How to use ancestry DNA to trace your family

 

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The ancestry DNA test is currently £99 in the UK. You order the test online and it is delivered to your address with an activation code. You activate the code on the Ancestry DNA website and send your spit away to be analysed.

When you receive your results you will also receive a list of DNA matches. I had 24 pages of matches and I now have 34 pages. Each time a match is tested they are added to your matches. You can learn a lot from your DNA matches but you first need to get your head around the website which can be daunting at a first glance.

So what can you learn at first glance from your DNA matches?

The beauty of Ancestry DNA is it allows you to upload pictures and post messages. You can start looking into your genetic makeup by scrolling through your matches. What do the people look like? What are their surnames? It may take you a while to scroll through all of the people but it is worth doing. You might start to see reoccurring surnames or surnames that sound similar.  Make a note of people who have the same surname.

You can take this a step further by clicking onto the person and looking at their profile. From here you can learn where the person is located if they have added this information. You can see their genetic profile and identify which countries and regions you have in common. You can also see which surnames they are researching. If they have uploaded pictures you can see them here.

If you haven’t done it already you should create a family tree as the Ancestry DNA site will then start to give you hints regarding your ancestors.

How to trace your ancestry online

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If you have decided to trace your family lineage you have joined millions of others on that same journey.  Tracing your family requires the same steps regardless of your background. It can seem daunting at first especially if you have little information to go on.

Step 1 Speak to your family and get the names dates and places of your immediate family. A good place to start is grandparents. Once you have the information of your grandparents birth days places of residence and place of birth you can then start to work backwards. Ask aunts uncles and your grandparents siblings if possibe what information they have regarding your family history.

Step 2 Locate the registers of births deaths and marriages for your grandparents parents in the country that they lived. There are places such as http://www.geneology.com and http://www.familysearch.com that hold records you can view online.

Step 3 Broaden your search to include the children as this can later prove invaluable in explaining connections and family links. Research your family surname in war records and make a note of where the people lived.

Step 4 Search the family name online using search engines such as Google.  Someone else may have already started researching your surname.

Step 5 Follow the trail back as far as you can using the records of parents and parents parents parents.

Step 6 Consider taking a DNA test.

Step 7 Ask the elders in the local community, contact teachers and historians as they may hold invaluable information.

You can search births deaths marriages at  www.familysearch.org

 

My carribean african ancestry DNA

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.

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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This has been a great journey and it is just the beginning

The flags of my DNA.

The maroons of jamaica my ancestry

images-16I traced my ancestry as far back as I could go in Jamaica using information given to me by my family before I did a ancestry DNA test. My ancestors were described as Igbo around 1830 on census records, but further back around 1809 they were described as Maroons. I did not know what a Maroon was. I carried on searching and did some research. I discovered that my 6th great grandmother and her sons became Maroons and my 6x great grandmother was a Maroon for nearly 20 years until she was caught and made into a slave again when she was over 50. They lived in Trelawny and St James in Jamaica. I also do not think it is a coincidence that they named the area St James and those particular slaves came mainly from James Town in Ghana. I recall tracing the ancestry back and seeing an ancestor described as being runaway and branded with the letter J but at the time I could not connect the J as it did not match the slave masters name. I believe now that slaves who were not branded with the slave masters name were branded with initials which related to where they were from or what ship they were from.

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My great grandmother x6 called her child Quamin a African Ga Akan and Ashanti day name describing the day he was born. The fact that there were records of my ancestors with African names helped me identify where they were from.  This told me they had ties to Ghana and the Ghana naming ceremony and were described by the slave master as Igbo which suggested a mix of Ghana and Nigeria for their ancestry. I decided to explore this further.

Exploring day names

noun
1.

