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.
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.
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.
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.
"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)
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.
Wonder if these alleged journalists would mind reading history?
A reading of history would reveal that Indian society is highly prejudiced against individuals of African descent.
By jove! the entire social structure is based on the Colour based Caste System!. Where do you believe the poor black Siddis figure in this 'divinely decreed' Apartheid of India?
1. The Siddis are the Africans of India. Only 20-30 thousand of them are known to exist at this time.
2. The vast majority are descendants of African slaves who were sold by Arab Muslim slave traders to Hindu Indian princes. Some traveled of their own accord in search of food and opportunity.
3. While some fought as soldiers and came to prominence in the 16th century, the vast majority were fully marginalized during the reign of the Moghal Emperor of India, Akbar. They have remained on the fringes of society ever since courtesy the Bigotry ingrained in India by the Varna (colour) based Case System of India.
4. While a few Siddis are know for their sporting exploits, the vast majority barely manage exist on the outer fringes on Indian society.
i was watching discorvery some times ago and they were talking about tribe on a little island in the indian ocean south of Sri lanka
and the people they are really black african people. the discovery people were saying that it is still a mistery on how they landed on this island so far away from Africa. the tribe is called : The loved tribe, because they are always hugging and kissing each other....