Afro-Abkhazians or Abkhazians of African Descent are African descendants who are Abkhazians. They can be found at the mouth of the Kodori River and nearby villages of Chlou,Agdarra, Merkulov, and Pokvesh.
There are several theories as to how the Afro-Abkhazian came to Abkhazia. One theory is they were an ancient prescence. Black Abkhazians descended from Colchis brought by Pharaoh Sesotris. Accounts abound of the presence of black people in the region, before Turkish control. Proponents of this theory usually, point to the Illiad, the Bible, Herodotus's Histories, Pindar, and writings of the Church Fathers St. Jerome and Sephonius to prove their case.
From their own accounts, black Abkhazians say they were brought to the region by Abkhazian and Turkish noblemen as slaves between the 16th and 18th century, when the Black Sea coast was part of the Ottoman Empire. Abkhazian King Shervashidze is known to have numerous black slaves. So did Turkish noblemen, when the Black Sea coast was part of the Ottoman Empire. Other descendants say they were descended from Sudanese mercenaries, who abandon the Turkish military in the latter part of the 19th century and moved in the area.
Still, the Black Sea coast was always a meeting hub of different cultures--Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Genoes--engaged in trade. All these nations owned trading post in the region, selling slaves from ancient to more recent times. Black Abkhazians could have arrive as slaves and increase in numbers during the 16th and 18th century.
Afro-Abkhazians have assimiliated Abkhazian culture. They dress like other Abkhazians and speak the Abkhazian language, as well as Russian.
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