THE GENETIC RESULTS ARE IN!
And wowee! Full of totally unexpected surprises!
I was always fairly certain of my Dad’s background – very English, with a smidge of Irish and a touch of Welsh perhaps?
My mothers background however, was largely unknown.
She was raised and grew up in South Africa, shamed by the sense of black blood. I recall whispered conversations from my childhood where my Grandfather (my Mothers Father) spoke of being of Dutch and Irish heritage and whilst he was a fair man, he had the features of an African man.
My Mothers biological Mother came out to visit when I was 19 years old. Of course I cornered her at the time and wanted a full breakdown of her heritage so I could understand who my Mother was and in turn, who I was.
But then, she didn’t really know either. She spoke vaguely about a claim to France and acknowledged that yes, there was plenty of black blood in her side of the family too, but she didn’t know where from.
So whilst I always knew I was definitely a genetic mix, I probably affiliated more with my Father’s side of the genetic tree. I always felt more European than anything else. And alas on my travels abroad – France was ‘home’. I can still remember stepping onto the cobblestoned pathways of Bruges, Belgium and seeing an old man playing an accordion under a street lamp in the gentle rain and feeling my heart swell in my chest to the point of exploding. Bruges felt more like home, than I had ever known.
Being stationed for a time in London, I recall calling it the loneliest city in the world. So full of people, brimming with a mix of culture and life, so ridiculously cold it hurt me through to my soul….but I never really felt a massive affiliation with London itself. The English countryside? Yes. Ireland? Surprisingly my time there was beautiful! I was shocked by how much I loved it and what a stunning country it was! I couldn’t understand a word anyone said mind you, but I was always shocked by how homely it felt. Ha!
What I’ve realised on this genetic journey, is that my entire life, I have always felt the pull of where I belonged, I just never knew it. From my travels abroad, to my little business sourcing and finding beautiful textiles and global wares, I have more often than not, been bought to my knees by the places of my heritage.
And for me, there is irony in that. But also so much beauty.
My Mother had once said to me, when I was frustrated by the lack of knowledge on our background “Jojo, you are a child of the world!” – and now I know, indeed I am!
Like the products I source and love so much, I am a richly woven tapestry with the hands of thousands having made me so lovingly.
When the results came in yesterday morning, I was actually incredulous.
The surprise was REAL!
And I shared the results with my Father and brothers – who would have been equally as surprised as I was!
Whilst my brother’s genetic mapping may be slightly different, mine is a good gauge of the fact that our beautiful Mother, was such an incredible mixture of a truly magnificent genetic heritage. Couple her offerings with my Fathers strong United Kingdom background and we have a perfect storm!
Where I was left a bit surprised by the fact that I do indeed have such a strong European background and the African parts actually statistically, make up so little of who I am.
I wish with all my heart, my Mother was alive to go through this with me. To see the genetic history she has passed on to her children. To know, finally and without a doubt, that while she bore the shame and all the labels of being ‘BLACK’ growing up in the time of apartheid in South Africa – it is but only one beautiful element of the magnificent human being she was! And actually a far smaller element than she could ever have imagined.
I suppose, because of the secrecy and unknowns surrounding my Mothers heritage, we always just assumed the ‘african’ part of her geneology was the biggest part? I was expecting and yes, absolutely anticipating the largest statistics to be those of African heritage being revealed in my own genetic mapping.
But I believe, if we are aware enough, we actually do live our entire lives, being drawn to the silent, whispered pull of who we are. That perhaps genetics themselves are a base, a touchstone – but they don’t make up the entire sum of our being? That we are all often a beautiful, chaotic mixture of history and genetics and cultures and geography – and that blend, that mix, that indefinable madness that comes from belonging to so many, to being a part of so many – is actually so intensely beautiful and so incredibly fulfilling to know?
My Mother never felt as if she belonged anywhere. I can only assume that was because she was raised and treated as if she were ‘less than’ or ‘unworthy’ because of the colour of her skin, in a country and surrounded by people, that were consumed by ignorance and racism.
And yet, It is within the parameters of my Mothers DNA that I have actually discovered an incredible sense of who I am and where I belong and what my place is here on earth.
In fact, without a doubt, this genetic journey has simply reinforced to me that I have always walked through the world feeling a true sense of belonging, to nowhere in particular – but EVERYWHERE at once. And to now know, that those feelings, that the intuitive energy of ME – understood my vast heritage even before I intellectually knew it – is quite incredible.
So let’s get to it. And unveil the surprising magic of WHO I am! Haha
JO’s Genetic Reveal :
EUROPE – 79%
Ireland – 30% (WHAAAAAT?????????)
Great Britain – 22%
Western Europe – 18%
(France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Scandinavian, Portugese – make up some strong percentages of my genetic makeup for Western Europe)
AFRICA – 21%
Africa South Central – 5%
Africa South East – 6%
Cameroon/Congo – 4%
Benin/Togo – 4%
Ivory Coast/Ghana – 1%
Mali – 1%
(Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Cameroon/Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Mali make up the percentages of my genetic makeup for Africa)
Swaziland and Botswana were the strongest DNA percentages for Africa, which makes sense, as that was my Mothers immediate background as she understood it, but I was surprised that it made up so little of my actual genetic blueprint.
I suppose though – Great Britain (my Father) sits at 22%
Africa – (My Mother) sits at 21%
Of MY genetic fabric.
So fairly equal for the larger parts of who they were and how they contributed to the make up of me.
The biggest surprise here is the massive 30% of IRISH genetics!!!! Whaaaaaat???? Haha
So that means both my Father and Mother carried Irish genetics and contributed them into the genetic pool of who I am. Unbelievable! I was totally not anticipating THAT!
