“All I ever knew was that I was from Milwaukee, but recently I took a DNA test and discovered that my recent ancestors are from Ghana and Nigeria. It changed everything for me. It helped me know that my history did not begin with being adopted. It did not begin with slavery. It’s part of why I wear this Afro now. I’m not going to hide who I am.”
— Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers Quarterback)
Life is about cycles, and the great cycle (or spiral) of life is within our own DNA. Although DNA is scientifically called by its Latin classification, Deoxyribonucleic acid, it can simply be understood as your divinity, your nature, and your ancestry. Although the general interest among a sizable number of African-Americans in North America has always been present, the recent endorsements of celebrity figures, influencers, and various social media users has created a surge in the question of “Where do my ancestors come from and what did they do?”
From various samples collected from reputable sites such as AfricanAncestry.com and AncestryDNA, it can be determined that the majority of Black/African-Americans in North America come from the Akan, Asante, Kru, Igbo, Yoruba, Dogon, Wolof, Mende, Tikar, and Moors from various areas of northwest, west and central Africa. This is not to imply African-Americans have no Native or non-African based lineage or DNA, but to embrace the root origins of their ancestry.
It should be understood that although a tribe is defined by a nation of people, it is not always based on the geographical landmass. Case in point, the Akan ethnic group of Ghana and the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), as well as other West African tribes, carry cultural identity, language, and customs of the ancient civilizations of the Nile Valley (Kush-Kemet). Studying our history, as a whole, through great civilizations of the Nile Valley, Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Moroccan, and Great Zimbabwe empires can help us to fully understand the greatness of individual nation states and the ethnic groups we descended from. Some suggested reading for this includes: Blacked Out Through Whitewash by Suzar, Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson, Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization by Anthony T. Browder and Africanism in American Culture by Joseph E. Holloway.
“When I traveled through Africa, I discovered that I belonged to the African family, with 150 million African relations, with an ancient and honorable historic and cultural background.”
— Eslanda “Essie” Goode Robeson (wife of Paul Robeson)
Cultural heritage tourism, also called Cultural tourism, is defined by a person or peoples’ interest in traveling to destinations or designated sites for the wanderlust of partaking in cultural activities, experiencing historical sites (ancient and modern), and/or spiritual or religious ceremony according to their own history, heritage and/or family lineage. With the increasing market value of the travel industry at $8 trillion dollars and the cultural heritage tourism market value for African-Americans around $146 billion dollars in the USA, cultural tourism can also be defined economically. Due to the recent surge in African-American travelers, as well as other Blacks in the diaspora, many African and Caribbean countries have received a great boost in tourism and hospitality related industries. Since many countries rely on the tourism industry as part of their GDP, this presents a unique position for both Blacks in the U.S. and abroad to reconnect with each other through ancestry and heritage, as well as creating numerous economic opportunities.
“A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.”
— El Hajj-Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
Many of our great scholars and activists have given their life to make the rest of us understand the importance of the greatness from which we descend from. We must continue to honor them by continuing their paramount work. “Each one, teach one” is more than a phrase, it’s a duty for people who truly want to help others discover their purpose and own their greatness in life.