by Sehba Sarwar with Jibran Javaid and Aslam Khwaja
In July 2012, Sehba Sarwar drove from Karachi to Tando Bago, Sindh with Aslam Khawja and Jibran Javaid to visit with members of Pakistan’s Sheedi community. During the visit, Sarwar talked with educator Pir Buksh, about the challenges his community faces when trying to obtain basic education. She also visited with Gul Mohammad, a government employee, who shares his concerns about the poverty his community faces. In another video, a young woman, Dillo Badin, talks about her desire to gain an education. The final video features spontaneous singing-drumming by the villagers The full transcripts of the interviews will be published in VBB’s upcoming book on Homes and Histories. Below are some excerpts.
Pir Buksh: “Everyone knows we hail from Africa. We are now in Sindh and we speak the language and know the culture… We do have our own practice of drumming, which identifies us as who we are. We have held on to drumming as our practice as we were taught by our elders…I am a teacher and I take these little children with me when I teach… There’s no school in our neighborhood. We have to walk very far with all the children just to get to a school. We are afraid that our children might get lost on these long walks. We leave in the morning and return in the evening. We need a community hall, also, where we can hold our events, marriages… Right now, we have no such space. We are Pakistani and we’re now from Sindh. So why are we treated like this? “
Gul Mohammad: “Our community has been around for a long time…Wealthy people think that we’re slaves, that we’re construction workers and we don’t have government representation. Now we have lawyers and some of us are educated. Very few… Some of us are in education, in offices, in police departments. Before, there was nothing! Before this time, people in my nation (race) did only construction work and we did menial work for others. My race found our voice during Bhutto Sahib’s rule (70s). Before that we wouldn’t even talk to police officers. We used to be afraid. But now, we talk to the Superintendent. Bhutto empowered our people. Bhutto informed us that government employees were there to serve the nation.”
Dillo Badin: “I liked to study a lot but my family didn’t have any money. We didn’t have any money. I used to always do well in school and was top of my class. But then my parents married me off when I was young and I couldn’t study more. I’m 20 or 21 years old… I have four children.”
Aslam Khawaja is a researcher who has worked extensively on issues related to the Sheedi/Baloch communities. He is contributing an essay to VBB’s art catalog the complements this website.
Jibran Jawaid has been working as a film director/producer for the past 10 years. He has created many videos for documentaries, features, and television shows.
Karachi-born writer and multidisciplinary artist Sehba Sarwar serves as VBB’s Artistic Director/ Founder.