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The Siddi Community                

by K. L. Kamat
November 01, 2001
First Online: October 14, 2003
Page Last Updated: January 29, 2014

The slavery of Africans commenced in India during the fifteenth century and continued till end of nineteenth century. The Portuguese played a vital role in A.D. 1510, when slave trading became part of their commercial activities in Goa. The navigators from Portugal, on way to Goa, anchored at African ports, in Mozambique and forced innocent, defenseless natives into their over-crowded ships and sailed to Goa. They were transported in sub-human conditions and their voyage was an ordeal. A great number of these slaves were brought from Portuguese colony of Mozambique. They were sold like animals in the market. There were frantic buying and selling of male and female slaves. The traders screamed out, giving out specifications and there was prolonged haggle over the price. At times they were sold for a few coins. Thus Goa was teeming with Blacks.

The slaves were performing many menial duties like the washing, cleansing, cooking, collecting water from springs, carrying palanquins, and thus were kept extremely busy all the time without any rest. They were punished even for smallest omission, by beating and whipping. The pathetic pictures of slaves life emerges from various travelers' accounts (see:  Ancient India as Seen by Foreign Travelers)  and innumerable complaints received by the Portuguese king from his Viceroys in India. However, these reports did not bring any solace to the slaves and many escaped in the deep forests to neighboring North Kanara district of Mysore state where they led a secluded life as farm and forest laborers. Even today (year 2001) they could be found in forests of Sambrani, Yallapur, Kravathi, and neighboring places.

In the recent years, the Karnataka Government and Government of India have taken keen interest in bringing these progeny of slaves, locally known as "Siddhis" into main stream of national life. Now, their children attend primary and secondary schools; some even attend colleges. They keenly contest in sports events. Though they have opted for Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religions, they inter-marry without any reservation across the religions.

See Also:

Indian-African Nexus
African Connection

Pictures
A Siddi GirlSiddi Girl with RibbonsAn African-Indian YouthPortrait of a Family Man
Hardworking Siddi WomanPrehistoric Connection?Black, Indian, and  Hindu!A Siddi Habitat
Siddi Girl in Western Indian ForestA Smiling Siddi GirlYoung Woman belonging to Siddi Community

 


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