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African Unit 7

The African Presence in Asia

Name: Willie Davis

College: Lansing Community College

Discipline: History

Module Title: “The African Presence in Asia”

Narrative Description of the Module: The African Presence in Asia: Using media and research from an interdisciplinary approach and other resources (OER) explore concepts such as Ubuntu; a business model, Environmental Justice, development of radical thought and action such as Black Lives Matter, Mass Mind (China) and Education for Self-reliance theories (Tanzania) , science and discoveries and the development of humane social practices. State of the art delivery methodology such as cell phones as an educational tool is a technological approach. The module will be in sections reflecting on the following issues as part of the Module:
Educational Objectives of the Module
  1. Explain the significance of the African Origin of Civilizations in China, India, Pakistan and other Southeast Asian countries
  2. Identify the current state of people of African Descent in the China, India, Pakistan and other Southeast Asian countries.
  3. Provide background information on Africa and its Diaspora in Asia to students who want to conduct research and/or travel to Asia
Detailed outline of main themes (with accompanying content notes) to be included in the Lectures/Discussions Used to Implement the Module
  1. Early African Presence in Asia
    1. Archeological evidence
    2. Agricultural evidence
    3. Geographical evidence
    4. Early Migrations
      1. Millions of years ago
      2. 500,000 years ago
      3. 50,000 years ago
    5. Early Trade
    6. Early influence on Asian Societies
    7. Audio-visual examples
      1. The African Presence in Asia (
      2. African Presence in Early Asia (
  2. The Slave Trade to Asia and the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula
    1. Co-mingled with free trade
    2. Impact on Asian Societies
      1. Political
      2. Social
      3. Economic
      4. Cultural
    3. Religion
    4. Music
      1. Political
      2. Religious
      3. Cultural
    5. Examples (Audio-visual)
      1. dila teer bija (
      3. Ali, S., Valentine, P etal (2011) Hidden Colors: The Untold History of People of Aboriginal, Moor and African Descent (DVD)
  3. Current locations of African populations in Asia
    1. India
    2. China
    3. Southeast Asia
    4. Cross Cultural Influence
    5. Audiovisual examples
      2. Dhe Kanbili - Faruma boduberu group (
  4. Background information on Africa and the African presence in Asia
    1. All Around the African World Museum
    2. Organization on the African Diasporas
    3. Museum of the African Diaspora
    4. World African Diaspora Union
    5. Site Visit to All Around the African World Museum gallery of the African Presence in Asia
    6. Museum Visit Summary
    7. Summary Document
NOTES: The African origin in early Asia is in three parts. The first speaks of African Antiquity. This covers the First Migration of Africa. Skeletal remains, artifacts, archeological resources, agriculture, oral history and language analysis, trading and now supported/verified by genetics.

The second involves the Cultural, social, political, economics, culture including religion (spirituality) and music during periods of free and slave migration from Africa to Asia. Music has had a tremendous impact on Asian populations and music It’s influence dominates this section.

The Third section is to show students resources to study this phenomenon and its impact on the African Diaspora in Asia and elsewhere.

Most of the research concerns the role of African in Asia due to the slave trade. Without the reference to slavery Runoki Rashidi in “Africans in Early Asian Civilizations: A Historical Overview” relate that the African presence in early Asia began more than 500,000 years in the first major though archeological evidence show there was migration from Africa to Asia millions of years ago. A second wave comes from 50,000 years ago by “diminutive blacks who traveled from one corner of Asia to another” (Rashidi). He discusses the arrival in Asia with blacks “slightly larger bodily proportions and further distinguished by straight to wavy hair textures. Variously called Austrics, Austro-Asiatics, Mons, Mundas, Kolarians and Veddas, these blacks were probably at their zenith 25, 000 years and are still prevalent in large numbers throughout Asia.

The blacks were also the first in the development of Asia’s early civilizations” (Rashidi). Gwynn Campbell follows up with this point with the following statements “it is certain that in the Asian world a significant free African migration occurred both prior and coterminous with the slave trade”. She also discusses African and Asian contacts from 4-7 million years ago through archeological research and supports Rashidi’s timeline of migration to Asia between 40,000 – 50,000 years ago. Since the 6th century AD Ethiopians from Aksum were sailing and establishing outposts as far east as Sri Lanka. Islamic populations were also involved in these migrations.

There is ample research of these early efforts in establishing and maintaining contacts as well as residence in Asian lands. Audio visual resources demonstrate this as well as an article with pictorial evidence of the African Presence in Early Asia. The All around the African World Museum also depicts such evidence with pictorial displays of the people of India as well as the ruins of two Pakistani cities Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Karmwar also has dates that place early African excursions, trade and settlement in India thousands of years ago.

Gwynn concentrates on Blacks that came to Asia as part of the slave trade. Trade in African slaves comingled with free migration to Asia starting in the last millennia BC and continued well into the 20th Century and according to Campbell and expresses the view that they were” for centuries the most oppressed and exploited element in Society” (Campbell). Similar situations were the fate of the Dalit in India, commonly called ‘the untouchables” of whom a high percentage are black.

