similar group lives in the southern part of neighboring Iran.

    Off the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent in Sri Lanka, a group known as kaffirs live simply in thatch-roofed houses set among palm trees on the western coast, integrated with other Sri Lankans but noticeably different.

    The Siddis, Sheedis and kaffirs don't know about each other, and only a few of their educated countrymen know who they are or where they came from. But even in a part of the world where most people have dark skin, these South Asian Africans stand out.

    The Siddis, Sheedis and Kaffirs are among the lost tribes of Africa.

    In addition to physical features -- some Sri Lankan kaffirs wear braids or Afro hairstyles and have retained remnants of their African heritage in dance, music & speech. In Sri Lanka, the several hundred kaffirs live among the palm trees around Puttalam on the northwest coast and near the eastern city of Batticaloa. Most of them are Catholics; "kaffir" is an Arabic word that denotes someone who is not a Muslim. These Kaffirs perform African songs in a creolized Portuguese.

    Portuguese seafarers carried the first kaffirs to what was then Ceylon in the 1500s, most likely from Mozambique. Later, British colonists brought others to fight against Ceylonese armies in "kaffir regiments."

    "They have their own culture. They are recognized as Africans," said Vijay Gupta, a retired professor of African studies, referring to the Siddis. [ Within South Asia - a touch of Africa : Kenneth J. Cooper, Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, April 12, 1999; Page A16 ]

    A number of Africans (Ethiopians aka Abyssinians aka Habshis) who were enslaved and taken to India in medieval and post-medieval times eventually rose to positions of power and influence in the 16th century e.g. Shams ud-Dawlah Muhammad al-Habshi, Bilal Habshi, Said Safar Salami and Shaik Said al-Habshi Sultani (perhaps best remembered as the builder of a famous mosque, known by his name, in Ahmedabad)

    Numerous Habshis were meanwhile employed as sailors in Indian waters. The Dutchman Linschoten recalls that besides Arabs there were also "Abexiins" serving as sailors around India, where they were replacing the Portuguese, who considered such work incompatible with their prestige.

    "These Abexiins and Arabians, such as are free", he declares, "do serve in all India for Saylers and sea faring men, with such merchants as sail from Goa to China, Japan, Bengala, Mallaca, Ormus, and all the Oriental coast... These Abexiins and Arabians serve for small money, and being hired are very lowly (and subject), so that often times they are (beaten and) smitten, not as slaves, but like dogs, which they bear very patiently, not (once) speaking a word" (Addis Tribune).

    Here are some of the Indian attitudes towards the Siddis:

    1) Many did not know they even existed,

    2) those who had heard something of them connected them to various government schemes to recruit Siddis for national and international sports competitions since “they are natural athletes” having lived in the forests of Gujarat and Karnataka and “had natural talent at running and jumping” since they are “nature” people

    3) others who had seen or had interactions with Siddis had the opinion that they could not be trusted - Kiran Prasad (1984:33) records the common saying Siddi ka bara buddhi, meaning “a Siddi cannot be trusted or relied upon because he changes his mind with every suggestion coming from different people”

    4) Many higher caste Indians of lighter “fair” complexion see them as inferior and on a level with the lowest castes and Dalits (untouchables)

    5) they are considered “lazy and carefree” in that they are “not bothered to work if they have some cash in hand” and “they do not worry about their future” (Prasad 1984:34). In the Rajkot district of Gujarat, they are called “Siddi Badshah, to indicate their simple carefree disposition” (Prasad 1984:73)

    6) others in Gujarat consider them “low, filthy, and quarrelsome” (cf. Siddis of Gujarat: 35).

    In sum, the racist, casteist, and religious prejudices of some Indians have worked to denigrate, marginalize, and victimize the Siddis.

    In response to such attitudes and actions, Siddis have taken various actions to avoid, counter or confront them.

    One of the most obvious is their effort to distance themselves from the larger society by establishing independent communities in the most remote areas - first in order to escape re-capture, and then to establish their own cultural systems as much as possible. This may have been possible to do in the early periods (16th-18th centuries), but by the 19th and 20th centuries, this has become increasingly difficult due to population pressures and government policies and programs concerning the forests that have been their refuge.

    A special ultra-jaundiced but highly convenient attitude among some Goan "journalists": The problems of the Siddis are exclusively, utterly and absolutely as a result of Portuguese prejudice.



    http://www.colaco.net/1/siddhi0.htm
    Last edited by soca_souljah; 09-30-2006 at 02:07 PM.
    Agitate until we create a stable society that benefits all our people.
    Instigate the nation until we remedy the injustices of society.
    Motivate our people to set a meaningful path for coming generations.
    Educate our people to free our minds and develop our consciousness

    Mwongozi Cudjoe (Chedmond Browne)
    Chairman of Free Montserrat United Movement

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    Registered User small_island_descent's Avatar small_island_descent is offline
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    NICE.

    I gotta read up more on this.

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    Alliouagana Garveyite soca_souljah's Avatar soca_souljah is offline
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    http://www.the-south-asian.com/Sept2...n_Diaspora.htm


    The term Indo-Africans refers to Indians of African origin and was coined by Professor Abdulaziz Lodhi of Uppsala University, Sweden. I am grateful to him for his help in writing in this article.

    Little is known about Africans who moved from the African continent to the Indian subcontinent, some as slaves, but others purposefully and freely. A study of this Indo-African population offers a realistic portrayal of Africans as traders, warriors, and sailors.

