Many of the Africans brought into the Indian subcontinent entered through the ports of Baluchistan and Sindh, where they worked as dockworkers, horse-keepers, domestic servants, agricultural workers, nurses, palanquin carriers and apprentices to blacksmiths and carpenters. In 1851, the linguist Sir Richard Burton, who served in the British Army in Sindh, noted how up to 700 Bambasi, Habshi and Zangibari—all Africans—were imported annually into neighboring Baluchistan. Females were in greater demand and were priced at around 50 pounds, while children were bartered for grain, cloth and other goods. Much of the vocabulary used by the Afro-Sindhi descendants of these migrants is a modified Swahili. For instance, the word for shield in Swahili, ngao, is gao among the Afro-Sindhi; the word for moon (or one month) in Swahili, mwesi, is moesi in Afro-Sindhi.
Pakistan has the most people of African descent in South Asia. It has been estimated that at least a quarter of the total population of the Makran coast is of African ancestry—that is, at least 250,000 people living on the southern coast of Pakistan, which overlaps with southeastern Iran, can claim East African descent. Beginning in 1650 Oman traded more heavily with the Lamu archipelago on the Swahili coast and transported Africans to the Makran coast. As a result, today many Pakistani of African descent are referred to as Makrani, whether or not they live there. On the coast they are also variously referred to as dada, sheedi and syah (all meaning black), or alternatively, gulam (slave) or naukar (servant). The children of Sindhi Muslim men and sidiyani (female Africans) are called gaddo—as in half-caste. The population geneticist Lluis Quintana-Murci of the Pasteur Institute in Paris found that more than 40 percent of the maternal gene pool of the Makrani is of African origin.
"Mombasa Street" and "Sheedi Village" in Karachi speak to the African presence in modern-day Pakistan. The predominantly Muslim Afro-Pakistani community in Karachi continues to celebrate the Manghopir festival, in honor of the Sufi saint Mangho Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan. Outside the main shrine in Karachi, there is a pond with crocodiles that are served specially prepared food. The crocodiles, which were venerated by Hindus before the advent of Islam and are also regarded with esteem by Africans, have become an integral part of the shrine. Although the Sheedis no longer understand all the words of the songs they sing, they pass along this tradition to succeeding generations.
activities on the Pakistani Makran coast influenced the music of Afro-Baluchis,
many of whom were seafarers who maintained contacts with eastern and
northeastern Africa through the middle of the 20th century. There are
distinct similarities between the Afro-Pakistani drumming and singing
performances called laywa in the Makran and those called lewa
in coastal Oman—songs consisting of Swahili words and references to
both East Africa and the sea.
The history of India's Africans, called Siddis, is the best known in the region—largely because of the documentation on those who rose to high positions as military commanders.
African ivory was the most sought-after commodity among Indian merchants; ivory was carried from the inland to the East African coast, where it was sold, loaded onto dhows, and transported to the ports of southern Arabia. From there they would continue across the Arabian Sea, stopping along the Makran coast, before continuing on to western India. Given India's large population, its indigenous slaves, and a caste system among Hindus in which most labor-intensive tasks were traditionally performed by specific groups, African males were employed in very specialized jobs, almost always having to do with some aspect of security—as soldiers, palace guards, or personal bodyguards. They were generally deemed more trustworthy than indigenous people to serve in those capacities, but in a number of cases Africans rebelled against their Muslim or Hindu rulers. During the 15th and 16th centuries, African slave-soldiers seized power in the Bengal sultanate, parts of the Deccan, and the sultanate of Gujarat. However, several centuries before these rebellions, an Abyssinian attained high rank in alliance with the female ruler of Delhi.
In 1236 an Abyssinian named Jalal-ud-din Yakut served in the important imperial post of master of the royal stable, an honor conferred by the Delhi sultana Raziya. In India, where Africans were known for their equestrian skills and their ability to tame wild horses, they served in the cavalry, unlike in the Middle East, where they were limited to service in the infantry. Yakut, a skilled soldier and horseman, was also a political ally of Raziya during her fight for control of the throne. Raziya's father, the Turkish ruler Iltutmish, who had conquered much of northern India, had named her as his successor, but Raziya's brother opposed her. She ruled for four years, before both she and Yakut were killed—on the run and in battle.
century later, the Moroccan jurist and explorer Ibn Battuta recorded
that during his stay in India from 1333 to 1343 the governor of Allahpur
(north of Delhi) was an African named Badr, technically enslaved to
the Rajah of Dholpur. In India as elsewhere in the Indian Ocean region,
the category "slave" was much more elastic than in the Atlantic
world, where enslaved Africans had far less opportunity for upward mobility
under European colonial rule and in the new republics of the Americas.
Africans have been part of the western state of Gujarat since at least the first century, when the town of Barygasa (Baruch today) was considered an Ethiopian town, peopled by merchants from East Africa. Oral history recounted by Afro-Gujaratis mentions how their ancestors also served as bodyguards in the palaces of Hindu kings. Among their functions: to taste the Maharajah's food to protect against attempted poisoning.
The Mughals, a Muslim imperial power in northern India from the early 16th century through the early 19th, relied on African soldiers and sailors. In 1572, when the Mughal Emperor Akbar entered Gujarat, he was reportedly protected by 700 armed Habshi on horseback. African soldiers and sailors also received annual payment for defending Mughal subjects from piracy at sea and attacks on land. Between the 16th and 18th centuries a Habshi naval force was based in Surat, the principal port in Gujarat, and African sailors accompanied pilgrims to Mecca, offering protection on the high seas. Such Habshi naval protection even predated Mughal rule. Ibn Battuta noted in the mid-14th century the legendary bravery of Habshi soldiers and sailors. Ibn Battuta traveled with 50 Abyssinians on a ship to protect against pirate attacks; he called them "the guarantors of safety on the Indian Ocean." While boarding a Chinese junk at Calicut in south India, he observed Abyssinians carrying javelins and swords and others with drums and bugles, indicating the use of Africans on ships traveling to the Far East.
