09 Aug Reclaiming Your African Ancestry
Words can not explain how it feels to be returned to your people, returned to your culture, returned to your home, returned to yourself. I returned to the African continent this year, being only, the second time in my life.
My trip to Ghana was educational, empowering, and even life-changing; however, my trip to Sierra Leone was not only empowering but healing.
Imagine being taken from your home and shipped off to a country where you do not know anyone, do not speak the language, and know nothing of the food or the culture. Now imagine that you did so, with shackles and chains on your hands, and feet.
Imagine after some time you have children, and those children have children, and those children have children, and maybe even those children have children. They know nothing of your home, the culture, the language, the food. The land and the descendants of the people that took you, unwillingly from yours; they now call home. This is not a work of fiction, but the story of millions of Americans of African descent.
Three years ago, a company by the name of African Ancestry began to facilitate opportunities for those who had learned of their African Ancestry through DNA to return to the very lands, from which their ancestors were stolen, abused, raped, and even killed to be brought to the new Americas or the United States as we call it today.
Over 300 Americans of African descent have reclaimed their African Ancestry in the country of Sierra Leone in West Africa. We have returned home, reclaimed our citizenship, our birthright, our food, our language, our culture, our inheritance of who we are, where we came from, and how we can move forward as a people.
In April of 2022, I returned to Sierra Leone with African Ancestry. I took my shoes off and walk barefoot on the same painful rocks, stones, and shells at Bunce Island, that my ancestors walked before they eventually were brought to the United States. They were brought here to work and toil, unpaid, in unhealthy conditions to build and develop a country not of their own, and not for themselves, but for those that had enslaved them, while their own homes began to fall in ruin, while their lands were being pillaged for its natural resources and shipped miles away. Here today I still witness, and experience prejudice, racism, and injustices almost 400 years later. I pay thousands of dollars for university tuition, yet more than five of my ancestors were sold to keep the doors of another from closing.
While in Sierra Leone I also spent some time at Tasso Island. Tasso Island is the Island that the enslavers of Bunce Island used for farming and getting pure water. Today it is the home to about 5,000 Temne people, in conditions that 300 years later have not changed and possibly are worse due to climate change and other environmental factors.
Through African Ancestry DNA testing, I learned that I am of Temne Ancestry. Temne blood runs through my veins, and so the Temne people conducted a naming ceremony and welcomed me home as “Ruqor Kargbo”, which means the firstborn. I am in fact my mother’s firstborn, but I am also the first in my family to ever return home, the first in my family to reclaim their African Ancestry, birthright, heritage, and culture. The first in my family to begin healing from post-traumatic slave syndrome. The chains of the body may have come off, but the chains of the mind and spirit will take generations to heal. This healing will begin with me, but I pray that it does not end with me.