Tuesday, July 16, 2019

In Honour of the Warrior Women in my DNA

March 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured Posts, Love

As a descendant of Africans who were enslaved and hauled across the Atlantic to Jamaica, at least half of my history has been lost to me, other than the story told by the melanin in my skin. Family stories of ancestors have spoken to our European lineage but even that only traces a few generations. The “missing” half of my DNA is a vacuum I have felt in the rustling of bamboo windchimes, in my first whiff of Africa when my plane refuelled in Senegal on its way to South Africa, in the kete drums to which I danced as a teenager, my thick, 3-dimensional hair and in my deep longing to know my ancestors and from whence they came.

Fortunately, technology has come to my rescue, with the ability to excavate our history through our genes. Last year, I gave my daughter Victoria a DNA test for her birthday. When she received the results, she texted, her excitement popping in every word:

“Mummy! Guess what? My DNA is 41% African, and 18% from the Dahomey/Benin region. I did some research and found out that the Dahomey had women warriors!”

We laughed together in celebration of the warrior-ancestry we share, the strength that we see in each other, and always wondered from whence it came. The vacuum had started to fill. That warrior urging in my soul has a history, or a her-story. And it’s not just in my soul, it’s in my the cells of my body. The strength of my grandmothers, aunts and my mother harked back to these warrior women of Dahomey, sharpened and honed by the dastardliest of journeys that one could ever take – the Middle Passage. Even in the “bottomless pit” of which Bob Marley sang in Redemption Song, the warrior women survived and lived to become my ancestors. I now see their DNA, their spirit, alive in Victoria. I don’t have proof that I am descended from these warrior women, but most of history has no proof. This is my-story.

Today, on this International Women’s Day, I celebrate the warrior women of the Dahomey, my ancestors. I celebrate the warrior women of my immediate past. I celebrate the warrior women that my daughter and nieces are becoming. And I celebrate the warrior woman that I am. And mostly, I hope that one day soon we won’t need a single day to honour women. Then, the warrior women will have won. And that victory will be a victory for all humanity.

“Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom? Cause all I ever have. Redemption Songs” – Bob Marley


Read about the Dahomey Women Warriors here

Image source: www.badassoftheweek.com


6 Responses to “In Honour of the Warrior Women in my DNA”
  1. Knowing our history is a key to helping us develop our future.
    #Resilience of self, family and community is built on this.

  2. Marguerite Orane says:

    Dear Michael

    You are so right. And knowing not just the global history, but our personal history – “my-story”. And being able to question what’s thrown at us as “history” e.g. “Columbus discovered ….” which has been fed to us ad nauseum. My dream history class is for each child to have their DNA done and then from that, they explore the different places in the world from whence they came. Wouldn’t that be great? In “No Woman No Cry” Bob Marley said: “In this great future, you can’t forget your past.” We each have to know our past.

    Abundant blessings


  3. Julie Meeks says:

    Wonderful to have a piece of your history filled in like this! Shades of Alex Haley’s discoveries. Yes indeed, you and your daughter have your story, still being written.

  4. Marguerite Orane says:

    Thanks Julie. I do feel like Alex Haley. I am awaiting the results of my DNA test now, so there will be much more discoveries to come!



  5. Denise says:

    Marguerite, I really enjoyed this piece. I had the Africa experience (Nigeria in 2013) and later South Africa (2016).

    The Nigeria experience although only 1 week long and restricted to Abuja because of the extreme Boko Haram agitation at the time, was so mind blowing. The men and women I met kept on remarking that my features were similar to Igbo women! I smiled and enjoyed my way through it all. My only regret was not being able to visit a village to experience that space and place…if ever I have the opportunity to go back to Nigeria, you know where I will be heading!

    The DNA test sounds like a plan.

    Keep well


  6. Marguerite Orane says:

    Thank you Denise. What amazing experiences in Nigeria. I can’t wait to get to West Africa – have been to SOuth Africa and Tanzania, but not the west coast. That will be an epic journey, as it was for you! And yes, do the DNA. I am awaiting the results of my test.

    Abundant blessings