Gujarati Siddis distinguish themselves from others in India by their strong Sufi practices, mostly centering on the African pir Bava Gor, the most revered Sufi among people of African descent in South Asia. Bava Gor, originally named Siddi Mubarak Nob, came from East Africa during the 14th century and made Ratanpur, in Gujarat, his home. The African became the patron saint of the agate bead industry, having been credited for augmenting the trade in the quartz stone between East Africa, the Persian Gulf, and India. Before arriving in India, Bava Gor spent time in Mecca and the area of Basra in lower Iraq, where he studied with Sufis of the Rifa'i order, who gave him the honorific title Baba Ghaur, meaning "master of deep meditation" in Arabic.
According to one oral tradition, Bava Gor's sister, Mai Misra, who developed her own Sufi following, came to India to vanquish a demoness; meanwhile, her brother vanquished the demon Rakshisha of Hindu mythology. This legend speaks to the historic tensions involving the coming of Islam to the Indian subcontinent and the transformation of Hindu society. Misra, whose name is derived from misr (Arabic for northeast Africa), is particularly venerated for her powers of fertility. Respect for her may be seen in the coconut rattles used by the Siddis that bear her name. In Gujarat, as well as other parts of India, Siddis play the malunga, a single-stringed braced musical bow, found in many East African communities (and as far away as Brazil, where it is called berimbau). The hand that holds the malunga will also hold the mai misra rattle below, which is attached to a gourd resonator to amplify the instrument.
Many Siddis in Gujarat are known for performing sacred music as wandering fakirs (Sufi ascetics) in praise of Bava Gor and other saints. They perform goma (or dhamal), a word deriving from the Swahili ngoma (drum and dance), in celebration of urs, commemorating Muslim saints, sometimes over the course of several days. They also perform at weddings and birthdays and, in previous times, at celebrations of noble courts.
Today Bava Gor shrines are located along the eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent—from the area of Sindh down to Mumbai. They are often associated with the agate trade and are visited not only by Muslims of various backgrounds but also by Zoroastrians, Christians, and Hindus. In Gujarat, the shrines were a former refuge for runaway Africans and, later, for free Siddis looking for a space where they could congregate. One contemporary follower of Bava Gor, Sidi Asoo Appa, served as caretaker of a shrine in Mumbai. Her grandfather had been recruited from East Africa into the army of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and her father, Abdul Rasak Sidi Bilal, was a singer of qawwali (songs of Muslim devotional praise).
in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf Coast region African musical and dance
traditions have continued in the form of spirit possession performances
(zar and tanburah), in South Asia African traditions largely revolve
around the veneration of Sufi pirs, such as Bava Gor in Gujarat or Shaikh
Najib in the Maldives. In both areas, references to the ocean and seafaring
figure prominently with lyrics from East Africa. In the Gujarati port
city of Diu—where in 1838 a chronicler estimated that up to 6 percent
of the population was Siddi—many Swahili words are found in the languages
spoken today by the men and women of African descent.
Bengal and Deccan
Several kings in Bengal, in east India, secured enslaved African soldiers to protect and expand their kingdoms. From 1460 to 1481, the sultan of Bengal, Rukn al-Din Barbak Shah, had 8,000 Africans in his army, some of whom held high command. Another king, Habesh Khan, was overthrown in 1490 by one of his African guardsmen, Sidi Badr, who seized the throne for himself and ruled for three years as Shams-ud-din Abu Nasr Musaffar Shah. Five thousand of his 30,000 soldiers were Habshi. Sidi Badr was overthrown, and Africans in Bengal, especially those in high command, were expelled, as they were then seen as posing a threat to indigenous Indian rulers. Many of these Africans, both rank-and-file soldiers and commanders with experience, went either to the five Muslim sultanates of the Deccan or to Gujarat, where local rulers employed them as mercenaries—continuing the military contributions of Africans in India.
Malik Ambar, who became famous in the Deccan, is the best known of the Africans who seized power in India. With several surviving paintings of him accompanied by written documentation, his story is among the most detailed of the historical Habshis. Born in southern Ethiopia in the mid-16th century, Ambar was enslaved as a young man and taken to Mocha in Yemen, where he converted to Islam. Noted for his intellectual abilities, he was educated in finance and administration by his owners in western Arabia before being taken to Baghdad and then arriving in central India's Deccan.
Ambar's recognized abilities brought him increasing responsibilities, including military authority. Under the minister of the king of Ahmadnagar, Ambar commanded both Indian and Habshi soldiers. By the turn of the 17th century, however, he rebelled and formed his own army of 150 men, which he eventually grew to 10,000 cavalry and infantrymen, many of whom were Africans. In 1610, an English merchant, William Finch, writing from near Ahmadnagar (where Ambar had become peshwa, or regent minister), noted that the Habshi general commanded "some ten thousand of his own [caste], all brave souldiers, and som[e] forty thousand Deccanees." The runaway had become a mercenary general with a mobile armed force. Over the next two decades he fought for various rulers in the Deccan and fended off the incursions of the Mughal emperor Akbar and his successor Jahangir, each of whom attempted but failed to take control of the region.
By 1616 Ambar not only commanded a powerful cavalry force that used British artillery, but was successfully cutting off Mughal supply lines through his naval alliance with the Siddi rulers of Janjira. Over the course of his campaigns against the Mughals, he continued to infuse his army with Habshi soldiers, whom he trained, provided with an education in the Quran, and used for his private guard.
Ambar sought to integrate his family into the indigenous royalty and nobility. His daughter was brought into the royal household of the Nizam Shahi dynasty as the wife of Sultan Murtaza II; and his son, Fateh Khan, married the daughter of one of the most powerful nobles of the land, Yakut Khan, a free Habshi. Ambar, a ruler unto himself, established the city of Khadki in which he oversaw the construction of canals, an irrigation system, mosques, schools, tombs and a palace. He also distinguished himself for his religious tolerance. He granted land to Hindus, patronized Hindu scholars, and appointed Brahmins as officials and tax collectors. When the Habshi ruler died in 1626, he left one of the most impressive legacies of any ruler in the Deccan.
