“Siddi” an African tribe residing in India for over 500 years, still struggles to be accepted as Indians

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Published by Admin on 07 May 2018

You may be surprised to know that about 20,000 members of an African origin ethnic tribal community is living in India for over 500 years. The tribe named “Siddi” mostly resides in small villages of Indian states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Hyderabad. “Siddi” ancestors were brought to India by the Arabs as slaves in the 7th century and later by the Portuguese and British community. Since then they are no longer strangers for India. But the country still treats them as outsiders. The African slaves were originally known as “Habshis”.

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The people belonging to this tribe consider themselves as Indian.They wear Indian outfits and speak the local languages of the area they reside in. Some of them have converted their religion into Islam and Christianity. They follow the same traditional values as Indians but get outnumbered due to their appearance. Their lifestyle is quite similar to the Indians. They are often confused with the south people of India from their facial features. The men of the family earn money by working whereas the women of these tribes tend to be housewives. Marriage takes place within the community.

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A group of “Siddi “children was shortlisted by the sports authority of India to be trained as athletes. Sports had helped them in dealing with issues like unemployment and poverty. They reside in small groups in forests that are slightly away from the cities. The athletes of  “siddi” tribe are going to represent India in Olympics 2024. They have given India one of the best internationally acclaimed athlete named Kamala Mingel Siddi.

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They follow some African customs too. Their dance form and music represents the African culture. The Gujarat tourism has featured them in their tourism video. In spite of being residents of India and accepting the country as their own nation, India still fails to accept them as their citizen. This tribe is still fighting for their recognition and acceptance from the Indian society.

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