Member of Siddi community nominated to the Karnataka Legislative Council: A community with African ancestry – Karnataka

Shantharam Budna Siddi | Read the full article >>
Photo © Photo: Twitter/@adarshahgd

Shantharam Budna Siddi, from the Siddi [Sidhi] community of Karnataka which traces its roots to Africa, has been nominated to the Karnataka Legislative Council by Governor Vajubhai Vala. This is the first time that the community will be represented in the legislature. […]

According to him, the Siddi community traces its roots to Africa, somewhere in Mozambique and Kenya whom the Portuguese had trafficked as slaves to India along the coasts of the Western Ghats.

The Portuguese left after India got independence and the Siddi community started dwelling in the deep forests of Western Ghats.

“We are found only in Mumbai, Goa and the Western Ghats of Karnataka,” Siddi told PTI.

To a question, he said he has no information about the roots or the village his ancestors belonged to but somehow the community managed to save their language.

The language, according to Siddi, is a mixture of Konkani-Marathi, which also has some words, which is neither Konkani, Marathi or even Sanskrit. […]

“I am not thinking of the Siddi community alone, I am equally concerned about the entire tribal community of the state,” Siddi said.

There are 54 tribal communities and all of them confront different challenges, said Siddi, adding that there was a need to address it collectively at the different levels of administration.

Siddi is equally concerned about many other communities who are living in subhuman conditions but have not been categorised as tribals. […]

Source: “Karnataka: Shantharam Budna Siddi Becomes First Siddi Legislator”, PTI/ 25 July 2020
Date visited: 25 July 2020

The labels like Siddis, habshis are embedded in Indian local, state and national constructs such as records that socially assign. It is interesting to see the racial term Siddi emerged as a surname in order to address their own needs now that they have been granted Scheduled Tribe status in Karnataka since 2003. They kept their surnames Siddi though it is a racial term. And the term Habsi/Hafsi/habshi is considered an insult/abusing word in India .

Their major economic resources are agricultural land and the western ghat forest. Their main source of livelihood is agricultural laborers. Few among them own pieces of land while others live on encroached lands in order to grow paddy and sugarcane. Few of the men are watchmen security officers, truck drivers, masons, logs cutters, and other such day laborers. […]

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Source: buDa- folklore: Siddis of Karnataka and the Habshis from Abyssinia … -The Lost African Tribe
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Siddi Dance-Damami Kunita from Karntaka siddis

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