Boa Sr, the last speaker of ‘Bo’, one of the ten Great Andamanese languages, died last week, according to an indigenous rights group. She was 85.
His death marks the extinction of the Bo, a group thought to have lived on the Andaman Islands for as much as 65,000 years, “making them the descendants of one of the oldest human cultures on Earth,” according to Survival International.
The tribe was decimated when the British colonized the Andaman Islands in 1858. The Bo died at the hands of British soldiers and of introduced disease.
Boa Sr was the oldest of the Great Andamanese, a group of ten tribes. There are now only 52 living Great Andamanese, most of whom are destitute, according to Survival International’s director Stephen Corry.
Boa Sr, the last member of the Bo tribe. © Alok Das
“The Great Andamanese were first massacred, then all but wiped out by paternalistic policies which left them ravaged by epidemics of disease, and robbed of their land and independence,” he said in a statement.
“With the death of Boa Sr and the extinction of the Bo language, a unique part of human society is now just a memory. Boa’s loss is a bleak reminder that we must not allow this to happen to the other tribes of the Andaman Islands.”
Survival International is working to help the Jarawa, an Andaman tribe that resisted contact with outsiders until 1998. The group has since been decimated by measles.
Listen to Boa Sr singing in Bo (.mov).