African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Father Nigeria Guyana Belize 1890s Belize, formerly British Honduras

My great great grandfather was a metalsmith from Nigeria (igbo) who (moved or was taken) to Guyana, where his father was a master goldsmith. My grandfather, Dr. Pakeman, was the first Black dentist in Belize, but in his spare time, he'd make gold jewelry, as dentists back then, they made their own crowns, etc. When I was about 30, I started making my own jewelry, not knowing my family history. I took one metalsmithing class and the teacher asked me if I had ever done this before. Three years later, my father told me matter-of-factly that not only my grandfather but my great great grandfather were goldsmiths! I was floored! Today, my family name is still well known in Belize. I have had my own business for 10 years, "Amaka Jewelry" dedicated to my ancestor from whom I inherited my skill. "Amaka" means beautiful in Igbo. I've designed for and have had pieces purchased by many artist including Jill Scott, Phylicia Rashaad and Iyanla Vanzant. I also found out 3 years ago that I had an aunt "Matouse" in Belize who was a lapidarist (stone cutter) which is something that I've always wanted to learn.

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Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
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