Learning My Country(ies) Of Origin: Cameroon

More than 15 years have passed since the day I was approached by a Ghanaian woman who asked if I was “from home”.  She was the first of over 50 (yes, 50) people who either thought I was from, or told me I looked like someone from Ghana, Africa.

I didn’t give it much thought in the beginning, but as time passed and I met more and more Ghanaians who closely resembled my own family members, I really began to wonder if it was more than just coincidence.  Especially since people from other countries in Africa confirmed this comparison.  What’s equally bizarre is that not a single person believed I looked like I was from any country other than Ghana.

Last year, I decided I should find out for myself during my talks with Siima, my good friend in Uganda.  Siima helped me gain a greater appreciation and love for Africa, particularly her country.  She taught me so much about the rich heritage of my ancestors, current practices, wedding traditions, cultural differences, religious beliefs, food, animal life, entertainment, fashion, politics, etc. Thanks to her, I was able to sift through the lies and stereotypes that Hollywood and other ignorant or deceiving individuals led me to believe.  She also convinced me that I should learn my true beginnings before arbitrarily making travel plans to see various “hot spots” in Africa, frequented by the casual traveler.

Back in April my son and his friend Claire gifted me with the AncestryDNA kit which I promptly submitted for DNA extraction and analysis. The results arrived after several weeks and of course I immediately contacted Siima so that we could have our own “Origin Reveal Party” (hey, you all do it for gender, might as well have one for the discovery of my humble beginnings).  It was only fair that Siima be the first to know, in appreciation for all of her time, input, love and support.

We were BOTH surprised by the results…

Yes, I am of Ghanaian decent, as we surmised, but it is only a smaller part of my genetic design.  The majority of my design is actually comprised of the Cameroon, Congo & Southern Bantu Peoples by a whopping 43%!

My ethnicity estimate is as follows:

43% Cameroon/Congo/Southern Bantu
28% Benin/Tongo
11% Ghana/Ivory Coast
7%   Mali
5%   England/Wales/Western Europe
3%   Nigeria

A few others that make 1% include, but aren’t limited to, Spain, Native American, etc.

Siima shared in my excitement and we both sighed with an exhalation of relief as a 15+ year old question was finally provided an answer.

Initially, I must admit I was a tad disappointed; not in being Cameroonian, but because I had led myself to believe that I was Ghanaian without considering any other possibility.  Siima promptly reminded me that nothing was ever certain and that my conclusion was the result of conversations with the people I’d met along the way, ergo my fixation with Ghana.  Then she immediately filled my mind and heart with adventurous wonder as she shared some of the beautiful aspects of Cameroon and Congo (does this woman’s knowledge base ever END?? WOW!  Love me some Siima).

She told me about the beautiful land, their sports and music (along with several artists I would find enjoyable), introducing me to the genre called Makossa, a very popular style of the urban music scene.  I must say, I’m already digging this music, baby.  Gonna put my own “Cameroon Choons” collection together soon enough. In fact, I’m groovin’ to a fierce Makossa mix as I type this. 

Looks like I’m going to have to learn some French as well because she informed me that this was the predominant language.

So a new project has begun: Research of countries, of which I’m completely unfamiliar, but have already fully embraced. I quickly made the beautiful ladies of Les Lions Indomptables my team during the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 tournament (second only to Team USA).  Favorite team member: #6 Estelle Johnson, defender for NWSL club Sky Blue FC.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that there will be a future post about Cameroon and Congo and the beauty that lies therein.  I’ve already shared the results with my siblings and added these places to my travel itinerary.  Of course, there is now a need to come up with some serious money to pay my debts before I can even HOPE to save up to fly the friendly skies.

Beautiful downtown Yaounde (Capital of Cameroon) at night.

And there you have it. 
Ask me who or what I am and I can now say with confidence and pride…

“I am Cameroonian American, among others. And I’m damn proud of it!”

Already purchased my T-shirt to wear during the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Yes, there will be more…

But don’t worry, my Ghanaian cousins, I still claim and rep Ghana, along with Benin and Tongo.  Cause that’s what makes me who I am, baby…


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