As I grow older the urge to know the stories about my ancestors, and what their lives were like, grows stronger. Who were they? Where did they come from? And especially how did they impact my life?
I wanted to go beyond the traditional family tree, which as we know is as good as the information collected, archived and passed down orally throughout the years. So I opted to have a DNA test done by a leading U.S. genealogical institute. I knew years ago from ‘known facts’ told by my family that I had Jewish ancestry and that our family came from slaves taken from the African continent. Nothing more. That is why many times I felt tongue-tied when asked “what are you exactly?” Usually my answer was “mixed”. But if the follow-up question was “what kind of mix”, I had no answer, that is until last week when the somewhat surprising results popped up in an email.
Turns out I am very mixed: my ancestors came from a total of 17 ethnicity regions. I am 35% African (including North Africa). The majority of my African DNA comes from the region of Mali, then Benin, Togo, Algeria and Nigeria. I am 26% European Jewish primarily located in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Israel. West Asia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran) is 12% responsible for my DNA; 10% from the Iberian Peninsula; 7% comes from the Middle East; 5% indigenous people of the Americas. The rest of my DNA according to the test is probably traceable to Ireland, Southeast Asia and Italy/Greece. Heck, the only regions that have not contributed to my DNA are West Europe, Scandinavia, Polynesia and Melanesia.
In 1925 Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi predicted that the man of the future will be of mixed race. Turns out he was right, but I guess my ancestors were multiracial pioneers to have started this process a few centuries before his prediction. But seriously, being multiracial should teach us to respect and understand the ethnicity, religion and culture of others. We should collectively do this as a multiracial society. Nationalistic fanaticism further increased by politicians who preach racial and ethnic politics, only to obtain votes has taught us that race and religion are powder kegs that when lit, are difficult to contain. We should be proud to say that comparatively we here in Curaçao have a peaceful multiracial country. We should not let anyone gamble with it. Most importantly, each citizen has an obligation to promote understanding and harmony across races and religions.