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!