Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Fri, 08.15.1947

The Siddi Community of India and Pakistan

*On this date in 1947, India held its first election after independence from Britain.  African American Registry uses this month and date from 628 AD to affirm the Siddi people. 

They are a Black African ethnic group from India and Pakistan descended from the Bantu peoples of the East African region.  The first Siddis arrived in India in the 7th Century at the Bharuch port. Several others followed with the first Arab Islamic invasions of the subcontinent in 712 AD. They are also believed to have been soldiers with Muhammad bin Qasim's Arab army and were called Zanjis.  Later the Siddi population grew as slaves brought by the Portuguese and the British. Most of them became Muslim, and a small minority became Hindu.  

Siddis are also known as Sidi, Siddhi, Sheedi, or Habshi, and early on, they were merchants, sailors, indentured servants, slaves, and mercenaries. Some Siddis escaped slavery to establish communities in forested areas. Some also established the small Siddi principalities of Janjira State on Janjira Island and Jafarabad State in Kathiawar as early as the twelfth century. A former alternative name of Janjira was Habshan (i.e., land of the Habshis). In the Delhi sultanate period before the rise of the Mughals in India, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut was a prominent Siddi slave-turned-nobleman who was a close confidant of Razia Sultana (1205–1240 CE).  

There are conflicting theories on the origin of the name Siddi. One theory is that the word derives from sahibi, an Arabic term of respect in North Africa, similar to sahib in modern India and Pakistan. A second theory is that the term Siddi is derived from the title borne by the captains of the Arab vessels that first brought Siddi settlers to India. These captains were known as Sayyid.  Similarly, another term for Siddis, hibachi, is held to be derived from the common name for the captains of the Abyssinian ships that also first delivered Siddi slaves to the subcontinent. Siddis are also sometimes referred to as Afro-Indians.  

The 21st century Siddi community is estimated at around 50,000 to 60,000, with communities in Karnataka, Gujarat, and Hyderabad in India and Makran and Karachi in Pakistan. 

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

We gotta put more in our children’s heads than gold teeth, to keep blackness to keep blackness to always keep it from turning around. america’s got all kinds... SURVIVAL MOTION: NOTICE by Melvin E. Brown.
Read More