              (formerly, especially in creole-speaking cultures) name given at birth to a black child, in accordancewith African customs, indicating the child’s sex andthe day of the week on which he or she was born, asthe male and female names for Sunday (Quashee andQuasheba) Monday (Cudjo or Cudjoe and Juba)Tuesday (Cubbena and Beneba) Wednesday (Quacoand Cuba or Cubba)     Thursday (Quao and Abba) Friday(Cuffee or Cuffy and Pheba or    Phibbi) and Saturday(Quamin or Quame and Mimba)

(W Africana name indicating a person’s day of birth

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/quaos

Documentation I found states one of my first ancestors arrived in Jamaica about 1760 however I now think this is incorrect. I have seen other people with the surname and naming patterns that are similar to my relatives in the 19th century listed pre 1760. The documents available often don’t contain enough information for me to push back further than  this. A possibility since my relative was a Maroon is that she lied about how long she was free and could have been born in Jamaica and not Africa. If this were the case she would have to lie as punishment would have been worse if she was from a lineage of Maroons.  Information was purposefully suppressed the further back you go as the whole point was to create a slave that made money and strip them of their identity. It is said that most slaves have 2-3 names. The African name first slave name and later a new name if they were baptised or a new name once made free. Hence there are a lot of Freeman’s this was a popular name after slavery that ex slaves chose for themselves.

 

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Nanny town in jamaica is named after nanny of the maroons (1686-1755). Nanny is one of Jamaica’s national hero’s.  Nanny was from the ashanti tribe. The first nanny town was destroyed during the first maroon war in 1734. Maroons were african slaves who fled their captors and lived in the mountains.

Slaves from africa are described as coromantee Igbo Ashanti Fulani and Akan which relates to their tribes in africa. The slaves revolted against their enslavement and banded together living in the mountains. Some maroons were later deported to Sierra Leone.

I read this quote which puts it into context “During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Akan, Ga, and Adangbe from the northwestern coastal region known as the Gold Coast (around modern Ghana) dominated the slave trade to the island.” Until around 1776. In my research and DNA testing I discovered a family connection to the GA and Adangbe.

Also

See the link below for information on the tribes from Ghana as these often correlate with the slaves found in the US and Carribean islands. The Ghanian Embassy provide information on their heritage lineage and current tribes. Here is an extract from their site


Major Cities

Accra, the capital, has a population of 10% out of the total population. Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region. Sekondi has an artificial harbor and was the first modern port built in Ghana. Other major cities include Tema, Tamale, and Cape Coast. People living in urban areas account for 37 percent of the population

The Capital   

Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana, southeastern Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Accra is an important commercial, manufacturing, and communications center. It is the site of an international airport and a focus of the country’s railroad system, including a link to nearby Tema, which since 1962 has served as the city’s deepwater port. Industries include vehicle and appliance assembly, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of foodstuffs, textiles, metal and wood products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. A sprawling city, Accra presents a varied appearance, with buildings of modern, colonial, and traditional African architecture. Of note here are the 17th-century Christiansborg Castle, now the residence of the chief of state, and the National Museum (1957). Several research and technical institutes are located in Accra, and the University of Ghana (1948) is in the nearby town of Legon. The site of what is now Accra was occupied by villages of the Ga, the local people, when the Portuguese first visited here in the late 15th century. During the 17th century the Portuguese were forced to withdraw by the Dutch, who, along with the Danes and the English, founded rival trading posts, which became the settlements of Ussher Town, Christiansborg, and James Town, respectively.

In the 19th century Britain purchased Dutch and Danish rights in the area, and in 1876 Christiansborg was made the capital of the Gold Coast Colony. The three separate towns grew and gradually coalesced to form the city of Accra. Much of the modern city’s layout was planned in the 1920s, and since then growth has been rapid. Accra remained the capital city, when in 1957 the Gold Coast Colony became the independent state of Ghana. Population (1990 estimate) 953,500.


Language and Religion

Language

English is the official language of Ghana and is universally used in schools in addition to nine other local languages.The most widely spoken local languages are, Ga, Dagomba, Akan and Ewe.

Religion

Traditional religions accounts for two-fifths of the population. The Christian population also accounts for two-fifths of the total population and includes Roman Catholics, Baptist, Protestants, etc. The Muslim population (12 percent of the total) is located chiefly in the northern part of the country

http://www.ghanaembassy.org see their population page.

