I have always been interested in history. I cherish the memories of me and my grandmother sketching out our family tree. A passion for history was already taking set at an early age. At school, history and english classes were the only time I listened tentatively. I clung on to the teachers every word. By 15 it became quite apparent that this history curriculum had very little to do with my actual history or past and it left me wanting more. In class we learnt about Christopher Columbus amongst other explorers. As to be expected in an English school we also learnt about the Romans, Tudors Stewarts. The first and second world war were a focus for a long time. I enjoy learning about the history of England and America since they are always so closely related when it comes to politics and business and after all I was born in England. That said these things only skimmed the surface of my heritage. With a hunger for more information I soon emerced myself in books about slavery from my local library. I was horrified as I stared at diagrams of slaves packed into the bases of ships. I soon gained the general knowledge of the slavery era and transportation of africans to the carribean and America and the sort of labour they endured.
I remember my grandmother describing her 2 week journey to England by boat where she became a nurse. Previously my grandmother on my paternal side had lived in America and worked as an au pair/live in nanny. As a third generation jamaican all 4 of my grandparents were born in jamaica and so we’re their parents. My early childhood and teenage years were filled with stories about growing up in Jamaica. My paternal grandmother spoke of living in Kingston and being born and raised in St Elizabeth. My maternal grandmother spoke of being from Clarendon jamaica. She was what we call red skin, a fair lady compared to my other side and it showed. She boasted of Indian heritage and had the hair to prove it. She was proud of being from Redhills. It is fair to say my moms mom was prejudice against dark skin despite being black herself. This type of prejudice is familiar amongst races as per history the light skinned people for a time in jamaica were treated differently sometimes called creole. These black people would have been more likely to be given less strenuous work possibly a house slave rather than a field slave. It appears that not only is my mother’s side mixed with Irish but the term Creole in Jamaica referred to people born in America and possibly mixed. My grandmother I now know was mixed with Polish/Russian and Portuguese or Spanish which would have given her an Asian look.
Both my grandfather’s passed away before I reached 4 so information regarding their lineage was limited. At around 20 I started tracing my mother and father’s ancestry using my grandparents birth as a starting point on the jamaican census births deaths marriages. I narrowed down their parents and followed the family lines. I looked at the early census for my surname and made a note of their details. The trail soon ran dry since my grandparents were all deceased and there was no real way of knowing who their forefathers were. Fast forward just over a decade and DNA testing has now become accessible for the likes of me and you.
It would have been wonderful to share my findings with my grandparents but me and my mom joke about them looking over my shoulder as I search and discover. I took the ancestry DNA test and here are my results
trace regions were
Mali 2% Senegal 2%
2% iberian peninsula 1% Britain 1% Ireland 1% Europe East.
I was surprised with these trace regions and surprised I had no asian DNA. I made a note before my results of what I was expecting. Looking at previous you tube videos I expected to be around 80% African with the remainder being European. So I was surprised that I am 95% african.Ancestry DNA returned 32 pages of relatives mainly 4-5th cousins with a whole host of surnames I had never heard of. I looked at the list and started to make a list of surnames that kept appearing and the names of the people. I started a family tree and ancestry dna led me to develop a family tree that is now pushing 1000 people. I checked some people out on Facebook and was surprised to see family resemblances. Where there was only a vague idea of my history I now have names places and stories that genuinely relate to my own heritage. For example in tracing my paternal grandfathers side I was led to Trelawny Spanish town in Jamaica and St James for both my paternal grandparents lineage. Records dated 1796 called some of them Maroons. I believe that because I had Maroons in my ancestry who were fighters and ran away they would have remained in black communities and were not subject to rape hence I am 95% African.
Uncovering 200 years of family history has taken a while. A place called James Town can be found in Accra Ghana. Elmina Port is where the slaves were shipped from straight to places like Louisianna and the West indies. There were said to be 40 ports along the coasts of Africa. The surname James runs through my ancestry and places in Jamaica and Ghana are called James Town I do not believe that this is a coincidence.
On my mother’s side the trail led to Senegal and Mali which was taken over by the Arabs during the time of the Songhai Empire. People were taken from Mali and Senegal and enslaved in Sudan.
During this time and documented in the amaraic bible the slaves of West Africa were enslaved and feared as they left Israel as only 70 people but multiplied quickly. A side from the bible tale I noted I have no East African ancestry and no East African matches. Before researching the slave era I wondered what might have happened to them. It is documented that arab slavery was different to other types of slavery and the male children and men were killed or castrated or worked to death. Of course this could be historical dramatization.
Finally a few months after doing the DNA test I have some native full blooded African distant cousins. I have researched the ancestry and movements of their family. So far I have managed to pinpoint ancestry in Lagos Nigeria Igbo and possibly Yoruba tribe and the Ga and Akan tribe in Accra. According to the history of the native African surnames I was able to pinpoint where they originated from. My ancestors are showing up as migrating or being taken from Accra Ghana or surrounding regions and possibly Coromantee and Ashanti. I have identified the African surnames from my matches in migration records and their migration seems to fit my DNA Portugal, Spain, England and America and Haiti where I have DNA matches. One African ancestors DNA led to Ghana Accra and the Asere Quarter known as the Kpakpatse We, people which I will be investigating further. I am still looking into my mother’s side but with her looking Sudanese and me having Mali and Senegal DNA it’s possible her African ancestor was from the Mendes Hausa or red Igbo peoples in that region. On a more fun note my boyfriend found my doopleganger (my unrelated twin) and sent me the video the girl is Sudanese and we look exactly the same.
As a very spiritual person I also have an interest in how my ancestors might fit into the bible. This is covered extensively in my other posts regarding the Hebrews. What I have discovered is that because my ancestors were taken to Jamaica where a lot of people became Maroons they are classed as being from the tribe of Benjamin which I found difficult to understand. The bible refers to the Hebrew people as being able to hide in Africa as they looked the same but had different beliefs. The 12 tribes of Israel are identified by their persecution and their life as slaves. The Hebrews according to the Bible follow the spiritual practises of Moses Abraham and Noah and are scattered to the four corners of the earth. According to the Bible the West Africans migrated from Israel and it was the cushite kingdom of Liberia and Sudan that were the original Africans. In researching the Maroons in Jamaica I found that it was the skills they developed in Africa that helped them defend their territory and remain undefeated.
I have added some of the flags of African regions in my DNA. I have done this because as a third generation Jamaican the colours we tend to associate with ourselves are red gold and green sometimes more than the Jamaican flag. My DNA shows a link to those colours and most of the flags in my DNA represent red gold and green. I believe that it is because we are the same tribe of Hebrews. However it is important to note that there are many tribes across Africa and not all have the Hebrew and Jewish practises.
This has been a great journey and it is just the beginning
The flags of my DNA.