My first encounter with Siddhi Tribe of India – The Afro Indians
We drove from the drylands and fairly well-constructed roads of Sasan Gir village to Jambur crossing villages like Haripur and Talala. It was a short drive of 30 minutes while the stories by the man next to me about how the
The hotel concierge had a brief chat with Faisal who kept glaring me while he listened to the man which rather made me uncomfortable. He nodded in agreement to our request to take us around the village in return for a measly tip. Faisal stated that he would take us around one side of the village and avoid the other as
In my conversation with Faisal, I realized that he is well versed in the history of the tribe even when he hated going to school. Faisal agreeing to the details the hotel concierge shared with me earlier mentioned about the Nawab of Junagadh who fell in love with an African woman during his visit to Africa. He got her to Junagadh, a town in the state of Gujarat of India and 75kms away from Jambur. With her came hundreds of slaves, her companions, and guards who flourished in this part of India.
The Siddhis are not just limited in Gujarat but are living in the core areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka as well. They came to India 100 of years ago as Slaves, Armymen and as traders. Initially, the Arabs sold them to Indian Royals as slaves and the slavery continued until the British age in India. Few of them also traveled with their will as traders and stayed in India.The Africans also migrated to India as army men and few were even awarded the highest rank in the army of various Indian royal states. As per historians Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, an African Siddhi slave turned nobleman was speculated to be the lover of India’s first woman ruler Razia Sultan in the 12th century, who had many African men in her army because of their valor.
As Faisal is being told while growing up they are the descendants of east Africans mainly from countries like Ethiopia, Zambia, and Kenya who today lived as Indians but are called foreigners beyond borders of their village. As we continued to walk inside the village I actually sensed a mini Africa with the surrounding men, women, and kids. The mud houses, deprived clothing and the way of living of people here reflected how distant they are from the necessities of life.
The Siddhi men are mainly farmhands, rickshaw drivers or guides at the Gir National Park. Few of them including women have been appointed as rangers in the national park. The women and young girls apart from their household work use their talent of embroidery to handmade sarees, bags, and dolls which they manage to sell at skimpy prices.Due to their strong physique inherited from the African DNAs few of the
As I moved around, everyone gave a pose to my camera especially the kids, leaving me away from my fears to visit a tribe in India. They were such humble human beings smiling and content in what they have. Most of the
How to Reach Jambur
Jambur is 435 Km away from the Ahmedabad district of Gujarat, India. The village can be accessed by road via NH47 a journey of 08hours. There are also direct trains from Ahmedabad and Rajkot district to Jambur Village.
Is it safe to visit Jambur alone
The nearest place to visit and stay
The home of Asiatic lions, Gir National Park is the nearest excursion from Jambur. We recommend staying in Sasan Gir and traveling to Jambur as the village itself doesn’t have any hotels.