Vincy couple traces roots back to Africa
August 25, 2006
Vincy couple traces roots back to Africa

When they got married June last year Fidel “Mo Ri Oliva” and Felicia “Ke Ke L’Oran” Neverson never thought that they would be rekindling a linkage that stems hundreds of years between the Tikar and Bamileke ethnic groups of the Central African nation of Cameroon. And historically speaking they are in fact related.

Fidel and Felicia have joined the 8,000-plus persons of African descent who have been able to get a glimpse of their family tree beyond the Atlantic thanks to the three-year-old organization appropriately called African Ancestry. Included in this list is Le Var Burton of the television Series “Roots” and acclaimed black film maker Spike Lee.{{more}}

African Ancestry has compiled a database of over 25,000 African lineages from 300 ethnic groups coming from 30 African countries. So from a simple cheek swab someone, like former United Nations delegate and American black activist Andrew Young can determine that he has connections to the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone and that he is a distant cousin of Amistad of the 1839 slave rebellion.

“We always wanted to find out where we were from, who we really are,” said Fidel when he spoke to SEARCHLIGHT recently. He and his wife were living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and found out about the work of African Ancestry when they attended the Pan African Book Fest in 2005. They waited a few months, but decided that February this year, black history month, was perfect for this African conscious couple to peep into their history. They have unraveled to a large extent the mystery that had left a question mark in their heads for years.

“I have a sense of closure,” commented Felicia, as she made no attempt to hold back her excitement while speaking to SEARCHLIGHT. “I feel angry though, I feel robbed, not being able to know all about myself,” she added. Felicia was found to have a 100% match with the Bamileke tribe from Cameroon.

Fidel’s results indicate that in addition to his maternal linkage to the Tikar, Mafa and Kotoko tribes, his paternal side reveals a 50 percent European ancestry. It was not uncommon for European slave owners to sexually interact with their slaves.

Fidel, a Vinlec engineer and his wife are the first Vincentians to have used the much-touted procedure. They are in fact part of a small contingent of Caribbean Nationals who have done it, following a few persons from St. Kitts and the US Virgin Islands.

Now Fidel and Felicia originally of Villa and Calliaqua respectively are encouraging others to pursue this service being offered. “It is a liberating experience” said Fidel as he proudly clutched his official ancestry certificate in his hands.