My family tree

Have you asked yourself where your family roots come from?

I remember asking this question a long time ago. It’s not recent. When I was a child, together with my sisters, whenever we heard the song African from the álbum Equal Rights, by the Jamaican Singer, Peter Tosh, written in 1977, we used to ask my mom: Did we come from Africa?

These are parts of the lyrics of the song:

Don’t care where you come from

As long as you’re a black man

You’re an African

(CHORUS)

No mind your nationality

You have got the identity of an African

I think the words of this song are clear; if we are black, our ancestral roots came from Africa.

Nowadays, a lot of people, including celebrities, get the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) test done to know the origin of their family roots. I have not done the test, but I decided to research with my family members about our ancestral tree.

My story is not far different from others, it started millions of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Through the 16th to 19th centuries, the transatlantic slave trade took place by Portuguese, British, French, Spanish, and Dutch who were the main traders. The vast majority of these slaves were transported to the New World from West African countries.

It was done in a triangular route. Ships were loaded with goods like guns, ammunition, metals and other materials from Europe. The second stop was to enslave Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to *America especially to the Caribbean Islands. The last and third stop was to pick up and take goods to Europe from America like sugar, cotton, cacao and tobacco, which were slaves-labour productions. Also, they took gold, silver and other precious metals.

The British and other conquerors extended their colony throughout Central America. In 1847, the British announced that the Mosquitia Coast stretching from the North of Honduras to the South of Río San Juan in Nicaragua was their territory. 

According to the Nicaraguan writer, Sergio Ramírez, in his book Tambor Olvidado, expresses that at least five different ethics groups from West African countries like Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Congo, Angola, Senegal, Gambia, Benin and Biafra were traded to the New World.

Pablo Lévy, a French diplomatic who had access to colonial documents en 1871, confirms that the majority of slaves introduced to Nicaragua were of the Yolofes (from Senegal and Gambia) tribe. They were tall, slim and had black skin, similar to Afro descent people in our country. (Ramírez, Sergio. Tambor Olvidado. 2007, page 39).

I remember that at one of my Finnish language courses, I was asked by another African: Are you an Ethiopian? I was astonished by the question. Nowadays, when they ask me, I smile and say “no” regardless that Ethiopian women have told me “you can be one of us”.

So really who were my ancestors, what were the given names, how did they meet one another to become part of my family tree? My family tree is interbreeding. Part of my ancestors was on native land in America upon the arrival of the conquerors; another part came sailing from Africa and Europe.

From my mother’s side, my roots are a mix of European, African and American.

Great- great-grandparents, had British and African heritage.

Great – grandfather was from San Andres Island (Colombia).

Great-grandmother from Bluefields (Nicaragua).

Grandmother was from Bluefields (Nicaragua).

Grandfather from Providence (Colombia).

My mother is from Bluefields ( Nicaragua).

“Lemuel, (my great-great-grandfather), was from San Andres, Colombia. He came with three of his brothers. All of them made their living in Bluefields, South Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.’ He got married to Emelina, native from Bluefields”, said Ened Hodgson.

Emilina was a housekeeper and Lemuel a carpenter. They had three children. The second child of this marriage was my grandmother Carolina Leticia Hodgson Hodgson. She was a strong woman, strict, organizer, respectful, humble, housewife and family provider.

Most of my school vacations, I spent in Bluefields. I remember she was tall; slim, light skin, long hair (mostly braid in two ponytails), long arms and fingers. These two last features I inherited from her. Regardless of her character, she was sweet and tender.

My grandfather, Edgar Samuel Newball, was from Providence, a Caribbean island of Colombia, located 208 kilometres east of Bluefields, Nicaragua. The island of Providence was an English Puritan colony established in 1629. The famous pirate, Henry Morgan, used Providence as a base for raiding the Spanish Empire.

According to a study by June Maria Maw entitled “Dreaming between two worlds”, the native islanders of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina, claim they are Britist because they descended from Henry Morgan.  The natives are also descendants of slaves brought from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.

On the other hand, from my father’s side, my roots are also from Africa, Europe, and America.

Great-great- great- grandfather was from Spain (Europe).

Great-great grandfather was from Jamaica (Caribbean Island).

Great- great- grandparents were from the indigenous communities of Karata, Klingna, and Bluefields (Nicaragua).

Great- grandmother was from Karata (Nicaragua).

Great-grandfather was from Bluefields (Nicaragua).

My father is from Bilwi ( Nicaragua).

My great-great-great-grandfather Samuel Nicolson Steward was one of the first persons who came from Jamaica to Greytown, Río San Juan, Nicaragua to work as a magistrate.

My great-grandfather was an English teacher. Historian Hugo Sujo Wilson said (2015): “Samuel Green was a dark Creole man like the majority of us. He was a very educated and well-prepared old man. Even though he was blind, he gave me class for around three years. He was {…}  educated in the English system; he used to keep order and discipline. He imparted classes at his house”.

Karata is an indigenous community some 40 minutes away from Bilwi, North Caribbean of Nicaragua by  outboard motor. It is located in front of a lagoon by the same name. My great-grandparents Merehildo Thompson and Rosina Nelson were from this community.

Merehildo was one of the founders of the community, a pastor of the Moravian Church and wihta (judge) of the community. Rosina supported him with his duties, but also she was a midwife.

Mandy and Jocelyn

They had 8 children, one of them was my grandmother Mandy Lee Thompson, who in 1946 got married to Jocelyn Green, with whom she procreated 5 children.

This is my family tree. So if anyone asks me again about my roots, I can proudly say that I am African, American, and European descendant.

*America is a continent.

Author: Women Wheel

Women Wheel a community online that develops different women topics. Here we cover my experiences and others based on sexuality, gender, violence, culture, climate change, literature, womanhood, feminism, and decolonization stories that will link us together regardless of where you live, age, and race. Our wheel is durable and resistant, the same as the women’s fight, voices, and actions. Join the movement of the wheel!

2 thoughts

  1. This is the firstbtime I have seen and read about this piwerful women movement if Ibmay call it so. It was sent to me because I am a close relative to the author of My Family Tree (March 1st. 2020). It brought tears of emotion to my eyes. Now I know by what I am seen that I need to be a part of this powerful team. Women Wheel. Thanks for sharing.
    At my job (URACCAN UNIVERSITY) University if the Autonomous Region of the Carebbean Coast of Nicaragua. Besides be a teacher I belong to an Afro Commission and also a commision againts gender violence and discrimination. So all these topics are of my personal and institutional interest.
    Again many thanks for allowing me to learn and share in Women Wheel.

    Like

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