One evidence of the cultural contributions of Africans to Asians is in the cultural area of Music where it is used for marriage ceremonies, the worship of African deities, entertainment, sacred events, politics, expressions of love, and understanding. Many ceremonies as well as rituals use African instruments and music forms. The Pakistani national movement national anthem is in a song with African Roots. This music form is mentioned in the article “African Migrants as Cultural.

Brokers in South Asia” (Campbell). Several music forms predominate. Jayasuriya states “Chanting, controlled breathing and rhythmic bodily movements leading to a trance and spirit possession were common practice in East African Coastal towns and even on the dhows on which the slaves were taken to be sold “. Musical traditions are one indicator of the African presence in Asia. She goes on to explain certain musical traditions that currently exist in Asia with African Roots. One of these is The Bjia Teer; ”The musical anthem of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, Bija Teer, is a Balochi song in the musical style of the Sheedis with Black African style rhythm and drums” (Wikipedia). The Balochi’s are of African origin and have “retained their musical heritage because it has been an important tool for liberating themselves from the daily hardship of discrimination and marginalized life and a mechanism for expressing rage and suffering” (Jayasuriya).

Other contributions to the Asian continent include freed African slaves occupying prominent positions (Jayasuriya). In India they played a vital role in the socio-political and economic life of several dynasties, including military and administrative services (Karmwar). Other areas of African contributions use of domestic grains from Africa (Karmwar) A group of transplanted Africans called Siddis from Gujarat trace the roots of their patron saint; Gori Pir as an Abyssinian from in Africa (Karmwar). Black Mongols in China, Dravidians in India, Black dynasties in China and Alexander Pushkin ‘Russia’s greatest poet was Black complement the African Experience in Asia.

Listing of Audio-Visuals Used to Implement the Module (provide electronic links to sites where they can be accessed)
  1. The African Presence in Asia (
  2. African Presence in Early Asia (
  4. dila teer bija (
  8. Dhe Kanbili - Faruma boduberu group (
  9. Ali, S., Valentine, P etal (2011) Hidden Colors: The Untold History of People of Aboriginal, Moor and African Descent (DVD)
Student Readings (links to sites where readings can be accessed electronically or by purchase)
  1. Ya Kama, L. (January 19, 2018) The first Inhabitants of Asia were Black. Retrieved from
  2. Afro- Asians in South Asia (January, 2018) Retrieved from
  3. The Maldives Holiday guide, Retrieved from
  4. Makrani Culture (July 20, 2013), Retrieved from
Writing/Field/Experiential Assignments Used to Implement the Module
  1. Demonstration of Balo Music
  2. Site Visit to All Around the African World Museum gallery of the African Presence in Asia
  3. Museum Visit Summary
  4. Summary Document
Student Evaluation/Testing Regarding the Module
Use quizzes (1-3), class or individual projects (hands-on), for each module section with activities as well as scoring quizzes. Students can develop different pathways to scoring adequate points such as a quiz in place of a hands on experience. Group participation will be part of the assessment (scoring). Essays, audio-visual productions and presentations (film, PowerPoint, digital and graphic, using Multiple Intelligence Theory by Gardner as basis for assessment will also be options for students to score points. Each educational event will have point scores for separate parts of the module.

Resources (Bibliography) Used to Develop-Implement the Module (where feasible provide links to where resources can be accessed electronically)
  1. Afro- Asians in South Asia (January, 2018) Retrieved from
  2. Campbell, G. (2008), The African Diaspora in Africa. In Pasad, K.K. & Angenot, J.P. (Eds.), TADIA The African Diaspora in Asia (43-82), Bangalore, Jana Jagrati Prakashan
  3. Dhe Kanbili - Faruma boduberu group (May 3, 2016). Retrieved from
  4. Jayasuriya, S.D. (2006) African Migrants as Cultural Brokers in South Asia Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 1-5
  5. Karmwar, M. (2010), African Diaspora in India. Organization for Diaspora Initiatives, 3(1), 69-91
  6. Lee, D.O. (February 4, 2013, African Origins Influenced Asia. Retrieved from
  7. Makrani Culture (July 20, 2013), Retrieved from
  8. Maqsood, F. (2014) dila teer bija – YouTube Retrieved from
  9. Raalhugandu Boduberu (December 27, 2017 Despacito Maldivian Version – Hampu. Retrieved from
  10. Rashidi, R. (1985), Africans in Early Asian Civilizations: A Historical Overview. In I, Van Sertima & R. Rashidi (Eds.), The African Presence in Early Asia (pp15-53), New Brunswick, New Jersey and Oxford, U.K., Transaction Books
  11. The Maldives Holiday guide, Retrieved from
  12. Van Sertima, I, (May 3, 2016) African Presence in Early Asia. Retrieved from
  13. Ya Kama, L. (January 19, 2018) The first Inhabitants of Asia were Black. Retrieved from