finding your roots

Returning With Spoils

Randy William(s) August 2, 2012

In Jan. 2007 I received my Patriclan result back frm African Ancestry (100% match) with the Fula/Fulani people in Guinea-Bissau today (2007) Ok, I felt the change and I felt the drawing. In Nov. 2009 I set out to celebrate my deceased fathers; 90th birthday and my 50th in the land of our ancestors.
Wow! For 8 days I sat at my hotel and watched all these wonderful people walk by unable to speak a lick to them. The 9th day I met an Irishman there and we set out on a journey to see the Animal Reserve, 3 1/2 hr. drive turned into a day and a half trip. ( Only GOD could have put it together)We ended in Catio, Guine’-Bissau where I met Antonio Djalio who spoke some english and anyone looking on, would have seen “purpose” in charge. This man led me on a “whirl wind”of a tour of the Catio area and the next day I was off back to the Capitol city of Bissau where I met a prominent Pastor and another contact who works for the govt. and I adopted “19-September School” unofficially yet the same my trip I thought was complete without any major events or contacts being made. Late November 2009, I headed back to these U.S. heart broken and feeling helpless, I knew I had failed at making contact with a family member and at the cost of just airfare I knew I might not be returning anytime soon. (What will my siblings say/think of me and my grand idea now?) I wanted to die right then, I can not face my sisters and mom.
I returned home and told my family that I had adopted a school and I wanted to send them some help/aid, so we decided to send 5,000 pens & pencils and in Feb. 2010 I mailed off the last 3 boxes, $510.00 later. (What a lesson we learned)
For the next 4 months I tried to assemble a working “Board” to do something bigger, but couldn’t. So I set out to do it myself and with the help of 1 sister and a few of friends, in April 2011 we shipped a 20′ cargo container of new & used donated goods to be given to the people of Bissau & Catio. (We even collected 2 organs and 1 Yamaha upright piano to be given to the Pastor I had met back in 2009) Someone donated my RT ticket and I was off not knowing what to expect. (But I was returning, and most of all, with a cargo container of “spoils” and “they” said we would never return…lol.) I was received with open arms and was literally taken care of while I was there, this time I stayed for 2 months. I have to date not made any contact with our extended family, but I have found family in these people who may have felt the “World” had forgotten them. I do plan to return in late Aug. to meet the 2nd 20′ container of more specific goods going to the remote area Catio, Guine’-Bissau West Africa.
Searching for our extended family seem to be fairly difficult for myself, however I am watching the people around me when I am in Guine’-Bissau. My friend Antonio, likes a certain sandwich which I thought I was the only partaker of and he does many things my father did on the regular, the old man in Catio look a whole lot like my dad but I better not say anything as not to start any confusion. I may never find my dad’s family, but at this point in my life, I have found a wealth of “family” there, eager to show love to the “African” returning from America with spoils.
The pic is of me standing in the “door of no return” on Goree Island off Dakar’s coast with a bag in my hand.

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  • Angela R Young

    August 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I too have been to Goree Island, almiost 30 yrs ago and it was the most moving experience of my then, young life. The spirits, energy and haunting voices of our ancestors brought me to tears and erupted in a renewed awareness and a transending “reliving” of the horrors of the violence and confusion our foreparents must have felt, being torn away from their home, families, language and culture. Should be on every ones bucket list, no matter where your DNA test points too.

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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