As Barack Hussein Obama was being sworn in as President of the United States of America in Washington DC on Tuesday night,a large group of men and women in Gir cheered for the first African-American President of the world’s superpower.
These are the Sidis,descendants of African slaves brought to Gujarat centuries ago,now living in Zambur village in the interior of Gir forest.
They had no TV to watch Obama’s swearing in,but had only heard of the scheduled time. Nevertheless,they danced through the whole of Tuesday night and offered fervent prayers for the success of their “own man”.
Drums played distinctly African rhythms and so were the dances. Intermittently,the crowd offered dua (prayer) for Obama. The celebration was at the Nagarchi Pir Dargah.
“It is a never before moment for us. We are overjoyed” said Iqbal Bagas,a Sidi youth. Zinka Patel alias Ahmedbhai Makwana,the present chief of the Sidi tribe,said,”Obama shares our African roots. He is our man,and he is now ruling the world’s only superpower. Once upon a time we Sidis were slaves too. We were almost untouchables in most parts of the world. This is a great moment for us,as our man has gone that far.”
Over five thousand Sidis reside in Junagadh district. Most of them live in Talala,Zambur,Shirwan and Chitrawad villages in the Gir forest.