Friday, October 7, 2011

Siddi Hut

Siddi Tribe Community Hut
Siddi Hut
                                                          Most of siddi people lives in  this kind of hut 

Monday, April 11, 2011


Progress made so far:
The initiative began in the month of September 2010. Mohan Siddi began the process immediately after completion of his Master of Social Work from Bangalore University; he decided to devote his professional skills for the development of his own Siddi community. A brief note on the progress made during this period is given below;  
1. Initially a small study was undertaken in couple of villages of Ankola, Yellapur, Mundgod and Haliyal taluks to have first hand information and comprehensive understanding of real life situation. During the period of the study interaction with different age groups both at individual and in group held on varied issues related all spheres of lives of siddis revealed the gravity of situation and gave insights into nature extent of problems which have resulted in holding wide range of consultations. 
2. Series of intensive consultations were held with leaders & members of Siddi community in the villages, where in the members expressed the need for an independent organization of siddis to avoid dependency on other organizations and NGOs also to work on availing education for children, to resist injustice and human rights violations, access to government schemes, to handle police harassment, to fights against atrocities through legal interventions, getting bail, etc.
3. A Society called Siddi Jana Vikas Sangh as formal identity with members of Siddi Community belongs to Hindu, Islam & Christianity has been registered under Karnataka Societies Registration Act in the month of December 2010. The society has three women and four men in the society and all are educated and well informed about the situation of siddis.
4. Conduced a quick survey to get to know the number of dropouts, reasons for it and identify educated youth and their occupation after completion of their education in 28 villages of Yallapur, Mundgod, Ankola and Haliyal. The survey revealed that there were 23 youth below 15 years dropped out of school, all of them are still interested in continuing studies if opportunities are provided and the remaining 8 do not want to pursue their studies. The reasons for discontinuing studies economic problems, lack of interest in studies & parent’s ill health resulted in their discontinuing education.    

Similarly, of the 58 educated youth identified in the survey 46 expressed that they are still interested in continuing studies if opportunities are provided. It is disheartening to note that these youth after completion of their education, remain in their villages and working as coolies in agriculture fields, construction workers, forest nursery & bamboo cutting, loading & unloading, processing of areca nut, road formation under contractors, in case if they do not have any work they go to forest to collect forest produce. Because of non availability of jobs, the parents are discouraging their children not to pursue studies.  42 youth revealed that they discontinue their studies because of economic problems, one said that he has not got seat & discontinued studies. This shows that there is a need for proper guidance and support to get opportunities either job or self employment.

5. Detected a very big cheating incidence of Siddis by Syndicate Bank manager, Ankola branch, exposed the issue resulted in harassment by Bank manager & police, led to the illegal arrest of Siddi leader Mr. Beneth Siddi, Kutchgoan, Yallapur, taluk jailed for a week, filed a non-bailable case. With the help & intervention of Citizen’s Committee for Social Justice and filed complaint against Bank Manager with Syndicate Bank head office, Human rights Commission, and sought the legal assistance form Alternative Law Forum & got the anticipatory bail from High Court, subsequently from bail from District court and still fighting against cheating case pending in the District court.

6. Picked up & fighting to reclaim the 5 acres of land which was purchased by Ashirvad, Bangalore for the development of Siddi community, later handed over the land to a Committee of Siddis has been taken over by the Revenue department giving procedural deviations & nonpayment of fine as reason without the knowledge of Siddi Committee and allotted the same land to private a party. This incidence land alienation was located by the Siddi Jan Vikas Society and attempt is being made to reclaim the land from the government.

7. An incidence of encroachment of land belong to Louis Siddi by local dominant community was detected in Pansuli, Joida taluk, a complaint has been registered with police on the guidance of Alternative Law Forum & Citizen’s Committee for Social Justice, and further encroachment prevented for the time being and the process to reclaiming the land by producing relevant documents is in progress. 

8. Geetha Siddi a 7 years old child was suffering serious abdominal complex disease very badly needed an operation was found during the visits to villages, the parents were very poor did not have the money for this and did not know where to get treatment. It was at this stage, the society members intervened and mobilized resources from various sources and managed to get her operated in Goa, the child is out of danger without this intervention the child would have died.

