Life Among the Africans in India
April 21, 2009 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Sidi or Siddi is a "community of the descendants of African slaves and seamen, the ancestors of the Sidis came to India and Pakistan through sea trade with East Africa and the Persian Gulf around the 12th century." The slave trade between India and Africa predates the more infamous transatlantic slave trade by at least six centuries. They have a rich history which included controlling the only fort never to fall against the efforts of the British, Dutch and the Mughals. They have now, however, fallen into hard times .

Although they are assimilated in the Indian/Pakistani culture, they have retained their unique musical heritage.
Also there has been a movie based on their lives.
posted by Lucubrator (11 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nice post. I like reading about pre WWII long distance mass migration.

When I was at university there were 4 Indian chaps in one of my tutes who said they were from Kenya. I thought it must have been my Whitey racist eyes playing tricks on me and let it go thru to the 'keeper.

Then one of my first degree-related bosses was also an Indian looking fella from Kenya who set the record straight. There were quite a few Indian slaves workers slaves indentured labourers bought over by the British in the early 1900s to build the railways. His granddad was one.

And knock me down with a feather, I’ve met another 3 or 4 living in Australia since. I didn't even know there was such a group until a few years ago.

/not Sidi, but it reminded me, thought I'd share
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:57 AM on April 21, 2009


Fascinating.
posted by ob at 10:19 AM on April 21, 2009


Very interesting—thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2009


There's a documentary about them making the festival rounds.
posted by goatdog at 11:14 AM on April 21, 2009


Amazing, I had never heard of this before. Thank you for posting.
posted by pravit at 11:39 AM on April 21, 2009


What a great first post. This is all new to me. Here is another photo of Murud - Janjira from a blog post by Unny and some more from Itchy Feet.
posted by adamvasco at 12:15 PM on April 21, 2009


the only fort along India's western coast never to fall against the efforts of the British, Dutch and the Mughals.

Other unconquered forts in India include Junagarh fort in Bikaner, Lohagarh (right in the centre of Bharatpur), and Kishangarh (in Ajmer).
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:54 PM on April 21, 2009


Also there is some DNA evidence that the Siddi are progenitors of the mysterious Melungeons, a unique group of people found in the Appalachians.
posted by ysabella at 1:18 AM on April 22, 2009


Thanks for this post - while of course it makes sense (and tales of ethnic groups where you least expect them no longer surprise me) I had never read about these people.
Uncanny - there were also a lot of Indian traders/storekeepers throughout Eastern Africa.
posted by Megami at 1:55 AM on April 22, 2009


Wow! Gotta love Metafilter! I thought I was exhaustive with the research and this discussion has been the most illuminating.
@Uburoivas: silly mistake.
posted by Lucubrator at 6:51 AM on April 22, 2009


Lucubrator: to be fair, the Dutch probably never had any interest in trying to conquer interior Rajasthan. I guess they'd only have been interested in coastal areas.

You could also throw in the city of Udaipur, which was never conquered by anybody, but there's no real fort there to speak of, only the Aravalli hills which provide a natural defence, especially when peopled by the tribal Bhils - allies of the Maharanas of Udaipur, and, from memory, one of India's aboriginal communities, predating both the Aryans and the Dravidians (though I might be wrong about that).
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:31 AM on April 22, 2009


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