13 September, 2011

The Hadhrami and Irish migrations.......

It is hard to decide, let alone move from one house to another or one suburb to another. It is even harder moving from one town or city to another. And, it is hardest moving from one country to another. But, imagine deciding to move, to migrate, from the country you are in now to another that is utterly different from the one you are in; different in climate, in people, in culture and completely alien. How very hard that must be. Imagine moving to that new country, with nothing except the basic of necessities; leaving behind you, your ancestral homeland, your family and relatives, and many times - even your wife and children. Imagine moving to that new place using the most hazardous and most difficult of means. What kind of desperation would lead one to this? That's what the Hadharem, from Hadhramaut, did when they migrated to alien, foreign lands years ago. And that's what the Irish did in more or less the same ways. Both the Hadharem and the Irish moved to foreign lands, liked or hated there, most settled in those foreign lands. And both, have been very influential in their new homelands.

In the 19th Century, due to economic pressure, famine and insecurity, the Irish fled their homeland in droves; wherever they went, be it to the America or Canada or Australia or New Zealand, the Irish have had a profound impact and imprint. Same for the Hadharem: they too, during the 19th and particularly the 20th centuries, were forced by economic needs, hunger and insecurity - to immigrate and leave their ancestral land; they moved and settled in Eastern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Sudan, Egypt, the Gulf counties, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Maldives, Brunei and many other South and South-East Asian countries. They too, more than any other Arabs, have left lasting and deep impressions in the places they settled in. Both the Hadahrem and the Irish, used boats and the sea and traveled in very treacherous conditions, to migrate. One thing common between the Irish and the Hadrami immigration, was the British influence in both Ireland and Hadhramout during those periods of immigration.

Like the Irish who, when leaving Ireland and who carried nothing more with them than the clothes they had on and maybe a small bag with the very basic of necessities, the Hadharem too - when fleeing Hadhramaut, had nothing with them except their shirts and loin cloth; and a small pack of necessities. Both, the Hadhramis and the Irish traveled by sea to a place they had never been to; both, when reaching their destinations - took and did any kind of work. Once reaching their destinations, they faced very difficult, trying conditions and did whatever work they could find to survive. They became auctioneers, petty traders, peddlers, shopkeepers, butchers, bakers or whatever job they could find. Both, would first stay along the coast where most would remain and settle; a few would drift inland. The main difference between the Hadhramis and the Irish, is that - very few Hadharmis ever took their wives or their women out of their homeland; while the Irish migrated with many of their women. The other main difference is that, the Hadharem migrated, settled and easily assimilated with the indigenous, native people of the places they moved in to; most of them married converted local native women. While the Irish did not easily assimilate or integrate with the natives of the places they migrated to.

As for history, it is impossible to talk of American, Canadian, Australian or New Zealander history without mentioning and stressing the Irish importance. And there is no way, any one can talk about the history of Eastern Africa, South and South-East Asia and the Arabian Peninsular - without mentioning the Hadharem. Wherever the Irish migrated to, they became leaders, leading merchants and traders; and influenced events. Same with the Hadharem: in India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Eastern Africa, the Horn of Africa and even the now independent East Timor - the Hadharem have been major players in their histories. Like the Irish who introduced their cultures to distant lands where they settled in; the Hadhramis have had enormous influence in shaping the cultures of the many foreign lands they migrated to. In turn, the Irish took some of the cultures and ideas that they learnt in distant lands to their homeland; and so have the Hadharem - they too, brought back to Hadhramout, from foreign lands, ideas and a little bit of those places cultures. With the ongoing instability and very difficult economic conditions in Yemen, many Hadhramis will still continue to migrate.