Bantucentric: "Our Roots Run Deep"
William Rivers. Courtesy of William Rivers.
The month of February is Black History Month. Since 1976, Black History Month has been the designated month to celebrate and remember great events in American history having to do with black people. While that’s all well and good, I personally believe that not only should every day be a fine time to express and be proud of who you are and where you came from, but that Black History Month should never be solely dedicated to the acts of blacks in America. As a people, we have deep roots all over the world and though it has been made easier to forget where you come from, any human being’s life can be greatly enriched by the knowledge of their own people’s legacy on this Earth.
Personally, it is a pain to not know where I come from. There is hope, though. There are many ways to discover one’s heritage. If you happen to have about $300 dollars burning a hole in your pocket, then you’re welcome to request a specialized DNA test from AfricanAncestry.com, which will give you the full rundown of where your people originated. That’s not the easiest method for the average person, but is probably the most accurate.
A less precise method would just be taking the time to do some intensive research. Ask your older family members about traditions and practices that they were accustomed to as children. There could be something that your family has always done that could be a clue to where in Africa your ancestors came from. So far, I haven’t gotten all the way to Africa with my family, but I have learned that my southern family members are of a people referred to as Gullah. The Gullah people are descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the southern regions of the United States and hold tightly to their African roots. They speak a dialect of English and Creole called Geechee.
Your roots are deeper than they may appear on the outside. If you seem to feel as though you have little to no place outside of this country, silence those thoughts. There is always more to be discovered if you take the time to look for it.
Wishing all of you an enlightening Black History Month. As-Salamu-Alaykum.