Could Borans be part of early American history? Where are these people and their descendents now?
BORANA IMMIGRANTS FROM SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA (1902)
Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1925. Augustus F. Sherman, a clerk at Ellis Island, created hundreds of images documenting the new arrivals to America at the Island. Two of his photographs were a portrait posted above. Who are this people and how did they arrive in Ellis Island, New York. Some analysts suggest that they have been taken to New York as a part of exhibition of different ethnic groups from Africa.
The interesting observation from the portrait is a presence of young children in the group. This makes it more unlikely that the group brought as slaves. At the same time it is not clear what kind of exhibition would involve children of this age and demand them to travel that far by the means of transportation available during 1905, which is seemingly not an airplane? However the script under this portrait suggests this people as immigrants. This is interesting for they are not identified as slaves. Even if the suggestion above is taken in to consideration and they were part of an exhibition, it is interesting to know what kind of agreement existed between these group and their sponsors. Are they brought in to the business forcefully or willingly? What was their destiny after the exhibition?
Although, their identity, how they got to New York and their destiny was not clearly known, the description on the portrait above indicates as these people were Borans from Southern Ethiopia. According Boranas calender, 1902 is duringre the regime (Gadaa) of Adi Doyo Jillo, governed Rabaa Gadaa from 1896 to 1904. His administration came 31 Gadaas or 248 years after Abbay Babo Horo who led the Borans to territories up to Mombas in Kenya and Hargesa in Somalia. Thus we can see that practically the Borans had been occupying this region that started from the coastal area of Mombasa or even Lamu to regions that stretched deep into the coastal area of Somalia that boarder the Indian Ocean. If Borans were occupying this area around 1902, then could it be possible that the group may got access to ships transporting goods from this region? Still it is interesting at that time a group of people (which looks like a family) decide to board a stranger ship willingly and traveled that far. If they did, there should be a reasonable motivating factor that resulted in that risky journey. What could it be?
Although there are hundreds of possible questions out there concerning this group, the biggest of all is whether their descendants do still exist, perhaps in the US. If they do and could be located, then part of or possibly the entire mystery could be solved.