Last member of Andaman tribe passes away

The death of the last surviving member of a Paleolithic tribe on the Andaman Islands:

The last member of a unique tribe has died on India’s Andaman Islands.

Boa Sr, who died last week aged around 85, was the last speaker of ‘Bo’, one of the ten Great Andamanese languages. The Bo are thought to have lived in the Andaman Islands for as much as 65,000 years, making them the descendants of one of the oldest human cultures on Earth.

Boa Sr was the oldest of the Great Andamanese, who now number just 52 …

The surviving Great Andamanese depend largely on the Indian government for food and shelter, and abuse of alcohol is rife.

Boa Sr survived the Asian tsunami of December 2004, and told linguists, ‘We were all there when the earthquake came. The eldest told us ‘the Earth would part, don’t run away or move’. The elders told us, that’s how we know.’

Linguist Prof. Anvita Abbi, who knew Boa Sr for many years, said, ‘Since she was the only speaker of [Bo] she was very lonely as she had no one to converse with… Boa Sr. had a very good sense of humour and her smile and full throated laughter were infectious.’

‘You cannot imagine the pain and anguish that I spend each day in being a mute witness to the loss of a remarkable culture and unique language.’

Boa Sr told Abbi she felt the neighbouring Jarawa tribe, who have not been decimated, were lucky to live in their forest away from the settlers who now occupy much of the Islands.

Some fascinating background on another one of the ten tribes of the Andamans, the Pygmy Negritos, here.

5 Responses to “Last member of Andaman tribe passes away”

  1. JC Says:

    She had a mild aboriginal appearance, particularly her nose.

  2. Steve Says:

    Passes away? How twee. You mean died so why not say so ffs.

  3. BirdLab Says:

    Fuck off Phil.

  4. Legal Eagle Says:

    That’s so tragic. I feel so sad about the fact that no one else talked her language too. How lonely.

    JC, the article on Pygmy Negritos notes that they look a little like Australian Aborigines and that they are probably related genetically. I’m sure the same was true of this woman.

  5. graemebird Says:

    “The Bo are thought to have lived in the Andaman Islands for as much as 65,000 years”

    Wow. Thats like the first wave out of Africa. Thats like about the time when the human race had first reconstituted itself after some sort of grave disaster just a few thousand years earlier.

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