    According to Dr. Richard Pankhurst, commercial contacts between Ethiopia and India are mentioned in the Periplus – a Graeco-Egyptian commercial manual written around the first century AD. This manual mentions that the Aksumite port of Adulis, on the Red Sea coast of Africa, "traded extensively with various parts of Western India, which supplied Ethiopia with both textiles and spices." Later texts mention trade with Ceylon as well. Habshis were present in Colombo, in Ceylon, where Ibn Battuta reports that Jalasti, "the wazir and ruler of the sea", had "about five hundred Abyssinians".

    More than 250,000 descendants of Africans still live amongst the Indian people. They are a vast and diverse population spread throughout India with separate histories and unique roles within the Indian strata. Although Africans have been crossing the Indian Ocean into India for over a millennium, most of those who make up the Indo-African population came in the past five hundred years. Most were mercenaries or prisoners of war of the Muslim rulers. Africans also came as midwives and herbalists, and as musicians, sailors and merchants.

    In the second decade of the sixteenth century a European traveller named Armando Cortesao noted that: "The people who govern the kingdom [Bengal] are Abyssinians [Ethiopians]. These men are looked upon as knights; they are greatly esteemed; they wait on the kings in their apartments."

    Indo-Africans trace their ancestry primarily from the East African coast from Sudan, Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) to Mozambique, but some came from as far off as South Africa and even Nigeria. Little research has been done on this unique population, but slowly literature on this small group is growing. Many of the Indo-Africans who arrived from eastern Africa came as sailors and traders engaged in the vibrant Indian ocean trade and stayed on in India, usually around the main ports, from Kerala in the south to Gujarat in the north. The monsoon winds that blew across the Indian ocean powered an extensive trade system that shipped spices from Kerala through Northeast Africa and on to Rome and other parts of the European continent since before the time of Christ. Ivory, gold and other valuables from Zimbabwe and the Congo found their way to the East African coast to areas such as Kilwa, Mombassa and Zanzibar from where they were further shipped across the Indian Ocean and on to India, Southeast Asia, China and even Japan.

    Perhaps the most interesting example of Indo-Africans in Indian history was the establishment of the Habshi State in Bengal during the 15th century. As the story goes, the ruler of the state was killed in a palace coup d'etat led by an Indo-African general serving in the king's army, who went on to proclaim himself king. He was subsequently killed by another high-ranking Indo-African general who remained loyal to the original ruling family and placed the young son of the murdered king upon the throne.

    Another group of Indo-Africans, known as the Shemali, originated in Kano, Nigeria, and came to India via Sudan and Mecca following their Hajj pilgrimage. Under the leadership of a wealthy merchant known as Baba Ghor, the Shemali became prosperous through the mining and trade of the precious stone Agate. This group of Indo-Africans retains quite a few African customs, and Baba Ghor and the story of their arrival in India is proudly remembered.

    It is difficult to speak of the Indo-Africans as a singular group as they came from vastly different parts of Africa and through many periods of history. Nonetheless, most of the groups have largely assimilated into Indian society. The majority of Indo-Africans are Muslims, but other similarities are hard to find. Different communities speak different languages and culturally most consider themselves Indian save for a few African cultural remnants. [B]Some Indo-Africans, descended from powerful soldiers, administrators, and even rulers, are indistinguishable from the general population, for their ancestors were considered higher class and married freely amongst the elite Indian population.[/B] This group of Indo-Africans are sometimes known as the Royal Sidis, and they only marry amongst themselves or with upper class/caste native Muslims.
    Agitate until we create a stable society that benefits all our people.
    Instigate the nation until we remedy the injustices of society.
    Motivate our people to set a meaningful path for coming generations.
    Educate our people to free our minds and develop our consciousness

    Mwongozi Cudjoe (Chedmond Browne)
    Chairman of Free Montserrat United Movement

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    The Key Light360's Avatar Light360 is offline
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    Salsero de pura cepa Otorongo's Avatar Otorongo is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Sanity View Post
    They are not any more African than any other people of the region. They are descended from some of the first migrations out of Africa.

    The Sidi are of a lot more recent African migration. The Roma, some of my ancestors, have been genetically shown to be related to the Sidi and Dravidians.

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    mi nuh cater to bad-mind Bandele's Avatar Bandele is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otorongo View Post
    They are not any more African than any other people of the region. They are descended from some of the first migrations out of Africa.

    The Sidi are of a lot more recent African migration.


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    Salsero de pura cepa Otorongo's Avatar Otorongo is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandele View Post
    You had a point?

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    Salsero de pura cepa Otorongo's Avatar Otorongo is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by soca_souljah View Post
    The original people of India are the Negrito tribes-people who are found in the hills and interiors of India. They are, in effect, the Aborigines of the Indian subcontinent.
    The only ones truly considered "negrito" are on the Andaman Islands. Th Veddas on the mainland are beleived to be related but aren't considered "negrito", but closer to melanesians like Australians.
    Many of the original Adivasi
    Vedda

    Kannikar

    Irular

    Yanadi

    Chenchu

    Oraon

    Gond

    Birhor

    Santal

    Naga


    You see similar populations of either Negrito or Melanesians across Asia.

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    Salsero de pura cepa Otorongo's Avatar Otorongo is offline
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    Here is an Adivasi girl

    An Andamanese girl

    And a Siddi Girl


    Pure cuteness.
    Last edited by Otorongo; 10-21-2006 at 10:21 PM.

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