Karachi: The politician is bringing hope to the country’s marginalized Sidi community. The Sidi community, is a small ethnic group of African descent concentrated in the mountainous regions of Pakistan.
The group has been largely overlooked in social, political and economic life in the country. There are, however, small advancements being made towards representation, and 39-year-old Sidi politicial Tanzeela Qambrani is at the forefront of these changes.
Qambrani, whose ancestors came from Tanzania, has been nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to a women’s reserved seat in the regional parliament of southern Sindh province, making her the first person of African descent to hold a seat in Pakistan’s parliament.
Sidi people also live in the areas of Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and have been in the country for centuries. They are thought to be the descendants of slaves that were brought to the region by the Portuguese.
“As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt,”.
Qambrani, a computer science postgraduate with three children, is dedicated to preserving the African roots of the Sidi community, which has a population in the tens of thousands in Pakistan.
Though she’s held local office in the past, Qambrani is readying herself for the responsibilities that will come with representing her people on a larger political arena.
“I can already feel the weight,” she said. “I’m a Sidi, and all these middle class, lower-middle class and working class Sidis know that I’m one of them.
With this post, Qambrani is bringing hope to a community that has dealt with widespread marginalization in Pakistan for centuries. Check out the video below to hear her speak on what this historic role means for her and the Sidi community.