I remember the day Chineme was born.
On that day, I went from being an African American with what was thought to be a KiSwahili name, to becoming an African-American, with an Igbo name, to honor the strength and commitment to live, from my Igbo Forefathers.
I choose to remain under the moniker of African American, as my primary identity, because NdIgbo is not all I am. Out of ten generations, beginning with myself (1024 possible ancestors), all the way back to my 7th-8th Great Grandparents, my African Ancestors came from 16+ Ethnic and tribal groups, across the continent of Africa; Whom we have found our biological Africa-born relatives, from those Ethnic and tribal groups. It just so happens that by proportion/ratio, a more significant number of my ancestors, were from Igboland, Nigeria 🇳🇬, than anywhere else, in Africa; AND is present, on all four MAJOR BRANCHES of my family tree. All four grandparents have at-least some Igbo Ancestry, according to their DNA testing, and matching to previously unknown DNA Relatives, living in Nigeria, today.
November 2017, more than two hundred fifty years, after my first known African Ancestor was captured, transported across the Atlantic Ocean, and sold into slavery, I (along with nine others) was welcomed back home and baptized in an African river. To be more precise in the Nigerian waters of Igboland in the Iduuerri Kingdom. The baptism was done by my adoptive uncle -His Majesty, Eze (King/Chief-Priest)ChukwuEmeka Eri.
I suppose, that I was always destined to be the one in the family, to pick up, where my uncle left off 35 years before I would make an attempt at tracing our family’s ancestry, and build our family tree. As I was growing up, technology was becoming more advanced, and the field of genetics was also improving. Not only was it increasingly possible to find at least something about your ancestry, but it had also become possible to identify known and unknown relatives, outside of your immediate family whom you share at least one ancestor, within the last 250-300 years prior.
In doing research, I discovered that my sister (by way of my father), has maternal roots in South Africa, the land of her mother and mother’s family. A family, I was introduced to, at the age of three. My own mother’s family, is a very pro-black family, with family friends, from Africa, whom of which has been present, for at least 20 years of my remembered life. The Caribbean and Afro-Mexican presence in our family of African Americans has been there far longer.
Although my desire to research my roots introduced me to additional African traditions and practices, I have always felt connected to Africa.
My first crush was a Somalian girl. I used to kick a ball purposely in front of her window, just to talk to her, as she was not allowed to come outside. Her brothers would playfully join in the fun of the window conversations. Later, my fifth and sixth-grade crush was an Ethiopian(or Eritrean) girl, by the initials M.B.;
My mother created our city’s very first African and African American cultural festival while in college and at one of the PWI’s I attended, I was an active member (representing for the African Americans/Diaspora), of a student organization called “African Student Union.” I was also a part of the “Black Student Union” (also known as Black United Students).
So…yeah. Destiny. 😌
Honestly, it all started, in 2013, because years before, I went to HS and was friends with an unknown 1st cousin 1x removed ( meaning her Grandfather..is my Uncle), but in college, we almost dated. YIKES! I had also heard that we had once had 200 acres of land, in Alabama. A state, I had never even been to before.
It was time to find out everything I could, about my apparently HUGE family.
I called up my Maternal Grandfather’s 1st cousin, our eldest Patriarch, in the family and began to fire away questions, eventually convincing him to explore a database of records with me, called “Ancestry.com.” He then made the statement, that would eventually land me in Africa ( Ethiopia 🇪🇹, then Nigeria 🇳🇬). He commented “It would be cool if we could trace Richard’s (my 2nd great Grandfather; and his Grandfather) Ancestry, back to Africa.
And me, being the nerd that I am… thought 💭
“Well, why can’t we trace it back to Africa?”
Nearly six years later, and I have not only traced our ancestor’s ancestry, on my mother’s side..but I have also done the same on my father’s side. I have unearthed, unshadowed, and connected with more than fifty LIVING 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th cousins, who are not only biologically related to my family but who are also Africa-born.
My family members initially came from their African families, across Africa, from Senegal to Zimbabwe.
But that doesn’t quite explain how I made it, home, to Africa.
That was an act of kindness. Ever since I started this genealogy journey, I also managed to help others, on their road to discovering their ancestry. I encourage you to start researching your ancestry. To help with your journey, I suggest reading a book called “The Cooking Gene.” The man who wrote this book was very instrumental in helping me with my journey. As a gift of Appreciation, he awarded me a trip to my ancestral home, Nigeria 🇳🇬, where upon landing, and throughout our trip, we heard “WELCOME HOME.”
Those were the words I never knew that my soul NEEDED.
And on this day, the day in the river, baptized by the Monarch of the kingdom of Eri, Chi•ne•me[h] was born.
-Signed, Hasani “Chineme” Carter.
Pick Up The Cooking Gene and start your journey today!