Africa and India have had a long history and relationship together in areas like trade, religion, music, arts, and architecture, dating far back as the 1st century, but their historical link is rarely discussed.
A notable place during the Common Era where modern Africans and Indians co-existed was in the princely state of Sachin, India. The Sachin state was an African ruled state in Gujarat in India, established in 1791. Sachin was a self-contained nation that had its own coat of arms, stamped paper, currency, Calvary and also a mixed Royal court of Africans and Indians. Princely states in India were autonomous feudatory kingdoms that operated as vassal or subsidiary allies to the regional hegemonies of India.
Sachin was merged into Independent India in 1948 along with other princely states in the region. At this point, they had a population of about 26,000 which comprised of mostly Hindu worshippers and a smaller population of Muslim followers.
Sachin state was established on 6 June 1791 with over 85% of its population being Hindus, while the other parts, mostly their rulers, being Sunni Muslims of the Sidi dynasty of Danfa-Rajpuri and Janjira State. The Sidi dynasty is of Habesha origin, people culturally and ancestrally related to the ethnic groups in the Ethiopian highlands in Africa.
Sachin state, before it came under the British protectorate, was under the protection of the Maratha Peshwa (likened to a modern-day prime minister). In 1829, the state became bankrupt; this brought the state under British civil administration between 1835 and 1864. It had its own currency, Calvary, and stamped paper, including a state band with Africans inclusive.
One of India’s cinemas earliest superstars, Fatima Begum (1892- 1983), who was also India’s first female film director, was said to have been allegedly married to Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III of Sachin state. But sources from the Sachin royal family throw a veil over this, and they claim no record of the marriage or contract between the Fatima Begum and the Nawab. They also claim no record of the Nawab recognizing her children, Sultana, Zubeida and Shehzadi as his own. Fatima Begnum’s daughter, Sultana, became a key figure in early Indian movies. Zubeida, Sultana’s younger sister, became a leading actress in Indian’s first talkie film Alam Ara in 1931.
Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III, the last ruler of Sachin state, signed the agreement to join the Indian union on 8 March 1948 and the state became part of Surat district in Bombay Province.
Zubaida stayed in India after the partition, while her sister moved to Pakistan where she got married and gave birth to a girl child, Jamila Razzaq, who eventually became a prominent actress in Pakistan between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s.
A painting of Nawab Sidi Haidar Khan of Sachin
Location of Sachin
The Sachin State (Pink) within the Surat Agency
All rulers in Sachin were addressed by a title “Nawab,” and they were all granted a nine-gun salute by the British authorities.
- Abdul Karim Mohammad Yakut Khan I: ruled from 6th June 1791 to 9th July 1802 (birth was around the 1700s (uncertain) and died in 1802)
- Ibrahim Mohammad Yakut Khan I: ruled from 9th July 1802 to 25th March 1853 (birth date is uncertain while he died in 1853)
- Abdul Karim Mohammad Yakut Khan II: ruled from 25th March 1853 to 1st December 1868 (born 1802 and died 1868)
- Ibrahim Mohammad Yakut Khan II: ruled from 1st December 1868 to 4th March 1873 (born in 1833 and died in 1873)
- Abdul Kadir Khan: ruled from 4th March 1873 to 7th Jan 1887 (born 1865 and died 1896)
- Ibrahim Mohammad Yakut Khan III: ruled from 7th February 1887 to 19th November 1930 (born 1886 and died 1930)
- Haydar Mohammad Yakut Khan: ruled from 19th November 1930 to 15th August 1947 (born 1909 and died 1970)
There were also records of regents at certain times in the history of Sachin State, between 4th of March 1873 to July 1886, and 7th February 1887 to 4th May 1907.
HISTORY OF RULE
Sidi Abdu Karim, the heir, and son of Sidi Abdul Rahman, who was the Ruler of Rajapore and Janjira, fled to Poona around the year 1784. The reason for this event was not farfetched; he was on the run because his inheritance was seized by Sidi Johor. He signed an agreement with the Peishwa of Marathas in 1791, this led to him giving up all his right to Janjira, but he was given Sachin and all its dependencies instead.
