Sunday, February 19, 2017

My “Kunta Kinte”: Part 2 of “The Search for Our African Ancestor’s Birthplace”

 
Map of Nigeria (Source: Africa World News)

On February 1, I posted The Search for Our African Ancestor’s Birthplace.” That blog post contains a video of Samuel Siaw of Cape Coast, Ghana giving us some great insight concerning my mother’s great great grandfather Luke Edwards’ African name – OGBAR OGUMBA. He immediately linked the name to the Igbo people of Nigeria, instead of Ghana. Please check out that post to understand the context of this discovery.

Naja Chinyere Njoku, the founder and moderator of the DNA Tested African Descendants Facebook groups, read my blog post and immediately contacted a Nigerian chief (Igbo) for more information about my ancestor’s African name. Chief Okorie Mba (Eze Amufi) of Asaga Ohafia, Nigeria (Abia State) was very familiar with the name! He relayed the following information:

There are two meanings of the name, (1) As a place, it means town or village, (2) the name Mba means the braggart, big mouth, admonisher, showoff, backer or bouncer of the family.... or a fighter. Ogu Mba means righteousness of a town. Ogba as a name is rampant in my village. It is a short cut to the name Ogbanta, which used to be an honorary name given to a great hunter.

For example:
Ogba Anu means animal shooter.
Ogba Agu means lion shooter.
Ogbu Agu means lion killer.
Ogba (r) means shooter.
Ogbu (h) means killer.

The correct name should be Ogba as in Mba. The (r) and (h) were added by colonial masters for easier pronunciation. Please note that the O will have a dot under.

While recording the oral history from family elders in the 1970s in Panola County (Como), Mississippi, the late Cousin Rev. Sidney Edwards also wrote the following about Grandpa Luke (Ogbar Ogumba), “He had a high pitched voice and never let up during a conversation." Compare this piece of oral history to the meaning of the name from Chief Okorie Mba that is highlighted in red above. Yes, I am astounded. This appears to be more than coincidental to me!

To date, this is by far the most compelling piece of linguistic evidence we have gotten. To add, nearly all of the males with the surname OGUMBA on Facebook are from Nigeria. We are getting closer!

Combined snapshots from the 1855 slave inventory of William Edwards’ estate, Panola County, Mississippi, taken on December 15, 1855. At the end of the inventory, placed at the top of this image, Luke Sr. (Ogbar Ogumba) was inventoried with a value of $150. At the top of the inventory, there’s another Luke, who was Luke Edwards, Jr., born around 1815. Luke Edwards, Jr. died after 1900 in Panola County, Mississippi. Prince Edwards (born c. 1830) was my mother’s great grandfather.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Search For Our African Ancestor’s Birthplace

I am posting this blog post and the short video clip below on the first day of Black History Month 2017, to emphasize that our Black history did not begin with American chattel slavery.

About six years ago, my cousin Dr. Jeffrey Ogbar and I discussed our family connection via my maternal grandmother. During the phone conversation, he told me how his Edwards family knew the name of their "Kunta Kinte." In the 1970s, down in Panola County (Como), Mississippi, his great-uncle, the late Rev. Sidney Edwards, interviewed family elders. They shared with him how the first Edwards was a man named Luke Edwards, who was from Africa. Not only that, family elders had knowledge of his true African name that he told his family - OGBA(R) OGUMBA. I was fascinated to hear this! I was also "green with envy" because this was the type of family history that I longed to have. I remember saying to Cousin Jeff, "Wow! You all are so blessed to have this kind of family history. This is rare!"


The oral history that the late Rev. Sidney Edwards typed in the 1970s.
(Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Ogbar)

Fast forward four years later, in June 2015, I finally learned through autosomal DNA (with oral history clues left by family elders) that the father of my mother's paternal grandmother, Sarah Partee Reed (1852-1923) of Tate County, Mississippi, was a man named Prince Edwards (born c. 1830). Read about that discovery HERE. Lo and behold, there's a preponderance of evidence that Grandpa Prince and his brother, Uncle Peter Edwards, were also sons of Ogbar Ogumba! So when Cousin Jeff was relaying his Edwards history to me, it was my history, too . . . . but I didn't know it at the time. I have been able to determine from genealogy research that he was born around 1790.

Based on prior Y-DNA testing, the family has speculated that Ogbar Ogumba may have been from the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). The Bight of Biafra region (present-day Nigeria, specifically) was also speculated. So while my cousins and I were in Ghana in December, I asked several people about the name. To my surprise, they all proclaimed that "Ogumba" was not a familiar name to Ghana. They claimed its origins to be from the Igbo people of Nigeria. Here's one of the persons I interviewed, as we were standing at Elmina Slave Castle. We are still seeking absolute DNA proof of Ogbar Ogumba's origins. The chances of finding a "paper trail" are extremely slim . . . a miracle! Nonetheless, the Igbo people of Nigeria strongly appear to be his ancestral origins. 



(Excuse my clumsy finger at 1:30.)


Any additional comments regarding Samuel's shirt will be deleted. He is a very nice guy, who worked tirelessly to show us a great time in Ghana. He was very in tune to our history, after listening to us. He did not know that the shirt was offensive. So please do not place any blame or negativity towards him. This illuminates the fact that there needs to be more discussions between Africans and African Americans, to grasp a better understanding of our respective histories on both sides of the Atlantic.