The majority of the Siddis in Karnataka are descendants of Siddis slaves who were brought from East Africa (mostly Mozambique) Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Bemba, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, Nigeria, and other place from Africa to Goa by the Portuguese, British and the Arabs between the 16th and 19th centuries. Mozambique in Africa was under the control of the Portuguese and hence it was easy for them to bring these Africans to Goa as slaves.
During the GOAN Inquisition, some of these slaves were freed and some escaped into the forests of the neighboring Karnataka state.
While most of them were victims of slave trade, some of them also were imported by the Nawabs in the 15th-16th centuries as military mercenaries. Others were sailors on the trade routes to the east. At this period, slaves were generally used in European countries and they were even auctioned in public. Some of these slaves who were unable to bear the torture of the Portuguese escaped from Goa and entered into north Karnataka forests of Sirsi, Yellapur, etc. It was a black spot on civilization but the Portuguese resorted to it without inhibition. The word Siddi means a laborer and these Negroes who worked as laborers came to be referred to as Siddis meaning laborers. After spreading themselves in the forests of Karnataka, they adopted various religions such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Thus there are Hindu Siddis, Muslim Siddis and Christian Siddis. If a Siddi worked as laborers in a Hindu family, he had no hesitation in adopting Hinduism. This is the case with other religions also. Thus they adopted themselves easily to the new social and religious environment. That is why they speak a mixed dialect of Marathi, Kannada and Konkani. Both men and women dress according to the local practice like dhoti and sari.