The Mughals drew upon the tradition and practice of using African soldiers and sailors for protection, and Siddi captains were appointed admirals of their fleet. Some Siddis of the sea were their own masters, settling in the island fort of Janjira (south of Mumbai) and creating a string of fortifications along the coast. The island of Janjira (from jazeera, island or peninsula in Arabic) was a formidable fortress entirely surrounded by large walls with 22 rounded bastions. It was also known as Habsan (from Habsha, Ethiopia). The first African to be posted at Janjira was Sidi Ambar Sainak ("The Little," to distinguish him from Malik Ambar), appointed by Malik Ambar in 1617.
rulers of Janjira, who formed their own royal lineage, remained undefeated
for almost 300 years. Not until 1870 were the British—their Bombay
garrison included more than 600 Africans in 1760—able to finally defeat
the Siddis of Janjira. By that time, they had also become integrated
with mainland Indian royalty.
Beginning in 1510, among the key Portuguese colonial enclaves in the Indian Ocean world was Goa, located on the western coast of India. West-Central Africans from Angola, Atlantic Africans from Brazil and East Africans from Mozambique—all Portuguese colonies—formed the bulk of the African presence in Goa. Some were sold to other Europeans. For example, on October 15, 1777, the French East India Company asked its brokers the Mhamay family (Goa natives) for 200 adult men, 100 women and 100 boys. The request was fulfilled from a recently arrived ship from Mozambique that had brought 700 Africans. About a decade later the Mhamays were still involved in slave trading. Among the hundreds of African men they sold were five whose Christian names are recorded as Alberto, Ignacio, Januario, Joao and Joaquim—sold for 822 Bombay rupees. Such Christianized names assumed by Africans, like assumed Muslim (Arabic) names, would obscure their African origins.
the 16th through the 19th century, enslaved Africans from Goa fled for
refuge to neighboring Karnataka, but in the wake of the major uprising
against British rule in India in 1857 an African named Siddi Bastian
led a group of fellow Siddis and Kanarese (indigenous Indians from Karnataka)
in a sustained campaign against European forces. For almost two years
maroons under Bastian's command looted and burned British and Portuguese
settlements along the border of Goa.
In the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, African soldiers called Chaush (derived from Ottoman military nomenclature) served in the army and cavalry of the Nizam-ul-Mulk (the title of the sovereign of the state). From at least the mid-19th century through 1948, various Nizams kept 300 soldiers serving as their personal guards stationed in a compound in Hyderabad. These Africans, from diverse origins, were organized into two regiments, the African Bodyguard and the African Cavalry Guard. The last surviving guardsman, Feroz bins Abdullah, interviewed at the turn of the 21st century, believed his father came from Zanzibar.
addition to parading and performing military music as a show of force
to assert the authority of the Nizam, the African soldiers also performed
their own music for the court, which included drumming, dancing and
singing. These regiments were disbanded after India's independence
in 1947. The soldiers' descendants continue to live in the "AC Guards
District" of Hyderabad. While their exact African origins are unknown,
the Chaush of Somali background can recount their genealogies. Some
descendants remember their parents greeting friends in Swahili—the
lingua franca for many of the Africans taken out of East Africa.
A number of Siddis converted to Christianity in the 20th century and were sent to Mauritius, the Seychelles and Kenya with support from Christian missionaries. Those who went to Kenya settled in Freretown, near Mombasa. However, they remained relatively isolated, given that the majority of people around them were Muslim.
Today, the number of Siddis in India, who include Muslims, Hindus and Christians, is estimated to be over 50,000. The largest concentration is in the states of Karnataka (southwest). There are an estimated 18,000 Siddis living in the district—mostly descendants of maroons (runaway slaves) from Goa beginning in the 16th century and continuing through the 19th. Their various communities consist of about 10 settlements, each with between five and 40 houses, organized into an association.
About 12,000 Siddis live in Andhra Pradesh (southeast), mostly in the predominantly Muslim city of Hyderabad. Gujarat (northwest) is home to 10,000 Siddis; and smaller communities also exist in the states of Maharashtra (west), Madhya Pradesh (central), Uttar Pradesh (north), and Tamil Nadu (south).
are considered simultaneously inside and outside the racial and caste
classification systems in India and much of the subcontinent. The government
of India has recently granted them "special tribal status," guaranteeing
them access to jobs and education, but most continue to live in poverty.
As the village head of Jambur, in Gujarat, Siddi Aisha Ben Basureem
noted, "We have a lot to worry about; people in other villages live
happy lives, but our people are miserable." Some Muslim descendants
of Africans in Karnataka prefer to be referred to as Muslim rather than
Siddi—as they see their connection to the global Muslim world as primary—yet
they also participate in Christian festivals; some Muslim Siddis in
Karnataka and in Gujarat even pay homage to the Hindu deity Lakshmi.
Such activities speak to the multiple ways in which Afro-Indians have
connected with each other, despite religious differences, and have learned
to navigate their societies.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives
As early as the fifth century, Abyssinians traveled to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and traded in Matota in the northwest. Centuries later, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to bring Africans to Sri Lanka as slaves and mercenary soldiers. The Portuguese had preceded the Dutch, French and British into the long-existing Indian Ocean trade networks, driving the largely forced migration of Africans into various parts of this world. The Portuguese colonial state, the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company all actively engaged in the Indian Ocean slave-trading of Africans, competing with each other for control of territories and trade routes in the region. Sri Lanka, because of its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, was highly contested. The island served as an emporium in the Indian Ocean and the meeting point between East Africa and East Asia.
During the 14th century, when the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta was at Colombo, he noted "the wazir and ruler of the sea," Jalasti, had "about 500 Abyssinians" serving in his garrison.
Among the Africans taken to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese were those already living in Lisbon, where by the late 15th century a sizable black population had grown. Some would have joined the Portuguese crews destined for the Indian Ocean world, as sailors were increasingly in demand. On their way to the Indian Ocean, and depending on the route taken, Portuguese captains may have also picked up West Africans at El Mina (on the coast of Ghana), at the mouth of the Congo River or the Niger Delta, the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Azores, or in Mozambique and Madagascar on the eastern side of Africa.
