Suresh Siddi is one of the fortunate few to receive funds from new schemes implemented by the Indian government. He has chosen to stay within the community, and used the money to add an extra house next to his family's where he lives alone with his wife and child.
Part of a little-known diaspora, the Siddis are the descendants of African migrants to India since the 8th century B.C.E. who came as soldiers, traders, nobles, slaves, and domestic servants. The term Siddi was earlier used as a form of respect for a lord or prince and is a variation of "Sayyed," meaning a descendant of Muhammad. Habshi was a general term used by Europeans to refer to continental Africans and comes from the Arabic word for "Ethiopian" or "Abssynian." Over the past century, the racial prejudices of casteism in mainstream Indian politics has obscured African Indians from the social landscape despite their domicile in the subcontinent for over a millenia. Today, African Indians must all use "Siddi" as a racial label. In January 2003, Siddis were granted ST (Scheduled Tribe) status by the government even though institutional corruption continues to limit their access to government quotas.
This change in status has, however, allowed individual Siddi clusters to realize that the Siddi population is a larger one than they had imagined. Through this, geographically separated Siddis within India are coming together for the first time.
By creating new networks of knowledge exchange, Siddis can finally regard their own history with a sense of pride.
Owner: Dominik Huber