9. As usual the Siddi like other backward communities are very weak in English subject, many Siddi students failed in english and used discontinue studies. It is at this stage, the Society intervened and organized a Spoken English class with help of Holy Cross Church, Minahalli. The residential English coaching class for twenty Siddi children for two months is in progress. The resources for this mobilized from the church. It is proposed to mobilize resources for such coaching classes from the department of Social Welfare & from other sources in future and coach large number of children in English, science and mathematics.   

10. In addition to the above, the members of the society had come across different types of youth without any guidance would have discontinued their education, such incidences have been identified and put them on track. Mr. Rehaman Siddi after completion of his 12th standard has been guided to seek admission for Batchlor of Pharmacy with hostel facility in Bangalore. Mr. Pinto Siddi, discontinued his studies 9th standard has been identified, persuaded him & parents to send him back for studies and he is studying in 9th standard in Tamil Nadu. Mrs. Mankali Siddi, aged about 80 years without any any children was orphan was begging and living on her own, the members of society was able to get her Anthyodaya card and application for oldage pension submitted which as been approved, she will get pension and manage on her own with that money not by begging, are some of the examples of individual assistance extended by the members of the society in a very short span of time.

11. The members of the Society made attempt to send Siddi youth to a selection camp being organized by Sport Authority of India in Bangalore to select candidates for intensive training for Judo. The authorities have agreed to have a camp for two days at the cost of candidates, the enrollment application as already submitted, mobilizing travel and food cost for candidates.

12. Established organized contacts and networking with Alternative Law Forum and seeking legal advice in handling cases filed against Siddis and necessary support in different aspects. This has become biggest strength and moral support for the society to establish claims as a matter of right.

13. Sought help, support and assistance from Citizen’s Committee for Social Justice, Bangalore in terms understanding issues in ideological perspective, organizing community, research, investigation, strategies to deal with problems including registration and management of society. In fact, for the time being their office has become the secretariat of Siddis or state unit of Siddis in Bangalore access this space even for stay and using other facilities of the office. This office has become centre of spirit and guiding force for all our ventures being planned.

The society is looking for help, assistance & support to initiate action for translating the short term objectives in to reality from your organization initially on the following;
  1. To conduct a comprehensive survey of siddi families in Karnataka as a first step to bring all of them together in an organized manner.
  2. To ensure enrollment of children in schools convincing parents and sustain them in schools simultaneously encourage school dropouts to continue their education by way of organizing coaching classes also revive coaching talented youth with sports skills
  3. To assist those who complete their education end up doing coolie in the villages to get employment or pursue self employment for their livelihood.

Mohan Ganapati Siddi
Siddi Janavikas Sangha, Yallapur,
Uttara Kannada District

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spoken English Class for Siddi youth

Spoken  English class  conducted by Mr. Ramnath siddi Who is  the fitst  Graduate from the community
   M..Ed  and  Mr. Mohansiddi  who is the first Graduate of MSW  from the Siddi community They have contributed among them  self’s  and voluntarily organized the summer class for 45 siddi educated youths along with the food and  Accommodation 90% of them are now fluently able to speak and write English this is the first spoken english class in the history of Siddis.

Spoken English with the Drama. 
                                                                    Class Room
Mr. Ramnath  Siddi and  Mr.Mohan Siddi from the( R)

Critical Life of siddis (Indian Africans ) In Karnataka, India.