By the 17th century, the Portuguese were regularly recruiting Africans to assist them in seizing or defending strategic ports in the Indian Ocean, including those in Sri Lanka. In 1631 African soldiers sent from Goa rescued the Portuguese from an early defeat by the Dutch. Some 100 Kaffir soldiers from Goa joined the Portuguese Captain-General Dom Jorge de Almeida at Cochin in southern India with instructions to continue on to Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, 200 Kaffir soldiers stationed in Cochin were sent directly to Colombo, where they protected the Portuguese—and were paid for their services, indicating that these soldiers were mercenaries. In 1638, the Portuguese Captain-General Diego de Mello de Castro led an attack on Kandy in the forest hills of central Sri Lanka with a force of 300 Kaffirs; two years later more than 100 Kaffir archers fought for the Portuguese against the Dutch at Galle in the south. When the Portuguese finally lost Sri Lanka to the Dutch in 1658, many Kaffirs simply switched their military service to the new rulers; others settled in the Buddhist Kandyan kingdom, which remained under local rule. The local monarch, overseeing a majority indigenous Sinhalese ethnic population, valued the Kaffir soldiers, employing a number of them as his personal guards. Kaffirs therefore served Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist rulers, in addition to Christian Europeans, in the region.
African military prowess in Sri Lanka continued into the 19th century. Joseph Fernando, an African brought to Sri Lanka from Mauritius, along with some 80 other Kaffirs, served the Kandyan kingdom and helped fend off British incursions until 1815.
In addition to being used for military purposes, Africans worked in the construction of forts. The Dutch governor Van Goens Junior noted in the 1670s that 4,000 Kaffirs had built the fortress of Colombo.
By the mid-19th century, Wesleyan missionary Robert Spence Hardy would note that there had been at least 6,000 Kaffirs on the island at some point, but that their numbers had significantly decreased. The figure is an indication of the impact felt by colonizers, missionaries and indigenous Sinhalese and Tamil of the African presence on the island. The number of Kaffirs is difficult to assess, however, because the children of Afro–Sri Lankan women who married non-Kaffir men are not themselves counted as being Kaffir. As a result, thousands of such descendants are less conspicuous in official records, having had their African heritage obscured, if not erased.
Oral histories among the Kaffirs nevertheless illuminate their past or help corroborate what written records exist. Ana Miseliya, the late grand matriarch of the African-descended community of Sirambiyadiya in the Puttalam district on the western coast, traced her community's roots to ancestors brought during the colonial era. According to Miseliya, her forefathers were soldiers who arrived at Trincomalee in the east to help Europeans establish their authority. Historical records indicate that 874 African soldiers served in the 3rd and 4th Ceylon Regiments in the nineteenth century. In 1865, when the 3rd Ceylon Regiment's detachment in Puttalam was disbanded, soldiers from the African garrison were given land in the area, where they retired.
remnants, in the form of music, dance, language and in some cases material
culture are a vital part of Afro–Sri Lankan communities. Kaffirs today
regularly perform dances, accompanied by drummers and singers, using
lyrics that may not be fully understood by their youngest generation
yet serve to preserve aspects of their African heritage. The Kaffirs'
cultural impact has also been more broadly felt: the popular Sri Lankan
dance called "Kaffrinha Baila" is a direct result of the historic
contact between the Kaffirs, Portuguese and Sinhalese.
Traveling on Arab dhows, Africans populated the Maldives, an archipelago to the west of Sri Lanka, beginning in the 12th century, if not earlier. Arabs had been trading with islanders as early as the mid-ninth century for the cowry shells that were used as a currency in both East Africa and South Asia. Africans were variously referred to as Baburu, Habshi and Siddi (the term Kaffir, used in nearby Sri Lanka, was not used by Maldivians).
In 1153 the Maldivian king, who had been a Buddhist, converted to Islam, establishing a long-ruling sultanate. Two centuries later, Ibn Battuta noted the African presence in the Maldives. During his stay between 1344 and 1346 he visited the Habshigefanu Magan (shrine of the worthy African), Shaikh Najib, a Muslim African saint who had died decades earlier in the Maldives. On the island of Kinalos the Moroccan traveler was welcomed by the island chief, Abd al-Aziz al-Makdashawi (of Mogadishu, Somalia).
Africans had been taken to the Maldives as part of the regular slave trade in the region but also by sultans returning from the pilgrimage to Mecca. During the mid-15th century, Sultan Hasan III reportedly brought back to the Maldives some 70 African captives after performing the hajj. Most of the enslaved Africans in the Maldives worked as coconut plantation keepers, planting and harvesting coconut trees for the production of coir rope (made out of the fibers of the trees), a particularly valuable commodity, sought throughout Asia for maritime-related industries.
most Africans have assimilated into the local societies, having intermarried
with the local populations, their cultural legacy remains. As in other
areas of the Indian Ocean world, a genre of music associated with Africans
and their descendants called bodu beru (meaning large drum in
the language of Dhivehi) is accompanied by babaru lava (black
songs), whose words are no longer understood by the Afro-Maldivians—a
linguistic phenomenon seen across communities of African descent in
the region where the pressure on younger members to assimilate into
the dominant societies has led to loss of languages once spoken.
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Porters at a Wedding Procession #832915 - <em>Picture Collection, Mid-Manhattan Library, The New York Public Library. </em> <p> </p> In the 18th century, Africans from the East Coast and Madagascar were transported to the Makran coast in Pakistan, and to Gujarat (India). Some were then sent to serve Indian and European elites in the north and east as far away as Bengal.
Young Pakistani Sheedi #198_338 - AP Photo/Shakil Adil <p> </p> Pakistan has the largest number of people of African descent in South Asia. It has been estimated that at least a quarter of the total population living on the Makran coast are of African ancestry—that is, at least 250,000 men and women can claim East African descent on the southern coast of Pakistan and in the easternmost part of southern Iran. In Pakistan, African descendants are called Sheedi (Siddi.) Many are also called Makrani, whether or not they live in Makran.
