by Farida Dawkins, at 12:58 pm, January 08, 2018, Culture, History

Spotlight: The forgotten black Pakistanis of African descent

Little is known about the Siddi people except that they are marginalized and have been forgotten.  Their plight is that of many individuals included in African communities spread throughout the world in that they are disregarded because of the colour of their skin.

Afro-Pakistanis additionally known as Siddi are direct descendants of the Bantu people in the African great lakes region.  The Siddi, also referred to as Siddhi, Sheedi or Habashi inhabit India and Pakistan; most practice Sunni Islam, however, there are some who are Catholic and Hindi. It’s imperative to point out that like African-Americans, the Pakistani people are a diverse group whose features come in unique variations.

The Siddi arrived at the aforementioned regions under orders from Arab and Portuguese merchants to work as slave labourers. As reminders of remnants of Africa, many families are reported to speak and incorporate West African languages in their local dialect.  Their origins are dated back to 1411 and are known for being diligent workers with great skill in carpentry.

One issue reminiscent of challenges experienced in other portions of the world such as the United States is a lack of leisure activities and facilities which has enabled an increase in risky behaviour such as abusing drugs and joining gangs. Nonetheless, one platform used as a pastime is playing soccer.

Nevertheless, there is some groundwork being laid by some advocates like Twitter user Punkistani (@Paneer_Papi) who said: “There’s not much knowledge on this beautiful small community in Pakistan! They are a community that lack a voice and I think more awareness about them should be raised so we can help!”

She goes on to say: “Please share and let me know if anyone is aware of any form of support or platforms for Afro-Siddhi’s and I’ll try to find something myself. Maaan, I love how diverse my people are”

Interestingly, the women of the Siddi culture are known for being bold and independent, a far cry from the reputation of other Muslim women in other parts of the world.

Here are people’s reactions on Twitter after seeing the video about Afro-Pakistanis:

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