Forest Whitaker, the Nkwere Chieftain

A few days ago Forest Whitaker was in Nigeria for the African Movie Academy Awards and was honored with a chieftaincy title.  The people of Nkwere crowned Whitaker after a recent DNA test confirmed that Whitaker was not only linked to the Igbo, but that he's specifically connected with the Nkwere people. 

I'll be the first to tell you I'm obsessed with my genealogy.  I've traced my family back to a free woman of color in 1728 Stafford County, Virginia to DNA results that link me to the Tinkele people of Nigeria.  I simply love this stuff.  However, I'm not sure what I ultimately want from Africa anymore.

I used to romanticize about discovering my west African ancestors.  You know, traveling to some village near the River Niger and finally being at home. I imagined breaking bread with “my people” and seeing myself in their faces or music.  However, that's changed. After nearly 17 years of family research, I've become far more invested in the history and legacy of my people right here in the States. I certainly wouldn't turn up my nose at an opportunity to travel to Cameroon [DNA results link my father's mtDNA there], or to visit Goree Island, but Africa no longer holds the same romanticized weight. A chieftainship is amazing, but it's no longer the pot of gold at the end of my genealogical rainbow.

What do you want from Africa?

Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.