Sheedi Men #198_339 - Photographer: © Masood Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan <p> </p> Many of the African captives brought into the Indian subcontinent entered through the ports of Baluchistan and Sindh in Pakistan. In 1851, the linguist Sir Richard Burton, who served in the British Army in Sindh, noted that up to 700 Bambasi, Habshi, and Zangibari—all Africans—were imported annually into neighboring Baluchistan.
Sheedi Culture #198_342 - AP Photo/Fareed Khan <p> </p> Every year Sheedis gather at the shrine of the Sufi saint Mangho Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan at Manghopir, a suburb of Karachi, for their most important religious festival. Yaqub Qambrani, a former president of the All Sindh Al Habash Jama’at, a Sheedi organization, stresses, “It was difficult for the community to hold on to its traditions and culture due to slavery and the wadera shahi (feudalism) that was en vogue. We weren’t the only ones that were oppressed. Countless people were oppressed. But because of our physical appearance we were the ones that stuck out. That’s why we were particularly picked on. It is largely the same today, but it is less obvious.”
Sheedi Women #198_341 - AP Photo/Shakil Adil <p> </p> Much of the vocabulary used by the Afro-Sindhi is a modified Swahili. For instance, the word for shield in Swahili, <em>ngao</em>, is <em>gao</em> among the Afro-Sindhi; the word for moon (or one month) in Swahili, <em>mwesi</em>, is <em>moesi</em> in Afro-Sindhi. In Lyari, a neighborhood of Karachi, there is a Mombasa Street, the name coming from the Kenyan port city. These women are celebrating the Sufi saint Mangho Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan at Manghopir, a suburb of Karachi. Sheedis, like the Siddis of India, also revere the African saint Bava Ghor.
Sheedi Organizations #13-17a - <em>Collection of Aisha Al-Adawiya.</em> <p> </p> Al-Habsh (The Ethiopian), established in the mid-1960s, was one of the first Sheedi organizations. In 1972, the association Sheedi Community of Kharadar, Karachi, was launched. It traced the origin of the Sheedi to East African soldiers in the Muslim armies of Muhammad bin Qasim, who conquered Punjab and Sindh in 710. Today, some of the most active organizations are the All Sindh Sheedi Welfare Association and the All Sindh Al Habash Jama’at.
Sheedi Boy in Sindh #198_340 - Photographer: © Masood Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan <p> </p> The Sheedi community is predominantly poor and has a small educated class, mostly in the interior of Sindh. "We have just awoken," says one community organizer; "I feel things will get better for the next generation."
Iskandar Fights in India #1597366 - <em>Spencer Collection, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> The <em>Shâhnâmah</em>, or <em>The Book of Kings</em>, by the poet Adbul Kasim Mansar Firdausi (c. 940-1020) is the Persian national epic. It recounts the history and exploits of the pre-Islamic kings and knights, including Alexander the Great (Iskandar). This illustration accompanies a Turkish translation (1616-1620). In 326 , Alexander the Great conquered the Punjab in what is now Pakistan. African soldiers can be seen in this miniature.
African Muslim Theologians #12_61 - Artist: Murad. <em>Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution</em>, Washington, D.C.: Purchase, F1942. 17a – 18a <p> </p> Shah Jahan, ruler of the Mughal Empire between 1628 and 1658—and builder of the famous Taj-Mahal—honors Muslim learned men, including two Africans.
Performers in Malabar #1244277 - <em>Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> Regular slave trading to India is believed to have started in the 13th century and increased significantly in the 16th century during religious wars in Ethiopia. Most Africans worked at menial tasks, but in contrast to what happened in the Americas, others rose to high positions and founded ruling dynasties during slavery.
Indian Musicians, Early 1800s #832917 - <em>Picture Collection, Mid-Manhattan Library, The New York Public Library. </em> <p> </p> Adult men were the most in demand in India. They were barbers, musicians, field laborers, water carriers, guards, soldiers and sailors. By the 1820s preference shifted toward boys—who were more easily controlled than adults—and women for domestic work and as concubines and prostitutes. The slave trade to India was organized at different times by the Arabs, the Portuguese, the British and the Indians.
Muslim Snake Charmers, Allahabad #1125340 - J. Forbes Watson and John William Kaye, eds., <em>The People of India </em>(London: Indian Museum, 1868-1875). <em>Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> Africans who arrived on the coasts were retained locally or transferred inland to various regions, including as far away as Allahabad in the northeast. In 1811 the British colonial government enacted the Abolition Act, which made the slave trade illegal. Slavery was not officially abolished in India until 1838. Illegal forms of slavery continued thereafter.
Man of African Origin in Assam, India #1125265 - J. Forbes Watson and John William Kaye, eds., <em>The People of India </em>(London: Indian Museum, 1868-1875). <em>Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> Assam lies in the extreme northeast of India, between Bhutan and Bangladesh. Africans have been present in India for centuries. Even as they have intermarried with local populations, many can still be differentiated through their physical traits and cultural practices.
Sidi Said Mosque #12_37 - Photographer: © Alfie (Helmut Schütz) <p> </p> The mosque was built by the Ethiopian Sidi Said, a royal slave, also known as Shaikh (honorific title) Said al-Habashi (the Ethiopian). Sidi Said retired a wealthy man to Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat. Extremely learned and devout, he built the mosque in 1570-1571, and close by he opened a soup kitchen for the poor. He is buried near the mosque, and his grave continues to be a site of worship for Muslims.
Sidi Said Mosque #12_38 - Photographer: © jaymasood <p> </p> The ornamented “Tree of Life” window is carved in sandstone. Another window represents a smaller tree of life flanked by palm trees and a vine.
Sidi Said Mosque #12_39 - Photographer: © jaymasood <p> </p> The Sidi Said Mosque is considered one of the best examples of architecture in Gujarat.
Sidi Said Mosque #12-21 - © Adrewine Photography <p> </p> The interior of the mosque contains 15 areas, each with a different type of ceiling.
Nawab Sidi Mohammed Haider Khan, 1930 #12_34 - <em>Collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins.</em> <p> </p> After renouncing his rights to the throne of Janjira, Sidi Mohammad Abdul Karim Khan established the Sachin State in 1791 in Gujarat. It survived until 1948, when it was incorporated into Bombay (Mumbai) before becoming part of Gujarat. The Siddi dynasty was Muslim and ruled over a population 85 percent Hindu and 13 percent Muslim. Nawab Sidi Mohammed Haider Khan was enthroned as the seventh ruler of Sachin in 1930. A well-read intellectual, he retired to Mumbai where he died in 1970.
