June 6, 2016

My Ancestry - Benin & Togo - My Culture

So I had my DNA done with Ancestry DNA.  One of the great things about having your DNA done with AncestryDNA is that they provide a breakdown on your African DNA if you descend from African ancestry.  Most Dominicans have African ancestry just like its neighbor, Haiti.  The same can be said about Puerto Rico.  One great series to watch on PBS Online is Professor Henry Louis Gates'  "Black in Latin America".  If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.  The show is very informative and makes you realize that the United States didn't receive the highest volume of slaves during the slave trade. It also helps you realize why things are a certain way in many of these countries and how they recognize their culture.  It is a definite must see series.

Now showing certain percentages doesn't mean that you do not have other regions, it means this is what you have inherited via DNA recombination from your Ancestors.  So yes it can be different from sibling to sibling, uncles to nieces and nephews, etc.

So my AncestryDNA states that I carry 14% Benin / Tongo region of Africa.  Am I surprised? Not at all. I am half Puerto Rican and half Dominican with my dad being Puerto Rican and my mother Dominican. I also happen to inherit more African ancestry than my siblings.  In researching Benin, I discovered that the religion of the natives is Vodun.  Well on the island of HispaƱola, not only is Voodoo practiced but so is Santeria, both originate from Vodun. This made perfect sense to me.  You have the Yoruba people who also come from this region.



The region has a rich history that I will be reading up on.  There is plenty to find online regarding the rich culture and history from this region.  I am extremely interested to know more about the people, their history and culture. For example, the native people in Benin built huts on stilts over water to avoid warriors who kidnapped their people to be sold into slavery.  Warriors did not believe in war over water and this help save many from being sold into slavery.

So while many do not realize they have African ancestry, I embrace my entire heritage and wear it as a badge of honor.  Yes I descend not only from European ancestors but most importantly I also inherited a total of 28% African ancestry which is a large portion of my DNA.  In addition, I also inherited Middle Eastern and Taino Indians from both islands.  I am a first generation US mainland born American and I love my country but I also love and recognize my heritage because without my ancestors, I would not be here to share my culture.  Hasta la proxima!

6 comments:

  1. Hi Anna, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I, too, embrace all my Dominican heritage. I've been trying to get more information on my African heritage and the information you shared is very helpful. Have you been able to discover any of your African ancestors?

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    1. Hi!

      I have been able to only connect one line on my paternal side but that line is from Puerto Rico. On my maternal side (DR), via DNA I have been able to connect to Gabon and Ghana through my maternal uncle and aunt, they are siblings and they share the same African cousin that appears on my DNA list.

      Via records I haven't been able to do so as there are many church records that didn't get filmed so it leaves a gap in my research and would require a trip to DR to research further. I haven't been searching as I'm currently in school full time as well as working full time. I plan to give it more attention once I'm done with school in Fall 2017. There are many other resources online that I've come across but haven't posted them yet. I plan to do so soon but they are more about understanding why we have certain customs and where in Africa they come from.

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  2. Hi Anna. It was good to see you sharing some of your history. I too found that I have 26% Benin/Togo in my genealogy. Hey we may be distant cousins.

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    1. Hi,

      We just might! Look to see if you find Bayala on your tree for a surname. I may appear as Berryblue67; my user id. I welcome all my cousins. :)

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  3. I am very interested in learning more about my African ancestry. My DNA African percentage is similar to yours where Benin/Togo is the greatest number. My username is boboyank. Hope we can connect.

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    1. You should definitely join some of the groups on Ancestry that are available. I posted the links in a couple of posts here on my blog. However if you haven't done so, check out websites such as GEDMatch. If you join groups like DNA Tested African Descendants on Facebook, there are many that share there. Check out a member named Fonte Felipe as he's tracking African DNA breakdown from all of the islands.

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