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The Siddis, India's African tribe [Culture on TMC]

The Siddis, India's African tribe [Culture on TMC]

The Morning Call

These ancestral relationships are symbolized by the Siddis community.
They are descendants of the African continent who arrived in India hundreds of years ago as slaves and also as merchants.

They played an important role in the political history of India and they also kept a few African traditions like dancing.

So if they have been in India for centuries, then they surely must be well intergrated?
This is a question you’d probably ask yourself.

Do you know that a majority of Indians do not even know that some of their compatriots are descendants of Africa? Well yes because the Siddis are about 70 000 out of a population of more than 1 billion people in India.

In the 1980s, authorities in India deplored the fact that the country was struggling to win medals or get victories in sports competitions.

They therefore organized a national sports program of searching for new talent in remote villages.

But they told themselves: In fact we have a community of Siddis. Of course they are Indians but since they are of African descent, it obviously means that they are good in good in sports!

So that’s how Siddi athletes played in the Indian national team, and this enabled them to make themselves known to Indians and to the rest of the world.

The Siddis who resemble Africans are faced with a lot of hostility, especially inmajor cities.

They are subjected to insults, ridicule, and are not considered as fully fledged Indians. And therefore most of them prefer to live secluded in the villages. Something that does not facilitate their integration in the Indian society.

Some Siddis believe that the solution lies in sports.

The Indian Government put an end to the search program of young sporting talent a few years ago.

Some former Siddis medalists like the man in a white t-shirt that you are seeing on your screens campaigned fiercely for its come back.

Their determination paid off because the program is back.

Siddi youths are currently undergoing intensive training with the goal of participating in the 2024 Olympics games. They hope that it will allow them to raise awareness about the challenges they face and to show that by wearing the Indian colors, they are fully fledged Indians.

Back to Africans in the diaspora. And this time I would like to introduce you to the work of an Indian photographer.

His name is Mahesh Shantaram. The idea came to him in 2016 following an attack against a 21 year old African student .

So this photographer wanted to meet these Africans who live in India and to photograph them.

He traveled across the country and collected their comments on the reasons that led them to go to India and stay there despite the challenges some of them face. And he hopes that this wil generate real debate of racism in the country.

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The Morning Call

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The Morning Call

The Morning Call is about you. We want to share your opinions on our programme. If you want to contribute to The Morning Call, here are the best ways to get in touch : For more details on how to contribute, click here.