For the longest time, I’ve wanted to have my DNA tested in order to learn more about my ancestry. I only knew a limited amount of information on my family tree – I confidently know back to my great-grandparents on both sides but that’s it. Also, coming from a large family with lots of extended cousins and relations with lots of family stories, I just wanted a solid, concrete idea of my background rather than relying on family guesswork.
HOW THE PROCESS WORKS?
So, for me the process from start to finish was very quick, a lot quicker than expected. I had endlessly watched YouTube videos of people sharing their result and most people said their results came in in around 6 -8 weeks. My own process took 4 weeks all in all from buying the kit through to receiving the results.
I ordered my testing kit on October 14th, received it on the 17th, activated it online on the 24th. The lab had received my sample by November 3rd, the lab testing began on the 5th and I received my results on November 15th.
On receiving the DNA kit, you have to spit it a tube and send it away in a prepaid package to be tested in the labs.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW?
As a black British person with Caribbean heritage, I always knew that it was safe to say that I had descended from African slaves. My ancestors didn’t originate from the Caribbean. The indigenous people of the Islands belonged/belong to tribes such as the Arawaks, Caribs and Taínos. Due to the transatlantic slave trade, around 12-15 million Africans from many different tribes and nations were forcefully removed from their native lands. They were taken to be slaves in America, the Caribbean and various countries on the South American continent.
Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834
The slave trade took place between the 15 and 19th centuries and so it was too long ago for me to know where exactly my family originate from. Slaves were considered as property rather than people and they didn’t feature on censuses until the 19th century I believe. They were sold to different owners and thus their names would be frequently changed. Due to these factors, it is quite difficult for black people living now to trace and research their family history without any definite knowledge. Black people from Africa were stripped of their original identity and culture – for this reason it was important to me to find out any valuable information on what makes me who I am.
As far as I knew, I am half Jamaican and half Vincentian and that was it.
Enter Ancestry DNA.
My results showed my genetic makeup was estimated to be from Nigeria, Benin & Togo, the Ivory Coast & Ghana, Cameroon & Congo, Mali, Africa Southeastern Bantu and the Iberian Peninsula (which is Spain and Portugal). I was so happy to discover that my European ancestry was from Spain. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I’m obsessed with all things Spanish. I had Spanish speaking lessons from a young age and I have a real passion for languages, particularly Spanish so I was absolutely thrilled to know that I have Spanish blood.
I think everyone should get their ancestry DNA results as it opens up a wealth of information. Now I know that my ancestors came from Nigeria, Ghana and other places in Africa. Obviously, I still identify as black British with Caribbean heritage but it’s good to know where my ancestors originated and I now know where my love for all things Spanish comes from. I think it’s important for me to acknowledge and appreciate my past and my ancestors who have paved the way for me to be where I am right now. If you want to know more about your family history definitely get tested, it’s well worth the money!
Ancestry DNA also connects you with other people on their database who are related to you and I actually have 24 4th cousins or closer. With the information that the DNA testing gives you can do so much more than just having the sheer knowledge. Not only is your DNA simply analysed and matched up with others, but Ancestry DNA gives a plethora of historical and cultural information on all the ethnic backgrounds. This is great so that one can learn about the history of the cultures they may have as part of their genetic background.
Going forward, I plan to further research my African ancestry and find out what specific tribes I may come from and I perhaps have any ancestral links with music making!