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It is not very well known that there have been Africans living in India for 700 years.
They are known as “Siddi” in Gujarat. They arrived in India as slaves to the Maharajahs and Nawabs in the 13th century. There were also others who came as traders or merchants and sailors, long before the first slave ships started supplying black slaves to the Americas. They were in great demand as they proved to be trusted servants and became something of a status symbol.
Unlike the slaves that went to America, these African slaves kept a very close, diffused and segregated circle, choosing to marry only among themselves and living within their own communities, in order to retain their ethnic purity.
Along the way, they lost their language, culture and the knowledge of their country’s lore. However they have kept African traits and certain forms of rites and rituals of worship. Also along the way, they converted to Islam. There are about 25,000 of them now living in the state of Gujarat. They still look African but speak local language (Gujarati) and are Indian citizens.
My focus in this piece of work is on photographing Siddi children in the tribal village of “Jamboor” in Gujarat. This village is located on the outskirts of Gir National Park (the only place in world, outside Africa, where Lions are found in their natural habitat).
This work forms part of a larger body of work based on my style of Portraits.