Back to Nanny of the maroons Wikipedia

Historical documents refer to her as the “rebels’ old ‘obeah‘ woman.” Following some armed confrontations, colonial officials reached a settlement for peace. They legally granted “Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs … a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland …

MaroonsEdit

The Maroons are descendants of West Africans, mainly people from the Ashanti region of what is today Ghana. After being brought to Jamaica in the course of the Transatlantic slave trade, many slaves fled from the oppressive conditions of plantations and formed their own communities in the rugged, hilly interior of the island. A minority of slaves originated from other regions of Africa, including the Congo and Madagascar; they were known as Coromantie or Koromantee, and were considered ferocious fighters.[3] People who escaped from slavery joined the other Maroons.[3]

Later, after the British assumed control of the colony, more slaves escaped from to join the two main bands of Windward and Leeward Maroons. By the early 17th century, these were headed respectively by Nanny of the Maroons and Captain Cudjoe. Between 1655 until the 1830s, these Maroons led most of the slave rebellions in Jamaica, helping to free slaves from the plantations. They raided and then damaged lands and buildings held by plantation owners.[3]

The Maroons also contributed to the cooking technique of jerking, adapted from the Arawak. Chicken or pork pieces were cooked over a low fire using green pimento wood. The smoke was smothered in order to escape detection by British forces.[5]

Life and workEdit

Nanny was born into the Ashanti tribe about 1686 in what is now Ghana, West Africa.[4] It is believed that some of her family members were involved in intertribal conflict and her village was captured. Nanny and several relatives were sold as slaves and transported to Jamaica. There she was likely sold to a plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, just outside the Port Royal area. The commodity crop was sugarcane, and the slaves toiled under extremely harsh conditions to cultivate, harvest and process it. Another version of her life tells that she was of royal African blood and came to Jamaica as a free woman. She may have been married to a man named Adou, but had no known children who survived.[3]

As a child, Nanny was influenced by other slave leaders and maroons. She and her “brothers”, Accompong, Cudjoe and Quao, ran away from their plantation and hid in the Blue Mountains area of northern Saint Thomas Parish.[4] While in hiding, they split up to organize more Maroon communities across Jamaica: Cudjoe went to Saint James Parish and organized a village, which was later named Cudjoe Town; Accompong settled in Saint Elizabeth Parish, in a community that came to be known as Accompong Town;[6] and Nanny and Quao founded communities inPortland Parish.

Nanny became a folk hero. The British were unsuccessful in their attacks on Nanny Town, thanks to its strategic location, and her idea to control access to it. They fought off soldiers despite being outnumbered. Cudjoe also led slave rebellions in Jamaica.

By 1720, Nanny and Quao had settled and controlled an area in the Blue Mountains. It was given the name Nanny Town, and consisted of 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land granted by the government to the refugee slaves under a 1739 treaty ending the First Maroon Wars. Nanny Town had a strategic location overlooking Stony River via a 900-foot (270 m) ridge, making a surprise attack by the British practically impossible.[4] The Maroons at Nanny Town also organized look-outs for such an attack, and designated certain warriors to be summoned by the sound of a horn called anabeng.

The community raised animals, hunted, and grew crops. Maroons at Nanny Town and similar communities survived by sending traders to the nearby market towns to exchange food for weapons and cloth. It was organized very much like a typical Ashantisociety in Africa.

The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantations, and leading freed slaves to join their mountain communities. Nanny was highly successful at organizing plans to free slaves. During a period of 30 years, she was credited with freeing more than 1000 slaves, and helped them to resettle in the Maroon community.[4]

Leadership and ObeahEdit

Many in her community attributed Nanny’s leadership skills to her obeah powers.[7] Obeah is an African-derived religion that is still practised in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and TobagoGuyana,BarbadosBelize and other Caribbean countries. It is associated with both good and bad magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations, aspects of Obeah have survived through synthesis with Christian symbolism and practice introduced by European colonials and slave owners.

Nanny’s tribe of origin, Ashanti, strongly resisted Europeans in West Africa and the New World. She was also likely influenced by her brothers and other Maroons in Jamaica.

Nanny possessed wide knowledge of herbs and other traditional healing methods, practised by Africans and native islanders. She served as a physical and spiritual healer to her community, which in turn would elevate her status and esteem.

DeathEdit

In the Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, 29–30 March 1733, is a citation for “resolution, bravery and fidelity” awarded to “loyal slaves … under the command of Captain Sambo”, namely William Cuffee, who was rewarded for having fought the Maroons in the First Maroon War and who is called “a very good party Negro, having killed Nanny, the rebels old obeah woman”.[8] These hired soldiers were known as “Black Shots”.[9]

Another record states that in 1739, a parcel of land named Nanny Town was awarded to “Nanny and her descendents” under a treaty with the colonial government.[10] Some claim that Queen Nanny lived to be an old woman, dying of natural causes in the 1760s. The exact date of her death remains a mystery. Part of the confusion is that “Nanny” is an honorific, and many high-ranking women were called that in Maroon Town. However, the Maroons are adamant that there was only one “Queen Nanny.”



