She was the last member of a unique tribe, on India“s Andaman Islands. An entire culture disappears with her. Her name was Boa Sr, the last member of the Bo tribe. Boa Sr died last week aged around 85. She was the last speaker of the tirbe, one of the ten Great Andamanese.
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".
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. Originally ten distinct tribes, the Great Andamanese were 5,000 strong when the British colonized the Andaman Islands in 1858. Most were killed or died of diseases brought by the colonizers.
Having failed to "pacify" the tribes through violence, the British tried to "civilize" them by capturing many and keeping them in an "Andaman Home". Of the 150 children born in the home, none lived beyond the age of two.
The surviving Great Andamanese depend largely on the Indian government for food and shelter, and abuse of alcohol is rife.