            Kamala Siddi, an international athlete from Manchikeri performed excellently well won one gold, two silver in Asian games and one bonze in Olympics, presently work in Railways, Phillip from Haliyal won gold medal in 45 KM marathon run in national level athletic meet, Mary Siddi from Jathaga Hosur won 8 gold medals in national games, David Ghadi won gold medal in Judo at national level competition, Suresh Siddi from Hunisotikoppa in swimming, Mala Siddi from D Kallalli in running, Kamrekar from Gardovalli in boxing, Agnel from Wada in Judo also won Ekalvya Award, Juje Siddi from Hosur in foot ball and Luis Siddi from the same village in long & high jump, Roopa Nagesh Siddi from D Kallahalli in weight lifting, Francis Siddi from Thottilagundi in marathon run like this many more gave excellent performances in sports & brought very big name & fame to Karavali, Karnataka & the country. The Siddi Community is considered as Treasury of sports potentials then.   
But now Siddi names are not being heard in sports why? Is a big question
About Siddi community
      The siddi are tribes, the community scattered across the country but concentrated mainly in Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh and very few families live in other parts of this country. The Uttara Kannad Gazetteer reported (page 189) that many ran away Negro slaves from Goa settled down in Haliyal & Supa (presently known as Joida) Taluks and they are termed as Siddis.
        “Siddis are Decedents of African Negros, who were brought to India mainly by Arabs, the Portuguese and the Dutch. They are chiefly found in the forest areas of Ankola, Mundgod, Haliyal and Yallapur taluks. They live in small clusters constituting settlement of a villages or an independent settlement. Their occupation is agriculture, they are also engaged in harvesting honey and hunting some of them are forest laborers, they are superior wrestlers. They worship Nysa halli devaru, Atchakanyeyaru, hanumantha, basavanna, dyamavva, yellamma, Siddarameswara. They worship their agricultural implements; they are the followers of swarnavalli muth of Sonda. Havyaka Brahmins are invited to officiate as priests in their religious ceremonies. They speak marati, mixture of marati, Konkani and kannada. Widow marriages are prevalent among them, divorce is permitted. They bury the dead and recently some cremate. Siddi Muslims are Sunnis and form a separate section among Muslims, they reincarnate of Babaghor said to be disciple of Prophet Mohammad, they are not allowed to have marital relationship with local Muslims, they also speak Urdu among them, mulla is the head of the settlement above the mulla is a Khazi who is the local.
      Siddi Christians are Catholics they do not have intimate relationship with local Christians. They worship hiriyaru (elders) they speak Konkani & Kannada.”  This in general speaks about them.
      There is no authentic official source of information regarding their population and their socio-economic condition, quality of life and the problems being faced. However, The Siddis are found in Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharastra, Andhra Pradesesh, Goa and Tamil Nadu. It is estimated that the total population of is about 1.5 lakh in the country, in Karnataka around 35000.
      In Karnataka, the Siddis are found in Uttara Kannada, Dharwad and Belgaum districts, scattered in villages and interior forests, inaccessible to each other even occasionally.
      The Siddis biologically distinct community belong African Negro clan with strong physic & stamina, curly hair with black complexions, well known for honest, hard working, tolerant, ability thrive with any adverse condition with nature loving & friendly character.
      Siddis have their own unique tribal cultural characteristics, profess & practice different religions such as Hindu, Islam and Christianity. Though, divided into different religions a few cultural practices & ritual such as remembering elders (hireru / hiriyaru) once a year. Men wear lungis / dhotis, shirts and women wear sari and blouse. Though the rituals followed according to the respective religion celebrated in the presence of their respective religious leaders, after that they celebrate according to their traditional customs, & their marriage rituals & customs are almost common. Irrespective of their respective religion all most all siddis are devotees of Yallamma openly or perform pooja at home. All three groups speak different languages such as Konkani, Urdu, Marati mix, however both men & women speak two languages. Damam, Duf, Gumte rhythmic musical instruments are being used by all siddis, both men & women together perform dance for all instruments. All three belong to Siddi clan and clan affinity quite strong yet there is no single ritual that brings all three groups together is seen as big gap which prevent them to come together as a community, seek mutual help, assistance & solidarity. They live & lead more individualistic life itself has become weakness & left them vulnerable. Even, their respective religious groups have not made any significant contribution to address the issues of siddis.
      A few sensible leaders and youth within the Siddi community observed that many NGOs, sometime Christian groups / missionaries and Hinduthva groups have taken advantage of this weakness organized them to meet according to their whims & fancies. In fact a few Siddi leaders have been associated for a long time with Vanavasi Kalyana Samsthe, a branch of RSS, none of these have made effort to bring all three groups together, if fact there were several NGOs prepared projects for the development of Siddis according to their needs, which did not help Siddis much. Siddis are now conscious and careful of such organizations, slowly organizing themselves to bring all Siddis culturally together to establish independent identity.    
      Siddis are socially most backward community mostly settled in villages, they are being treated on par with dalits but there is no practice of untouchability, however, the upper castes and a few backward communities at the individual house level observe similar practice. They are also being invited to functions & ceremonies such as marriage, etc, food will be served separately and they will be made to clean vessels & floor after serving the food. The majority of siddis are illiterates, though the trend of sending their children to schools increased, the rate of school dropout on the increase, as usual girls are not encouraged to pursue education after reaching puberty in all three religion, the most restricted among them are Muslims girls. Wide spread ragging because of their distinct physical feature often one of the reasons for discontinuation of their education. Practice of child marriage at the age of 14-15 years of age is prevalent & common; this is one of the reasons for girls discontinuing their education. Widow remarriage permitted and divorce is allowed. Almost 90% of the men & 25% women are alcoholic, resulted in spending large portion of their income on this leading to ill health, poverty, violence on women, neglecting children; borrow money on exorbitant rate of interest, etc, found in common. The illiteracy, school dropout rate, child marriages, child abuse, neglecting girl child education, teasing Siddi children in schools and social discrimination on the basis of race still continued. It is in this context the educated youth within Siddi community realized and began planning for intervention to address their issues.
      The continuous efforts & persuasion of Siddi Sangha, the Government of Karnataka, recognized their tribal characteristics and social economic backwardness, accorded Scheduled Tribe status which facilitates them to access to certain extra benefits. This is a significant development
      The economic condition of Siddi found different & distinct, they live in forest and non forest areas, majority to the extent of 75% of landless families engaged in different occupations for livelihood such as both male & female engaged in collecting minor forest products (honey, dalchinni, lavanga, tamarind, pepper, soft gum, etc), traditional occupations such as basket weaving, preparing bamboo chairs, cots, etc, all these items collected / prepared with hard labour being sold to local merchants for very less price because of absence of market facilities. The next alternative work is daily wages, agriculture work, construction work, fishing all these are seasonal in nature and not sustainable, income from all these are not enough to meet the day today needs, leading to borrow loan with exorbitant interest from a local money lenders. They work for low wages, different wages for men (Rs.50) & women (Rs.35), large sections work as coolies, few are bonded labourers, child labour also prevalent. A very few other occupations pursued by men are tractor, car, truck driving, work in boats, the women in domestic work, etc. It is because of seasonal employment, other reasons including low wages few families migrate to other nearer cities in Goa, Maharastra & Udupi, Mangalore sometimes Bangalore, etc, such migrants mostly work in building construction, forms, mutton stalls and women work as domestic servants, garment assistants, etc. They earn little more in cities, men earn Rs. 150 to 175 per day and the women earn Rs. 80 to Rs. 100. With this money, when they come back home repay the loan with interest. The helplessness of siddis have been encashed as bonded labour, payment of low coolie, extracting long hours of work, even their children were made to to work in their house or fields. They have been exploited by purchasing their minor forest products at lowest rate by middlemen & sell the same for higher rates. The fruit of their hard work is being enjoyed by others. 
Mohan siddi