The Nawab of Sachin, 1930 #12_41 - <em>Collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins.</em> <p> </p> <a class="video-launcher" href="video.php?name=SIDDI%2520NAWAB%2520OF%2520SACHIN.f4v">Click here to view video of Nawab of Sachin and religious ritual by Sidi Goma Group of Bharuch District, Gujarat.</a> <p> </p> <em>From Africa to India: Sidi Music in the Indian Ocean Diaspora</em>. © Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, 2003. <p> </p> This picture was taken during the installation of Haider Khan (on the throne with a footstool) as Nawab of Sachin..
Siddis, Gujarat #13_37 - Photographer: © Firoze Shakir, Poet Photographer, Mumbai, India <p> </p> <a class="video-launcher" href="video.php?name=SIDDI%2520QAWWALI.f4v">Click here to view video Song in Honor of Bava Gor.</a> <p> </p> <em>From Africa to India: Sidi Music in the Indian Ocean Diaspora</em>. © Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, 2003. <p> </p> In Gujarat, the 10,000 Siddis are Muslim and speak Gujarati, but some speak a language that mixes Gujarati and Swahili. Siddi Muslims in India (and Sheedis in Pakistan) revere the 14<sup>th</sup> century African saint Bava Gor, and his sister Mai Misra.
Siddi Fakirs in Gujarat #13_36 - Photographer: © Firoze Shakir, Poet Photographer, Mumbai, India <p> </p> <a class="video-launcher" href="video.php?name=SIDDI%2520FAKIR.f4v">Click here to see video of Fakirs in Gujarat.</a> <p> </p> <em>Voices of the Sidis: The Tradition of the Fakirs</em>. © Beheroze Shroff, 2005. <p> </p> The fakirs often perform in the streets and at shrines during the celebrations held for Muslim Sufi saints.
The Noble Ikhlas Khan #198_331 - Muhammad Khan, <em>The Noble Ikhlas Khan With a Petition</em>. Muhammad Khan (17th century), India. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, c. 1650. 4 23/32 in. x 4 1/4 in <em>San Diego Museum of Art.</em> <p> </p> In 1490, an African guard, Sidi Badr, seized power in Bengal and ruled for three years before being murdered. Five thousand of the 30,000 men in his army were Ethiopians. After Sidi Badr’s assassination, high-level Africans were driven out and migrated to Gujarat and the Deccan. In the Deccan sultanate of Bijapur, Africans formerly enslaved—they were called the “Abyssinian party”—took control. The African regent Dilawar Khan exercised power from 1580 and was succeeded by Ikhlas Khan. The Abyssinian party dominated the Bijapur Sultanate and conquered new territories until the Mughal invasion in 1686.
Portrait of a Young Man #12_36 - <em>Portrait of a Young Man</em>, Indian, about 1620. Deccan, India. Opaque watercolor on paper 25.5 x 17.9 cm. <em>Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. </em>Special Fund for the Purchase of Indian Art, 13.1397. <p> </p> This portrait is believed to be the Afro-Indian Sultan Burhan Nizam Shah III (1605-1632), who ruled in the sultanate of Ahmednagar, in northwest Deccan.
Malik Ambar #12_43 - Artist: Unknown,<em> </em>c. 1620. Watercolor on paper. <em>Victoria and Albert Museum.</em> <p> </p> Malik Ambar (1549-1626) was born in Harar, Ethiopia, and was sold into slavery. He changed owners several times in Yemen, Iraq and Arabia before arriving in India, where he was enslaved by Chengiz Khan (himself an Ethiopian and a former slave), the prime minister of the sultanate of Ahmednagar in the Deccan region. Malik Ambar married his daughter to a young heir of the Ahmednagar dynasty; he named him Sultan Murtaza Nizam Shah II in 1600 and became his<strong> </strong>prime minister. Ambar was in office from 1600 to 1626. Having a deep interest in architecture, he founded and designed the city of Khadki (now Aurangabad), including its sophisticated water system, several mosques and a church. He was reputed for his skills in guerrilla warfare and had an African army of 7,000.
Tomb of Malik Ambar #198_336 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> “A mile outside Raoza [now Khuldabad] proper, north-west, stands the tomb of Malik Ambar, the celebrated minister of Ahmednagar and the founder of the city of Aurangabad. It is built of plain stone, and is surmounted by a lofty dome, the interior of which is carved in various devices, and is remarkable for the echo which it possesses. The grave, which consists of a small stone-covered mound in the usual Mahomedan style, occupies a raised platform in the centre. It contains no inscription of any kind.”—Syed Hossain Bilgrami, ed., <em>Historical and descriptive sketch of His Highness the Nizam’s Dominions</em> (Bombay, 1884)
Malik Ambar (? ) #12_35 - <em>Portrait of Malik Ambar</em>. Southern Indian, 1610-20, Ahmednagar, Deccan, India. Opaque watercolor on paper 36.7 x 23.9 cm. <em>Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Ross-Coomaraswamy Collection, 17.3103. </em> <p> </p> This portrait, putatively of Malik Ambar, is believed to be of his son, Fateh Khan. Fateh Khan married the daughter of another Habshi (Ethiopian), one of the most powerful nobles in the kingdom. In 1631 vizier—top official—Fateh Khan deposed the sultan and installed Hussain Shah in his place. Khan held the real power until 1633, when both were exiled to Delhi and the kingdom was annexed by the Mughals.
Sidi Sa’d Lyre Player #12_50 - Mughal or Deccani Painting, c. 1640-1660<em>. Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection.</em> <p> </p> Sidi Sa’d was a follower of the Ethiopian-born Deccan ruler Malik Ambar. He is shown playing the typical Nubian lyre. Today these lyres, called <em>nangas </em>by the Siddis, can be seen in their shrines, but no one knows how to play them.