He was forced to give up active administration of the state by the United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies, commonly called the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), in 1829, following a financial and administrative managerial breakdown. Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan I, and his son, Nawab Sidi Abdul Karim Muhammad Yakut Khan II, ruled as nominal rulers until ruling power was fully restored in 1864. Thereafter, the history of the state was relatively free and peaceful under the benevolent and friendly rule of successive Nawabs.
The family entered various marriage alliances with the Muslim aristocracy of Haidarabad. The family also introduced early conversions to European education. Various members of the family attended different universities in England, some became lawyers and served as military officers and administrators. Notable was Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III who served with great distinction in the East African campaign during the Great War. He was honoured with a salute of 11-guns rendered in the style of Highness. Finally, in August 1947, Nawab Sidi Muhammad Haidar Muhammad Yakut Khan consented to the dominion of India over them, and the state was merged in 1948 with the presidency of Bombay.
The Sachin State has a coat of arm with a shield in three, Dexter, a ship at sea with flags and masthead; sinister, a castle with two towers above the walls, a reversed five-pointed star, and a crescent tilted. Also at the top a lion passant guardant turned sinister and holding a fish in its raised paw is seen. Supporters: Guards armed with swords and dressed in striped jackets, wearing hats and countercharged.
The Sachin state flag was a horizontal flag with five equal stripes of red, green, yellow, pink, and dark-blue (from top to bottom)
DECORATIONS AND ORDERS
During the time of some of the Nawabs, especially during the time of Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III, some certain orders were awarded, and some decorations were given to deserving persons. Some of the decorations are:
- Nishan-i-Sardari (the Decoration of the Nobility): founded in August 1918 by Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III, it was awarded in two classes, first class in Gold and second class in silver.
- Tamgha-i-Liaqat-i-Kidmat (Meritorious Service Medal): Founded in August 1918 and awarded in two classes, first class in Gold, second class in Gold, and Second Class in Silver.
- Nishan-i-Yakut Zaman (the Decoration of the Garnet of the Age): instituted in 1907 to commemorate Nawab Sidi Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III’s coming of age and coming into full ruling power. Awarded in a single class, a silver medal.
- Nishan-i-Sultan Manzoor (the decoration of the ruler’s Admiration): was instituted and awarded in a single class, a silver medal.
- Nishan-i-Hadani (the decoration of the hadani): awarded in a single class, a silver medal.
Special names were used to address a special class of persons in the Sachin state. Some include:
The Ruling Prince
The ruling prince was called by some of these names
- Nawab Sidi (his personal name) Khan Bahadur
- Mumbariz ud-Daula
- Muzaffar ul-Mulk
The consort of the ruling prince
Addressed by the following names
- Nawab Begum Sahiba (personal title)
The heir apparent
- Nawabzada Sidi Khan Bahadur (the general name for all the sons of the ruling prince)
- Wali Ahad Sahib
The daughters of the ruling prince were addressed as Nawabzadi Begum Sahiba.
The grandsons and other male descendants of the ruling prince were addressed as Sahibzada Sidi Khan while the females were addressed as Sahibzadi Begum Sahiba.
Some notable pictures from Sachin
Fatima Begum, whose marriage with Nawab of Sachin Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan III was withheld from public recognition.
Nawab Ibrahim Muhammad Yakut Khan II of Sachin (1833 – 1873)
The Sachin state Merchant flag
A 1904 picture showing Africans guarding and escorting a royal procession.
The study of Sachin state has revealed a lot about the relationship built between Africans and Indians and how they came to be a strong force among the Indian community. Revisiting these histories between these people provides the opportunity to build a mutual understanding of how Africa and India have contributed to the global fabric of the world we live in today. Despite the fact that some of these historical relations between Africa and India may in time be down-played by modern India, orchestrated efforts have been made by people and factions to research into these areas.
Today, we can find Indians in Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Tanzania who identify themselves as Africans. Also, there are descendants of African migrants who reside in India and call India their home. Unfortunately, when history is not presented objectively, ignorance perpetuates discrimination, prejudice, judgmental errors and even violence against dark-skinned Indians.