Pakistan went to the polls last month and among the lawmakers selected is a woman of African descent nominated to a women’s reserved seat at the regional parliament of southern Sindh province.
Tanzeela Qambrani comes from the Sidi, a community made up of a majority of people of African descent.
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Qambrani’s ancestors came from Tanzania just like the ancestors of many Sidi people, who are believed to be either the descendants of slaves brought to Asia by the Portuguese or traders and pilgrims.
“My father told us that his grandparents had been brought to Sindh now around a century ago from Tanzania. That’s why one of my sisters is married in Tanzania,” she said.
The Sidi have managed to hold onto their roots and cultures but still face racial discrimination.
“As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt,” Ms Qambrani, told the BBC.
Qambrani, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto, was nominated by Bhutto’s son Bhutto Zardari, making her the first Sidi to join parliament.
It is not the first time the mother of three who holds a postgraduate in computer science has held political office. She has served as a local councillor in Badin, where she comes from. She, however, says the new position comes with a lot of responsibility and expectations.
“I can already feel the weight,” she said. “I’m a Sidi, and all these middle class, lower-middle class and working class Sidis know that I’m one of them. And this means there will be expectations.”