Nubian Lyre #1999209 - <em>Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> Nubian musicians brought their traditional lyre to the countries they traveled to, voluntarily or forcibly. Pictured here is an enslaved Nubian playing the lyre in North Africa.
The Janjira Fortress #13_31 - Photographer: © Iyer Rajgopal <p> </p> <a class="video-launcher" href="video.php?name=SIDDI%2520DYNASTY%2520IN%2520JANJIRA.f4v">Click here to view video of Janjira.</a> <em>From Africa to India: Sidi Music in the Indian Ocean Diaspora</em>. © Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, 2003 <p> </p> The island of Janjira (from <em>jazeera</em>, island or peninsula in Arabic) was a formidable fortress entirely surrounded by large walls with 22 rounded bastions. It was also known as Habsan (from Habsha, Ethiopia).
Janjira #13_22 - Photographer: © Iyer Rajgopal <p> </p> The first African to be posted at Janjira was Sidi Ambar Sainak, appointed by Malik Ambar in 1617. In 1621 he became the first independent <em>nawab</em> (prince, from the Arabic <em>naib</em>, or deputy) of Janjira and reigned until his death in 1642. The fortress was built between 1701 and 1728. Its construction was financed by the African nawab Sidi Surur II, formerly an officer. The State of Janjira covered an area of about 325 square miles, part on the island and part on the mainland. The Siddis, who were all related to the nawab, lived on the island. A British official wrote in 1883, “They are either landholders or state servants, and, except a few who are poor, are generally well-to-do and able to meet special charges. They are Sunnis of the Hanufi [sic] school, and, except a few of the younger men, are religious and careful to say the daily prayers.”
Cannons on Janjira #198_334 - Photographer: © Akshay Charegaonkar, Mumbai, India <p> </p> Well-conceived and well-defended, Janjira was never conquered. Originally, the fort counted 572 cannons; most were made in India, and seven came from various European countries. Siddi rule over the island lasted 330 years. It was inhabited until 1972.
Janjira #13_23 - Photographer: © Himanshu Sarpotdar <p> </p> There were two Muslim and one Hindu neighborhoods, which contained hundreds of houses. “The Sidis deck their walls with swords, shields, lances, muskets, guns, knives, and daggers. Most well-to-do families have male and female servants, and a stock of cows, buffaloes, goats, and bullocks. Rich families have four to eight bondsmen and bondswomen, generally the children of poor Hindus who have been bought and made Musalmans. These bondsmen and bondswomen are not hereditary and they can at their pleasure leave their master who feeds them and clothes them.”—<em>Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, 1883.</em>
Janjira Architecture #13_24 - Photographer: © Akshay Charegaonkar, Mumbai, India <p> </p> Janjira is considered one of the best specimens of naval fort architecture. Its inner buildings that housed a full court and garrison were powerful and elegant. Plaques with inscriptions in Persian to the glory of the nawabs decorated some walls. The fort had a grand entrance, a secret exit door and underground passages.
Janjira Water Supply #13_25 - Photographer: © Iyer Rajgopal <p> </p> The Siddis had made their island self-sufficient. Their water needs were fulfilled by two reservoirs of fresh water.
The Palace on Janjira #13_26 - Photographer: © Himanshu Sarpotdar The large, fortress-like structure erected on a knoll was the palace of the nawab. It was built around 1707. The walls and floors of several rooms were decorated with colored glass.
Jamal Masjid (Mosque) #13_27 - Photographer: © Pradosh Biswas <p> </p> There were four mosques on the island. One was the royal mosque and another was reserved for visitors. The Jama Masjid (white building), located by a water reservoir, was the main mosque.
Janjira Style #13_28 - Photographer: © Himanshu Sarpotdar <p> </p> This ornamented door shows the elegance of the various buildings on Janjira.
Tombs on Janjira #13_29 - Photographer: © Pradosh Biswas <p> </p> These tombs of nawabs and noblemen are located opposite the Jamal Masjid.
Tomb of Sidi Surur Khan #198_335 - Photographer: © John K. Davies <p> </p> Sidi Surur II was chosen as the nawab of Janjira in 1707. Prior to his appointment, he was in charge of another fort—west of the island—that had been overtaken by the Siddis. With the money raised for the construction of the fort, he built this tomb at Khokri, a mosque in Rajpuri and a mansion on Janjira for his daughter. Next to his tomb are the smaller tombs of Sidi Qasim Khan and his brother Sidi Khairiyat Khan; the latter was the commander of the Siddi army and the nawab of Janjira from the 1670s until his death in 1696.
The Nawabs of Sachin and Janjira, 1930 #12_41 - <em>Collection of Kenneth and Joyce Robbins.</em> <p> </p> Janjira’s population in 1941 was more than 103,000, 82 percent of whom were Hindus and 17 percent Muslims. The African descendants were all related to the king. Several hundred Jews (Bene Israel) also lived in the kingdom. This picture was taken during the installation of Haider Khan (on the throne with a footstool) as nawab of Sachin; the 22nd nawab of Janjira, Sidi Mohammed Khan III, is the fourth man seated from the right.
The Entrance of the Palace of the Nawab of Janjira #13_42 - Photographer: © Khalil Sawant <p> </p> After leaving the island of Janjira, the nawabs settled in Murud on the mainland. Their Ahmad Ganj Palace was built in 1904. The grounds cover 45 acres and hold a mosque, the tombs of the previous rulers, and a number of other structures (some of which no longer exist) such as staff and servants’ apartments, nursery, dispensary, tennis court and swimming pool.
The Palace of the Nawab of Janjira #13_41 - Photographer: © Khalil Sawant <p> </p> The palace is built on a cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea. Its Turkish architect designed it so that it appears to be a different structure depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The palace itself is more than 20,000 square feet, and an extension covers more than 10,000 square feet. The palace, with its magnificent rooms, stained glass ceiling, marble staircases and unique decorations is still inhabited by the nawab family.