Histrory of siddi (Indian Africans)

                      The majority of the Siddis in Karnataka are descendants of Siddis slaves who were brought from East Africa (mostly Mozambique)  Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Bemba, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, Nigeria, and other place from Africa to Goa by the Portuguese, British and the Arabs between the 16th and 19th centuries. Mozambique in Africa was under the control of the Portuguese and hence it was easy for them to bring these Africans to Goa as slaves.
During the GOAN Inquisition, some of these slaves were freed and some escaped into the forests of the neighboring Karnataka state.
While most of them were victims of slave trade, some of them also were imported by the Nawabs in the 15th-16th centuries as military mercenaries. Others were sailors on the trade routes to the east. At this period, slaves were generally used in European countries and they were even auctioned in public.  Some of these slaves who were unable to bear the torture of the Portuguese escaped from Goa and entered into north Karnataka forests of Sirsi, Yellapur, etc. It was a black spot on civilization but the Portuguese resorted to it without inhibition. The word Siddi means a laborer and these Negroes who worked as laborers came to be referred to as Siddis meaning laborers. After spreading themselves in the forests of Karnataka, they adopted various religions such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Thus there are Hindu Siddis, Muslim Siddis and Christian Siddis. If a Siddi worked as laborers in a Hindu family, he had no hesitation in adopting Hinduism. This is the case with other religions also. Thus they adopted themselves easily to the new social and religious environment. That is why they speak a mixed dialect of Marathi, Kannada and Konkani. Both men and women dress according to the local practice like dhoti and sari.
       The siddi are tribes of African descendants that has made Karnataka their home for the past 400 years, with a population of close to 400,000 people across India, of which more than a third live in Karnataka state. In Karnataka they are concentrated around Yellapur, Haliyal, Ankola, Joida, Mundgoad and Sirsi taluk of Uttara Kannada and in Khanapur of Belgaum and Kalagatgi of Dharwad district. Their language is a mixture of Konkani and Marathi, but they also speak Kannada.  They practice Agricultural activities on very small farms only for home consumption, not enough for commercial activities and many are landless farmers.