BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY Africa and the WorldAfricans in India
From Africa to India
Sidis on the Island of JanjiraSidis arrived on the island of Janjira in the 1400s. What is most remarkable about this community is that from 1616-1760, they were one of several powerful groups of sailors on the west coast of India. The Sidis defeated British, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Indian ships and were feared because they raided unsuspecting ships. In 1759, however, the British finally took the Island of Janjia from the Sidis.
Sidis, the representatives of Habshi or Abyssinian slaves and soldiers of fortune are found … in Janjira island. They number 258 and rank next in importance to Konkanis. Most of them are relations of the Nawab or head of the state, and have inherited state land grants or allowances. They speak Hindustani and Kokani both at home and abroad. They are tall, strong and well made, with good features and brown or wheat skins. The men shave the head and wear the beard though their faces have generally little hair. The women, who are like the men in appearance, never appear in public and add nothing to the family income …. Rich Sidis generally deck their houses with swords, shields, lances, muskets, knives, and daggers hung on the walls from wooden pegs. As a class, they are luxurious, hot-tempered, and dishonest, but sober and thrifty. They are either landholders or state servants, and, except a few who are poor, are generally well-to-do and able to meet special changes.
The Slave Trade and After
However, trading in slaves continued for decades. The British attempted to find employment for slaves that had been released and transported some back to Africa. Many freed slaves formed communities. One of these was called Siddi Risala, and this community is still in existence today. It is located in the Hyderabad province of India.