Roots to Africa Can Get Complicated

When William Holland traveled from Atlanta to Cameroon to dig into his family roots, the quest succeeded beyond his wildest dreams: AWilliam Holland, a genealogical researcher from Atlanta, dances to the left of Fon Angwafo III, the king of the Mankon tribal group in Cameroon, during a ceremony. Courtesy of William Holland blend of genetic testing and genealogical sleuthing connected him with one of the West African nation’s royal families. The king of Mankon, a region in Cameroon, embraced Holland so completely that the American was ceremonially given the name of the king’s father.

But now Holland is facing an embarrassment of genealogical riches: Since he first came upon his royal connection, he has determined that he’s genetically linked not only with nobility in Cameroon, but also with a different clan in Ghana, hundreds of miles to the west.

“I think I’m getting toward the end of it … but with this group, you have thousands of thousands of people,” Holland told me as he headed for another extended-family reunion in Ghana.

Holland’s experience demonstrates how the search for family roots in Africa doesn’t always result in the neat succession of generations that was portrayed in the 1977 miniseries “Roots.” It also suggests that Black History Month, which Americans observe every February, might more aptly be called Black Histories Month.

Read the full article by Alan Boyle in the Cosmic Log on

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