Sheedi (Afro-Pakistanis) are Pakistanis of African descent. The term Sheedi comes from the Arabic word for lord. They are estimated to be one and a half million. They can be found mainly in the area of Karachi, Lyari, Badin, Tando Bago, and Hyderabad but are scattered all over Pakistan.
Sheedis are believed to have originated on the east coast of Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Zimbabwe. Sheedi got their name from Pasha Muhammed Sheedi, a freed slaves who fought for Sindh, against British invasion.
During the 17th and 18th Century, Africans arrived with the Arab conquest of Sindh, some as soldiers most as slaves. It is reported 600-700 africans arrived annually in the region to the beginning of the 20th century.
The British ended slavery in Pakistan in 1843.
Sheedis have what is called the mugarman drum, which is thought to be related to the ngoma drum from Zimbabwe. Certain names that Sheedis go by, is believed to be of African origins. Words of Swahili origins can be found in the phrases of Sheedis.
Every year, early spring, Sheedis hold a festival. Sheedi Mela, centered arround muslim saints, Mangho Pir. The festival bears pecular African traits. Offerings are made to crocodiles, in the hope that the spirit of the crocodile will enter a host, thereby providing redemption from suffering to the Sheedi community. Crocodiles are kept well fed for this reason.
Poverty, illiteracy haunts the community. Organization like the Young Sheedi Welfare Organization(YSWO) founded by Faiz Muhammad Bilali is at the forefront of addressing issues affecting Sheedis, especially in education.
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