Africa, India and royalty: The Hindu – Mobile edition

Africa, India and royalty: The Hindu – Mobile edition – The exhibition “Africans in India — A Rediscovery”, on view at the Southern Regional Centre of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), remembers their forgotten legacy. The exhibition has been curated by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf and Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library. The exhibition reveals how the African legacy in India begins even before the Mughal period in the 1400s. Beginning as slaves migrating from East African regions around Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Africans rose up the social ladder to become generals, commanders, admirals, prime ministers, rulers and architects, largely known as Sidis or Habshis. “The exhibition portrays how a community that travelled across the globe and came to India thrived here, politically, culturally and socially. Most of the immigrants came as slaves and some of them reached high offices in the army, some even became rulers,” says Dr. Mangalam Swaminathan, Programme Director, IGNCA, New Delhi. According to Mangalam, this aspect of heritage isn’t widely known because of lack of information and research. “Even this exhibit, according to curator Sylvianne is only a fraction of the material lying scattered,” she adds. Through photographic reproductions of paintings from several collections across U.K. and U.S.A., the exhibition thematically displays several significant milestones of this heritage captured in diverse paintings spanning across eras. The exhibition showcases the role played by the Africans in four major kingdoms in the regions of Bengal, Deccan, Sachin and Janjira.

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