Finding Out Where I'm REALLY From...

by - Monday, January 09, 2017

Pretty much all my life, I've had an interest in discovering more about my ancestry. Mostly because my great grandmother on my mother's side (who is from Guyana) is thought to have Portuguese heritage. In a way, this isn't surprising seeing as Guyana's largest neighbour is Brazil. However, because we don't know much else about her - such as whether her family emigrated to Guyana before she was born or if she moved there later in life, I've always been curious to find out more. My mum and I share this interest so, for her birthday my sister and I decided it would be a nice idea to buy her a DNA kit.

After quite a bit of research, we decided to go with Ancestry DNA's kit (it was a tight competition between that and 23andMe). We chose Ancestry DNA mainly because it was cheaper (£79 plus £20 p&p) but also because 23andMe gives you a lot of scientific information about your genetic health, traits etc. Since my mum isn't interested in all that extra info, the obvious choice was Ancestry DNA. All the kit required was a saliva sample which you send off in a test tube and after a few weeks of analysis, they show you the results through your own Ancestry account. We received ours just before Christmas, so it was essentially an early present for all of us!

The results, for the most part, aren't entirely shocking. As both my grandparents on my mother's side were born in the Caribbean (Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago) we were obviously expecting my mum to have a high amount of African ancestry. That made up about 60% of her genealogy. As for the rest... well, they weren't quite as expected.

As you can see, our ancestry is pretty diverse. There are apparently very few regions in Africa that my mum doesn't have some connection with (African South-Central Hunter-Gatherers? I mean how cool). What we weren't expecting, however, is where in Europe we're from. As I mentioned before, we were always under the impression that my great grandmother was Portuguese - which turned out to be right! However, we've also found out that she was from a mixture of areas: France, Spain, Germany and Sweden! 

I would honestly recommend this kit to anyone who wants to find out a bit more about their heritage. As a black girl who is pretty fair-skinned, people are always asking me where I'm from (I've actually had people assume I'm mixed race). Finally, after years of wondering, I can give people an answer with a fair amount of certainty! The best part about Ancestry's DNA kit is that it doesn't stop there. As more and more people take the test, you're able to discover distant family members. My mum has been messaging a man who is apparently her 4th cousin in the hopes that she can learn even more about our family tree.

All in all, finding out these results is actually really humbling. People nowadays assume they're from one region and that's it. Although I knew that my family definitely isn't, it's weird to know just how diverse our ancestry really is. After scrolling through the list of possible 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins, I've realised that I'm connected with people literally all over the world. As I've always said, there's nothing wrong with a bit of globalisation, and clearly it's been happening for centuries ;)

Natalie x 

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