Uhmah Park


17. Knowledge of self.

When I got back, I checked my mailbox for my AfricanAncestry.com results, every day, no dice. They were right on schedule, but I’m excited. Then out of nowhere, I get a little freaked out. My life is about to be changed forever; I didn’t realize that when I decided to take this DNA test. I was already feeling connected to Africa, but now it’s going to be official. I’m about to have another flag I can raise like everyone else in America. I feel like I’m going to meet my long lost family for the first time. I’ve always tried to guess what my bloodline is when I watch different documentaries and YouTubers from Africa. But all that is going to come to an end soon. No more guessing. Not long after that, my results were at my door. 

Flashback to the moment I put the DNA kit in the mail. I said to myself “damn, it would be crazy if I was Nigerian somehow.” In the movie of my life, at this moment, pictures of my Nigerian friends; a handful of very beautiful lovers from the past; my barber; the first person I met that was from the continent, whom I don’t remember at all, but I know they were from Nigeria for sure. CJ and Albert would also make an appearance in this montage, even though they would be out of sync with the timeline. But I could see myself asking the director to include them because I feel bad that there is a very slight possibility that I am wrong about “Albert” being “Albert’s” name as well. I say this for comedic reasons, but it may also be true. Hopefully not, but if it is, I hope that them having a role in my movie would somewhat make up for it.

I don’t know everything about being Nigerian, but I’m definitely familiar. I know that these results will forever determine my stance on the great jollof rice debate. I’m either on the wrong side of history or I’m not. I also know that they have a land reclamation project in Lagos that looks amazing. However I do not know anything about the ethnic groups of Nigeria or any other African nation and that’s what I truly cared about. 

Back to the moment of truth. Turns out that I don’t really have a long lost family to meet, under the circumstances I originally thought. They’ve been in my life for as long as I can remember. God has been dragging me through a long troll for my entire life up until the moment I cracked open that envelope with my family on facetime. African Ancestry traced my DNA back to the Yoruba people of Nigeria. I was truly shocked. 

I would have been happy to be from any ethnic group in West Africa but the fact that I’ve had Nigerians in my life for so long, caused a moment of pause in the middle of all of my excitement and joy. A piece of me felt like I wanted to turn to God and ask him “Foreals player?! You could have led with this, years ago. I could have been making friends at soccer rehearsal this whole time!” I used to feel like an outsider around other Africans from the continent when they would talk about or do things specific to their countries. But now when I’m around my Nigerian friends, I don’t have to feel like such an outsider anymore. When my Nigerian friends explain to me how Nigerians do things, they also explain to me my own history and culture of the people group my family was taken from a long time ago. 

I used to feel alone as far as being Black. I felt like it was Black Americans against the world because no one loves us. We don’t get the same love we give. I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel like my family got bigger. I feel like I have real options outside of the United States. I truly feel a deep connection to Africa. As lame as it sounds, I feel like I’ve broken free of the mental chains of slavery. The mention of slavery doesn’t feel or sound the same as it did before I went.

I know and accept Africa isn’t perfect and has its problems with corruption, poverty, wars and a list of other negatives. But I don’t care. That’s going to be a problem anywhere on this planet. The United States Congress and Senate is saturated with corruption. I come from a place where there is poverty every where. That place is within the borders of the United States and there are several just like it. I don’t see anything wrong with “romanticizing” Africa. If loving Africa is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Africa is my ancestral homeland. My family was involved in one of the biggest human trafficking ring the world has ever seen hundreds of years ago; that’s 1000% the only reason I wasn’t born there. When I go to Africa I’m treated like I am at home. So in my eyes it’s foolish to deny Africa. As an “African American” I feel like I can enjoy the amenities America has to offer and have a happy life in Africa at the same time. Other races from other parts of the world go back and forth between their respective ancestral homeland’s and America all of the time. There is no reason why I can’t do the same. 

God willing, I will be (“back”) in southwestern Nigeria at some point in the near future. Cuba as well, I really like it there. 


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