Also the incredible mix of Italian, Greek, French, Scandinavian, Spanish, Portugese and Belgium that surely must come from my Mother – as my father has no mapping of this in his genetic history that he’s aware of AT ALL.
I was floored.
My Mother would have been quietly THRILLED to see these percentages come up for me and incredulous to know they more than likely came from her genetic contribution to who I am! Unbelievable!
The Irish genetic history, I can only assume, must have been quite strong in my Mother’s genetics. That certainly explains the gorgeous random red heads amongst the darker skinned relatives on her side of the family!
And my brothers and I are all olive skinned, brown eye’d babes – having taken that colouring from my Mother obviously, but as children, in the sunshine, we all had this magnificent auburn hair, which no one could really fully explain! Haha
Crazy town! And such a large percentage!!!
I used to joke about being Scandinavian, but that percentage actually rendered me completely frozen. I mean really???? I had NO IDEA.
The French I am not surprised by at all, I have always had such a strong affiliation with that beautiful country, the language and it’s people. Always.
Greek and Italian made me laugh.
They are the two things people have assumed I am, more often than not, my entire life. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I were Greek or Italian, I would be a BAZZILIONAIRE! Haha
And there it is, in my genetic history! Who knew??? Certainly not anyone in my immediate family! Haha
My Mother would have been as shocked as I am over these results, I’m sure of it. But my God we would have had a good laugh.
And then there are all the small percentages of the African contingency, incredible! It is no wonder that the huge Mali African mud cloth I found, bought me to my knees when I saw it. I was breathless and speechless and my heart hurt and I crumbled to the ground, at the time.
Confused by my response.
But alas, there it is, in my genetic history.
Perhaps on a deeper level, I was in some way, finding a piece of ‘home’, viewing that mud cloth?
You know, I am a writer, a poet, a dreamer. I’ve always been a ‘glass half full’ kind of gal and certainly incredibly optimistic, even when life sucker punched me in the face. I am spiritual and aware and aligned and intensely in tune with myself.
These results, whilst a revelation in so many ways – and surprising at first, when I sat with them, for long hours and thought about them – they are not so surprising. I have spent my entire life, coming home to myself.
On my travels and now in my business, I seek out the unusual, the left of centre, the unexpected. I am in love with the beautiful, the point of difference, the mixture and layers of all of life’s incredible offerings. It is no surprise then, that I am a layered, mixture of such beautiful elements. It is no great irony that I have become, what I actually AM.
My journey, this walk, this life – has always been one foot in front of the other, coming home to MYSELF.
And how beautiful it is to now know it.
To know that I am the result of the love of thousands. I am a blend and mixture and infinite, unapologetic layers of such incredible cultures and tribes and creeds. Geographically, I am indeed a child of the world.
And I have always felt that.
But I have no sense of belonging to one particular thing or place or people. And that is no surprise. I feel the pull of all of my ancestors within me. It’s like a magnificent soul dance, where each tribe and people and the whispered ghosts of my past are all stepping together….chins up, chests out, full of pride and presence and the indefinable, weighted sentimentality that has been born within me.
I can thank my parents for that.
I can thank my wonderful Father and my beautiful Mother, for all of that.
I have always had a strong sense of self. I’ve been frustrated by the unspoken, by the unsaid and by the secrets – but I have always, in spite of that – had a very strong sense of self.
Oh Mama – do you see what you contributed? Do you see the rich, incredible tapestry of history you have gifted to us?
And then I gaze at my own daughters. My beautiful eldest, who’s Father was Italian – shall carry so much more of that European heritage than she could ever have known.
And my two youngest babes, both so fair, so blue eye’d – an incredible mix of their Eastern European Daddy and my own heavy European genetics. This youngest babe of mine, looks just like my own Father. That incredible man, from Great Britain, who has instilled in me such strength and fortitude and an undefinable KNOWING of who I am, at least from his side of the genetic pool, my entire life.
My youngest baby, LOOKS just like him. Perhaps with a smattering of Scandinavian thrown in – because my goodness she is the fairest thing I’ve ever seen! Haha
And maybe some of that rich Irish geneology, because she has a tinge of auburn in her hair too! lol
So there we have it!
What a journey!
Now I just want to go back to all the places that feel like home to me, that I’ve already seen. And visit all the places I haven’t yet been. With this knowledge tucked into my heart.
My ancestry voyage! My genetic trek. Oh yes please!
If you have any questions or doubts about your own genetic history, I urge you to get this done! Some results may be a complete shock or surprise. Others will be a no brainer.
But what it did for me, was solidify the existing awareness of who I am and open my heart to the incredible genetic mapping that exists within me.
I may be very European (just like I’ve always said I was) but Africa is definitely responsible for my hair! Haha
And lastly, after receiving these results and now knowing the genetic tapestry of who I am?
I have never, in my entire life, felt more beautiful, inside and out, than I do, right now, in this very moment.
I don’t see the percentages of this test, I imagine instead, the black, white and brown faces, the tribes and the cultures of all of those people, my ancestors, that helped bring the tapestry of ME together.
What an incredible thought, for every generation that came before me and for all that will come after me.
Thank you to my ancestors.
Thank you for my olive skin and my Italian nose and my truly African hair. Thank you for the Irish auburn highlights and quick temper! Thank you for my Greek stubborn pride and my French passion and my ability to be open hearted and love with such conviction and intention. I FEEL everything so intensely. It is both a gift and a curse.
I assume that comes from ALL of you.
I think Linda Hogan said it best when she wrote “You are the result of the love of thousands”
And indeed, we all definitely are!