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2402Re: The African Diaspora of the Indian Sub-Continent (Article)

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  • Danielle Sigwalt
    Jan 31, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      Wow! When I was 13 -- about 7 years ago
      -- I met a community of Sidis in India.
      My parents study the african diaspora, and they took
      me a long with them while they were doing research.
      It's actually really interested because where as they have
      been able to maintain a unique ethnic status seperate from
      those who live among them, they are culturally very
      Indian, from what I understand, and experienced.

      It's unlikely that they traveled there thousands of years
      ago, Lynne, simply because of the pre-existing migratory
      patterns of the Africans from the areas that they
      came from, in the case of the Sidis, at least.
      Also, had they been there for that long, it's unlikely
      that their communitis would still exist in a visible way.



      On 1/31/07, tlbaker <tlbaker@...> wrote:



      Is it also true that Africans migrated to India
      in the same way they migrated to Europe and other
      parts of the world several thousands of years ago?

       

      Lynne



       


      From: Generation-Mixed@yahoogroups.com
      On Behalf Of multiracialbookclub
      Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 10:35 PM
      To: Generation-Mixed@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: The African Diaspora of the Indian Sub-Continent (Article)

       

      The African Diaspora of

      the Indian Sub-Continent

      Zachariah Cherian Mampilly
      http://www.the-south-asian.com

       

      Sidi mother and child;
      Sidi fisherwomen

      The term Indo-Africans refers to Indians of African
      origin and was
      coined by Professor Abdulaziz
      Lodhi of Uppsala University, Sweden ...
       

      A study of this Indo-African population offers a realistic
      portrayal of Africans as traders, warriors, and sailors ...

      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 ...

      The present-day

      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 ...

      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.

      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.

      This group of Indo-Africans are
      sometimes known as the Royal Sidis ..

      Sidis

      There are identifiable Sidi communities in Gujarat,
      Maharashtra (around Bombay), and Hyderabad.

      Most of the Sidis live in Gujarat, a state in western India.
      Jambur, a village in the Gir forest is an exclusive Sidi settlement. 

      A smaller group of Sidis lives in
      Junagadh, a town not far from Jambur.

      Sidis also settled in Murud, once the capital of the
      erstwhile state of Janjira (from the Arabic `jazirah'
      meaning an island) on the western coast of Maharashtra.

      The Janjira Fort at Murad was "once the stronghold of
      Abyssinian Sidis, who played an important role in the
      history of Bombay in the latter half of the 17th century".

      Those Sidis who settled in Janjira
      prospered as warriors and great sailors.

      Their fort still stands today in Murud – a small fishing village
      – as does the Sidi Palace on the outskirts of the village.

      Though the interior of the palace is
      not open to tourists, the fort can be visited.

      "Once the fort
      boasted of five hundred canons, today only
      a handful are left, still
      intact and able to tell their story.

      Amongst them are the three major
      cannons, Kalal Bangdi,
      Landakasam and Bhavani, the cherished weapons
      of
      the Sidis, built from five metals."- Discover India

      "Siddi kingdoms were established in western
      India in Janjira and Jaffrabad as early as 1100 AD.

      After their conversion to Islam, the African freedmen of
      India, originally called Habshi from the Arabic, called
      themselves Sayyad and were consequently called Siddis.

      Indeed, the island Janjira was formerly called Habshan,
      meaning Habshan's or African's land. Siddi signifies lord or prince.

      It is further said that Siddi is an expression of respectful
      address commonly used in North Africa, like Sahib in India.

      Specifically, it is said to be an honorific title given to the descendants
      of African natives in the west of India, some of whom were distinguished
      military officers and administrators of the Muslim princes of the Deccan. …

      The Siddis were employed largely as security forces ...
      in the Indian Ocean, a position they maintained for centuries."
      - Tom Mountains Ambedkar Journal Website
      HABSHIS AND SIDDIS: AFRICAN DYNASTIES IN INDIA

      Scholars generally consider the Indo-Africans de
      facto Indians as
      they mostly speak Indian languages,
      although some groups do retain
      many African words.

      This process of assimilation was interrupted
      with the
      advent of British rule in India in the 19th century.

      The
      British segregated the Indo-Africans from the local
      population, thus impoverishing the process of assimilation.

      Today, except for the Royal Sidis and their
      descendants
      who are largely integrated,
      the Indo-African population
      remains largely farmers or
      unskilled workers, although
      some have also become professionals such
      as
      doctors, lawyers, teachers and businessmen.


      In Pakistan, which also has a small Indo-African
      population,
      Indo-Africans are substantially
      more visible as performers and
      athletes.

      The community, known as Makranis, is almost completely
      centred in the
      coastal city of Karachi and has achieved
      national status as athletes, especially as boxers,
      a field in which
      Indo-Africans have represented
      Pakistan in international
      competition.

      India has always welcomed immigrants from
      around the
      world, giving them acceptance
      and taking from them certain cultural
      attributes
      that have further enlarged the Indian mosaic.

      Afro-Indians, like all other groups that sought
      shelter in India, were
      given the freedom
      to assimilate without the pressure
      to lose their
      ancestral traditions.

      However one views Afro-Indians, their mere
      existence has much to tell
      us about Africa's
      place in the world community beyond
      just the dark
      days of slavery.

      Their history speaks of the African ability to
      integrate
      into a land other than that from where they
      originated.

      The African Diaspora in the Americas
      was an
      unwilling one,
      but the Indo-Africans came
      willingly to
      India , and regardless of their
      ups and downs in Indian history,
      they have chosen to stay there.

      Prominent Indo-Africans in history of India

      Jamal al-Din Yaqut -  a royal courtier in the kingdom
      of Delhi who was believed to be close to the then
      reigning sovereign Queen
      Raziya (1236- 1240).

      He was killed by jealous rivals.

      Ibn Battuta recalls that at Alapur, north of Delhi ,
      the governor was "the Abyssinian Badr...,
      a man
      whose bravery passed into a proverb".

      Malik Sarwar, described as a Habshi,
      was appointed 
      governor of Jaunpur. 

      Mubarak Shah, his son, later succeeded him.  

      Ibrahim Shah, succeeded his brother
      Mubarak Shah, and ruled for forty years.


      "..the most famous among the Indo-Africans
      was the celebrated Malik Ambar (1550-1626).

      Ambar, like a number of Africans in medieval India,
      elevated himself to a position of great authority.

      Malik Ambar, whose original name was Shambu,
      was born around 1550 in Harar, Ethiopia.

      After his arrival in India, Ambar was able to raise
      a formidable army and achieve great power
      in the west Indian realm of Ahmadnagar.

      Ambar was a brilliant diplomat and administrator.
      " Tom Mountains Ambedkar Journal Website
      HABSHIS AND SIDDIS: AFRICAN DYNASTIES IN INDIA

      Habshis ruled Bengal 1486-1491
      by overthrowing the ruler Jalal-al Din.
      Sultan Shahzada 1486 -1487
      Habshi Amir al-Umara (1487-1490)
      Habash Khan
      Sidi Badr 

      SOURCE:

      http://www.the-south-asian.com/Sept2001/Indo-African_Diaspora.htm
      http://www.the-south-asian.com/Sept2001/Indo-African_diaspora2.htm
      http://www.the-south-asian.com/Sept2001/Indo-African_diaspora3.htm  




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