LegacyEdit

In 1739 the British governor in Jamaica signed a treaty with the Maroons, promising them 2500 acres (10 km²) in two locations. They were to remain in their five main towns – Accompong, Trelawny Town, Mountain Top, Scots Hall, Nanny Town – living under their own chiefs with a British supervisor in each town. In exchange, they agreed not to harbour new runaway slaves, but to help catch them for bounties. The Maroons were also expected to fight for the British in the case of an attack from the French or Spanish.

Nanny is known as one of the earliest leaders of slave resistance in the Americas, and one of few women in that role. She is celebrated in Jamaica and abroad.

  • The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1976. Her portrait graces the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a “Nanny”.[12]
  • Nanny’s Monument is located in Moore Town, Portland, Jamaica.[13

Wikipedia also states

Nanny was born in what is now GhanaWest Africa, as a member of the Ashanti nation, part of the Akan people. She was enslaved, along with her five brothers, and brought to eastern Jamaica. She and her five brothers, CudjoeAccompong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao, quickly decided to flee the oppressive conditions of the sugar cane plantations to join the autonomous African communities of Maroons who had developed in the mountains. This community originated from people formerly enslaved by the Spanish, who had refused to submit to British control. This community developed as many more slaves escaped the plantations and joined the Maroons. Angered by continued raiding of plantations and armed confrontations, the colonial government mounted the FirstMaroon War of the 1730s in an effort to run out and capture the refugee slaves.

Nanny and her brothers split up in order to continue the resistance to the plantation slave economy across Jamaica. Cudjoe went to Clarendon, where he was soon joined by about a hundred Maroons from Cottawood; while Accompong went to St. Elizabeth, where a Maroon community was later named for him. Nanny and Quao made their way to Portland Parish and the Blue Mountains.

By 1720, Nanny and Quao had organized and were leading this settlement of Maroons; it was known as Nanny Town. According to a deed from the colonial government, Nanny was granted more than 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land where the Maroons could live and raise animals and grow crops. Due to the town being led by Nanny and Quao, it was organized similarly to a typical Ashanti tribe in Africa.

In addition to what they raised and produced, the Maroons sent traders to the cities to exchange food for weapons and cloth. The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantation, and leading liberated slaves to join them at Nanny Town.

Nanny Town was an excellent location for a stronghold, as it overlooked Stony River via a 900-foot ridge, making a surprise attack by the British virtually impossible. The Maroon organized look-outs for such an attack, as well as designated warriors, who could be summoned by the sound of a horn called an abeng.

Granny Nanny was very adept at organizing plans to free slaves. She has been credited with freeing more than 800 slaves over the span of 50 years. She also helped these slaves remain free and healthy due to her vast knowledge of herbs and her role as a spiritual leader. However, freeing slaves upset the British. Between 1728 and 1734, they attacked Nanny Town time and time again, but not once was it harmed. This was accomplished due to the Maroons being much more skilled in fighting in an area of high rainfall as well as disguising themselves as bushes and trees. The Maroons also utilized decoys to trick the British into a surprise attack. This was done by having non-camouflaged Maroons run out into view of the British and then run in the direction of the fellow Maroons who were disguised, thus crushing the British time and time again.

End of Wikipedia Extract Further information about Nanny’s family from Wikipedia below.

Nanny’s Brother Cudjoe 

Cudjoe, or Captain Cudjoe (c. 1690 – 1744),[1] sometimes spelled Cudjo[2] – corresponding to the Akan day name Kojo or Kwadwo – was a Maroon leader in Jamaica during the time of Nanny of the Maroons. He has been described as “the greatest of the Maroon leaders.”[3]

The Jamaican Maroons are descended from runaway slaves who established free communities in the mountains of Jamaica during the era of slavery on the island. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways, apparently mixing with theNative American Taino or Arawak[citation needed] people that remained in the country. Some may have gained liberty when the English attacked Jamaica and took it in 1655, and subsequently. For about 52 years, until the 1737 peace treaty with the British rulers of the island, the Maroons stubbornly resisted conquest.

See this documentary on the maroons of Kojos place https://youtu.be/36B_I8qjPJo

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Transatlantic journey from West Africa to beyond

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