The African people are indeed amazing. They have survived life on this planet like no other people on earth. Life began in Africa, and time and environmental conditions necessitated migrations, wherein much of the primordial world was populated.
Skin color, and physical features changed over thousands of years, as environment, evolution, amalgamation and time changed people physiologically. And though we have changed, we all share in knowing that Africa is our Motherland.
Wars were fought and when Africans lost, they were enslaved and displaced to the land of those who defeated them. And then, there was the Atlantic Slave Trade, when Africans were forcefully taken to most of the continents in the developing world.
And with that being said, there are amazing stories that are yet to be written, stories of Africans surviving; African unity and solidarity.
In this short article, it is my overwhelming honor to reflect on the survival of the Siddi and the Quilombo people; both African tribal descendants who have survived for centuries after being displaced from their native land.
The Siddi are primarily from the Bantu tribe and live in India, and various other regions in Asia. The Quilombo people share a nexus with Angola, and live in Brazil. Miles apart these descendants communities and survived, in opposition to European imperialist who were determined see them enslaved or dead.
The Siddi, also known as Sidi, Siddhi, Sheedi or Habshi
Today, there are an estimated 850,000 Siddi living in Asia. They are of Bantu descent and have been in Asia for centuries. The first Siddi are thought to have arrived in India in 628 A.D.
The Siddi people journeyed to India and Pakistan as merchants, sailors, indentured servants, slaves and mercenaries. As they settled into life among indigenous populations, they assimilated their religions, i.e., Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
Life was difficult for them, for they, like millions of Africans who were held captive in the developing world, had to survive an epoch of enslavement, oppression and marginalization.
It was not until India obtained its freedom from British rule in 1947, that the government freed the Siddi people from slavery.
So that, in order to survive from one century to the next, they learned the language and customs of indigenous populations, while holding one to traditional Bantu music and dance.
Goma music and dance, which is sometimes called Dhamaal; consist of Ngoma drumming, and traditional dance forms that are indigenous to Bantu people who live in Central, East and Southern Africa.
The Goma also has a spiritual significance. The dancing begins and as the dance becomes more intense; reaching its climax, some dancers are believed to be vehicles for the presence of Siddi saints of the past.
The Siddi people survived by staying to themselves; interacting with themselves in communities they built for themselves deep in forested areas.
It is rare for the Siddi to marry outside of their communities although in Pakistan a growing number of the Siddi intermarry as a way to reduce racial discrimination and prejudice.
To sustain themselves they farm. The men are responsible for the farming and women are responsible for the home and children.
Outside of their communities, men also tend to be employed as farm hands, drivers, manual laborers, and security guards.
The Siddi people are hidden form the world; if you have seen them it probably was because of sports, as sports have played a role in helping the youth escape isolation, poverty and discrimination.
Football and boxing are sports the Sheedi youth are know to excel in. Qasim Umer is a prominent sports figure who played cricketer for Pakistan in 80s.
Famous Sheedis include the historic Sindhi army leader Hoshu Sheedi, and Urdu poet Noon Meem Danish. The musical anthem of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, “Bija Teer”, is a Balochi song in the musical style of the Sheedis, with Black African style rhythm and drums.
Younis Jani is a popular Sheedi singer famous for singing an Urdu version of the reggaeton song “Papi chulo.”
Siddi Youth Working Out
Palmares or Quilombo
Palmares, also know as Quilombo dos Palmare is located in the Serra da Brriga hills of northeastern Brazil. The term Quilombo is a link between Palmares and the people of central Angola.
A vast majority of Africans who arrived in Brazil durning the Atlantic Slave Trade, were from Angola and surrounding regions.
Palmares is a community founded by Africans in 1605, who escaped Dutch and Portuguese slavers and their plantations.
In Palmares they were free; they live to themselves and maintained their independence for more than a hundred years.
Though they were enslaved, they were descendants of native Africans know as Imbangala, Africans who created an institution called Kilombo. Kilombo was a community of tribes organized militarily to provide protection against aggressors.
Thus, the Palmares, having escaped the slavers went into the forest and built a community, which they fortified and protected from European aggressors.
At times, between 10-20 thousand free Black African men, women and children lived in the community.
The African people of Palmares defended their community in more that 20 battles against the Dutch and, later, Portuguese colonial powers who sought to destroy Palmares and kill or enslave it’s people.
The Africans developed a form of martial arts called Capoeira and were know as fierce and cunning fighters. It was an acrobatic fighting style that made them virtually invincible in hand-to hand combat against the Europeans.
Palmares allied with indigenous peoples, traded for gunpowder, launched guerrilla raids on coastal sugar plantations to free other captives; it grew into a multicultural community consisting of Africans, Indians, and others who did not fit in with the elites/slavers.
And so, for nearly a century they survived as a free and independent community, fighting off the powers of European colonialism before falling to Portuguese cannons in 1695.
In 2017, as Brazil marked 130 years since the abolition of slavery. Descendants of runaway slaves have been fighting to get legal title to their land.
In the northern state of Para, 500 of them in Quilombo Cachoeira Porteira received formal ownership of 543,631 acres, one of the largest such awards, after a legal fight that lasted more than two decades.
In Brazil today, Palmares is fast becoming a symbol, a call to stand up against Brazil’s president and the country’s ingrained racism towards black and mixed-race majority.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president said of the Quilombos who live throughout Brazil today: “poor and marginalized Afro-Brazilian communities, often descended from fugitive slaves – branding their residents “not even fit for procreation”.
As the Brazilian president, he seems to have an agenda to take away landholding rights of Quilombo communities in favor of deforestation and the powerful agribusiness sector.
Quilombo Fought the Dutch & Portuguese For Decades In Brazil
We Will Die On Our Feet, before we be slaves on our knees
Men & Women Fought The Europeans (To Live Free)
Superior Weapons Were Hard To Overcome
The Catholic Church Played A Major Role In The Enslavement Of Africans
Quilombo Young Adult Women
Glad You Survived Ladies
About 5 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic to Brazil. They suffered and they died; yet they survived. I believe providence is the impetus behind their survival.
Africans were betrayed, abused, exploited, oppressed, murdered and much more by their indigenous brothers and sisters; as well as their global brothers and sisters.
“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit.” There is a robust history of humankind seeking wealth, control and power, all of which foster lust, pleasure and man’s inhumanity to man.
The day will come when the atrocities committed one person against another will be judged. Every person born of flesh and bones will have to stand before God and answer for their sins. In this we can have confidence.
The suffering and affliction suffered by Africans, and Indians during the colonial period has been recorded in the book of life. None of it was in vain, as we today stand on their shoulders.
Their shoulders are strong and they have left an indelible blessing for those who live today and the yet to be born. The blessing is a call to rise up, and strive to make the world a better place for us all.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, Amen.” (Jude 1:24,25)