August 31, 2017 ‚Äî At first sight, the Jawara look African, but genetically they have more in common with South Asians. They are considered to be one of the earliest people to have walked this earth ‚Äì and now their livelihood is in danger.
In 2012, a shocking video showing half-naked Jarawa women being made to dance by an off-camera police officer caused outrage on the Internet and among Indian authorities. For many viewers, this was their introduction to the Jarawa, one of the indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands, which form part of India‚Äôs Andaman and Nicobar territories. These are home to several indigenous peoples, including the Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Jangil, Onge and Sentinelese.
Most of the people living on these islands are Indian immigrants. The indigenous Andamanese form a small minority ‚Äì their numbers fell due to colonialism, the introduction of diseases to which they had no immunity and new threats disrupting their way of life. The Jangil are extinct, probably due to contact with foreign diseases. The Great Andamanese now number 52 individuals, while the Onge have less than a hundred people.
Who are the Jarawa?
Few know the story of the Jarawa people. On seeing their dark skin and Afro-textured hair, one might wonder how they got to Asia, but the Jarawa and others who look like them can be found in several south and south-east Asian countries. Following the ‚ÄúOut Of Africa‚Äù theory of human evolution, modern humans stem from a single group of Homo sapiens who emigrated from Africa and populated the world. The Jarawa are said to be descended from some of the first humans to leave Africa.
‚ÄúNo one ever told us where we came from,‚Äù says Telo, a Jarawa man who appears in the documentary We Are Humanity.
Jarawa territory includes beautiful beaches and reserves, and the government has economic plans to build the largest port on the Indian Ocean there.
Dereims and producer Claire Beilvert have dedicated their lives to making impactful documentaries focused on people who are fighting for their freedom.