End of the Bo
The end of January saw the end of the Bo, an ancient tribe that was the source of one of the 10 Great Andamanese languages, which are thought to date back to the pre-Neolithic period when the earliest humans walked out of Africa over 65,000 years ago. Boa Sr, the last Bo native of the Andaman Islands, passed away at age 85.
In 1970, the Indian Government relocated the remainder of the indigenous Bo tribe to another island near Port Blair, where Boa lived out her life in a concrete and tin hut with government rationing instead of the jungle homeland of her ancestry. According to linguist Professor Anvita Abbi, Boa grew lonely without being able to speak her native language with the last of the tribal elders.
150 years of contact with colonizers, and the disease and alcohol brought with them, have greatly diminished the population of the Great Andamanese tribes of which the Bo were one. These tribes "once numbered more than 5,000 and were made up of 10 distinct groups with their own language," and now are only a dwindling 52. Boa told Abbi that she often envied the Sentinelese, a tribe that has remained intact in part because they ban any contact with the outside world. Two members were photographed firing arrows at an Indian helicopter in 2004 and making the proclamation that "they were better off in the jungle."
Organizations such as Survival International campaign for the rights of indigenous peoples and urge the Indian government not to resettle the Jawara or any other indigenous tribes with the hope of preventing the further depletion of irreplaceable language and culture. of linguistic sources like what happened with the Bo, and preserve a deeper cultural tradition for the peoples of the Earth. You can view her speak here.
Image: "Boa Sr" by diogenis.sinopean on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet