From Africa… to India: Sidi Music in the Indian Ocean Diaspora

by Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy
74 min., 2003

Sidis descend from Africans who sailed across the Indian Ocean to the west coast of India over many centuries. This documentary project explores the expressions of their Indian and African cultural heritage.

  • The video begins in the Sidi Fort at Janjira Island, built during the heyday of Sidi powers in the Mughal period.
  • It then surveys the music and dances of African-Indian men, women, and children in Karnataka, Hyderabad, Bombay, and Gujarat.
  • Exciting footage of ritual events shows the stages of music during ecstatic trance, exorcism, and celebratory rites, when both male and female Sidi Sufi saints are invoked through euphoric rhythms, voices, and communal dances.
  • Musical instruments such as footed drums, coconut rattles, armpit-held drums, and braced musical bows show the retention of African musical practices.
  • In excerpts from a conference for Sidis and scholars, Sidis present their own views on their history, contemporary issues, and future prospects.
  • The film concludes with exciting concert footage from the first international Sidi tour of England and Wales in 2002.

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