Musician in India #psnypl_dan_1767 - <em>Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> Between 1770 and 1834, more than 6,200 people from Mozambique were transported to Diu and Daman in Gujarat, and to Goa, the Portuguese enclave. Between 1830 and 1875 Africans liberated from slave ships were sent to Surat and Mumbai—half the Africans in that city worked in the maritime professions—and some migrated to Hyderabad to the southeast, where an African Cavalry Guard was formed in 1863.
Siddis, Karnataka #13_34 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> Many East Africans—mostly from Mozambique—brought by the Portuguese to Goa on the western coast of India escaped from slavery and migrated to the south. They took refuge in the remote Western Ghats mountains of Northern Karnataka. Others fled to the Muslim areas where the men could enroll in the armies and navies and rise through the ranks. Siddi rulers like Malik Ambar welcomed them. The exodus was such that the Portuguese signed contracts with some rulers, who were to return the runaways or pay their value.
Siddi Woman #13_47 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> <a class="video-launcher" href="video.php?name=Voices%2520of%2520the%2520Sidis_Ancestral%2520Links%2520I.f4v">Click here to view videos of a Siddi family in Mumbai.</a> <p> </p> <em>Voices of the Sidis: Ancestral Links</em>. © Beheroze Shroff, 2005. <p> </p> Siddis—also called Habshi, Kaphri or African—number about 50,000 in India. It is estimated that 18,000 live in the state of Karnataka, 10,000 in Gujarat and 12,000 in Andhra Pradesh (mostly in Hyderabad). Many Muslim Siddis left after Indian independence in 1947 and settled in Pakistan.
Siddi Family, Karnataka #12_20 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> Many Siddis do not know much about their origin, but an elder explained: “A long time ago a Hindu king brought my ancestors here from a place called Africa. The Hindu king wanted to have strong and hardworking men to work his property and women to work in his many houses. So he sent ships beyond the horizon and brought our ancestors. Then the Portuguese came and brought Siddis to Goa to work in their houses. Then the British came with more Siddis from Africa to work in their army and fight against the Indians. When they had a chance our forebears fled from Goa and Bombay and settled here and in other parts of Uttara Kannada.”—Charles Camara, “The Siddis of Uttara Kannada” in Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy and Edward A. Alpers, eds., <em>Sidis and Scholars</em>.
Siddi Family #12_22 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> The Siddis of Karnataka are Muslims or Catholics and a few are Hindus. Marriages across religions are common. The Hindus trace their ancestry to Africans brought by Arab traders and sold to high-caste Hindus. They place themselves in the caste system, below some castes and above others. The Muslims trace their origin to the African-Indian kingdom of Bijapur in the Deccan, while the Catholics trace theirs to Goa via the Portuguese slave trade from Mozambique.
Affirmative Action #12_23 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> The Siddis who live in the forests and high plains south of Goa are mostly farmers. Since 2003, they are part of the “Scheduled Tribes,” ethnic communities who qualify for special educational and economic assistance, a type of affirmative action.
Quilter, Karnataka #12_24 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> The Siddis have adopted and adapted many cultural aspects of the Indian peoples with whom they have lived for generations. They have also retained and transformed certain cultural and artistic traditions from Africa.
Siiddi Quilt #12_25 - Photographer: © Henry Drewal <p> </p> Siddi women in Karnataka are renowned for their quilts. A Siddi quilt (<em>kawandi</em>) is made with the family’s discarded clothes. Very colorful and dynamic, the quilts are visually striking.
A Siddi Family in Gujarat #13_43 - Photographer: © Raveesh Vyas <a class="video-launcher" href="video.php?name=V001_MMV58334_TEN_MOV-1.flv">Click here to see a video of Siddis in Gujarat</a> <p> </p> AFP <p> </p> In Gujarat, some Siddis live in the Gir forest. A large part of their traditional land has been seized and turned into a national park. This man used a <em>chhakda </em>to transport his family to the town of Saurashtra during a Muslim festival.
Monkey Tamer, Colombo #1996792 - <em>Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> As early as the fifth century, Ethiopians traveled to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and traded in Matota in the northwestern part of the island; but Africans were forcibly settled there during the Portuguese, Dutch and British eras starting in 1505. In the Portuguese period, they came mostly from Mozambique. Many were also transported from Goa, on the western coast of India. Slavery was abolished in the 1820s but continued until at least 1845.
Boxer James Morka #1996791 - <em>Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> In the 14th century, the ruler of Colombo employed 500 Ethiopian soldiers. During the Dutch and British periods Africans from Madagascar and the East African Coast were introduced into Sri Lanka. They assisted the Portuguese in seizing or controlling the strategic ports of the Indian Ocean, beginning with those in Sri Lanka. About 4,000 Africans built the fortress of Colombo in the late 17th century.
Afro-Sri Lankan #1996790 - <em>Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.</em> <p> </p> Historical records indicate that in the 19th century 874 African soldiers served in the 3rd and 4th Ceylon regiments. In 1865, when the 3rd Ceylon Regiment’s detachment in Puttalam was disbanded, soldiers from the African garrison were given plots of land in the area, where they retired.
Kaffir Women #12_53 - Photographer: © Leah Worthington <p> </p> Click here to view a video of a Kaffir community in Sri Lanka. <em>Kaffir Culture</em>, © Kannan Arunasalam <p> </p> <a title="http://vimeo.com/7234191" class="video-launcher" href="/video-external.php" target="_blank">http://vimeo.com/7234191</a> <p> </p> Although Kaffir, meaning “unbeliever” in Arabic, is a derogatory term in Africa, Afro-Sri Lankans use it to refer to themselves. This group of women are from the community of Sirambiyadiya in the Puttalam District in northwest Sri Lanka.
Kaffir Woman #12_51 - Photographer: © Leah Worthington Afro-Sri Lankans spoke Indo-Portuguese, a Creole born during the Portuguese time. They retained it during the Dutch and British periods and have switched to Sinhala and Tamil with independence and the generalization of formal education.
Kaffir Singer #12_52 - Photographer: © Leah Worthington The popular Sri Lankan dance called Kaffrinha Baila is a direct result of the historic contact between the Kaffirs, Portuguese and Sinhalese. Today, the music of the Afro-Sri Lankans is enjoying great success among the larger population made up primarily of Sinhalese, Tamil and Vedda.