Young filmmaker Asha Stuart documents the lost tribes of Africa now living in India

A native African tribe has been living in the dense forests of South Asia in quiet obscurity for more than 500 years, and is now the subject of a short documentary by National Geographic Young Explorer, Asha Stuart.

Known as the Siddis, their ancestors originated from the Great Lakes region of Africa before being captured and brought to India as Arab slaves.

When slavery was outlawed in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Siddis feared persecution and retreated into the forests, where they have been living ever since.

Today, the Siddi people are considered to be in the lowest bracket of the Hindu caste system – the Sudras or the “untouchables”.

African-American Asha Stuart, was inspired to make the documentary drawing comparisons to the struggles of the Siddi people in India – such as high levels of racism and a lack of voice and visibility – and African-Americans.

The documentary photographer and filmmaker travelled to India as a 2016 National Geographic Young Explorer grantee, where the grant funded her work documenting the Siddi tribal people.

She created a short documentary and photo project, entitled Lost Tribes of Africa, which you can view above. Her one-month-and-a-half long journey in India took her through Karnataka, Gujarat, and Hyderabad, exploring the daily lives of the Siddi people.

Asha Stuart’s interests are rooted in the lives of people living in marginalised communities and facing injustice in areas of racial inequality, women’s rights, and environmental issues.

Her next project involves going to the Peruvian Amazon to film and photograph indigenous tribes and their connection with endangered species.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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