Multi-media exhibition - Africans in India

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In NYC, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Latimer/Edison Gallery exhibits an event on “Africans in India: from slaves to generals and rulers”. This includes a multimedia application and a large range of photographies.

Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka. Back in the Middle Age, some Africans were even taken to Turkey, Palestine, Pakistan, China, Japan and Indonesia.

Pakistan itself 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.

Over the centuries, East Africans have greatly distinguished themselves in India as generals, commanders, admirals, architects, prime ministers, and rulers. They have written a story unparalleled in the rest of the world: that of enslaved Africans attaining the pinnacle of military and political authority.

Known as Habshis (Abyssinians) and Sidis, they have left an impressive historical and architectural legacy that attest to their determination, skills, and intellectual, cultural, military and political savvy.

This exhibition, the first of its kind, retraces—in over 100 photographic reproductions of paintings and contemporary photographs—the lives and achievements of a few of the many talented and prominent Sidis of yesterday.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf and Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins. The event is open now through to Saturday, July 6, 2013.

For more information on Africans in India, visit the rich multi-media online exhibition ‘The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World’ .