(Marcus Garvey’s son declares) ‘My DNA says I’m Mandingo-Fulani’


Genetic ancestry testing is quite popular among people of African descent in Diaspora, seeking to trace their ancestral origin. 

“I am overwhelmed by the welcome and hospitality that I received in The Gambia,” Dr Garvey said. “I have been to many, many African countries around the globe but this is indeed the warmest welcome I have ever received. I will also tell you a secret that my DNA says that I am Mandingo-Fulani. May be my cousins are here.”

A citizen of the US, the son of 20th century civil rights leader, who became famous for Black Star Line, which promoted the return of African diaspora, made this revelation on Tuesday at Kairaba Beach Hotel. This was during a symposium at the ongoing International Roots Homecoming Festival held under the theme ‘African culture in the 21st century – prospects and challenges’.


Himself a pan-African activist, Dr Garvey said: “It is important to understand the context of our times and how we got here because if you wish to know the present you must look at the past and analyse it. [Former UN secretary general] Kofi Annan said ‘to live is to choose but to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there’. I might add to that: How you plan to get there. My answer to Kofi Annan is that I am an African man and I choose to stand for the United States of Africa and a universal pan-African nation and I work for the redemption of Africa and the reconstruction of African civilisation. That is why I owe it to myself, my ancestors, children and generations yet unborn. African humanism is the paradigm that the world needs. We are one billion people in possession of the richest continent on earth. There is no reason we can’t make the 21st century the century of African renaissance and accomplishment. Let us lead the way for a better future for all humanity. Up you mighty people, you can accomplish what you will!”

Contributing during the question-and-comment session, another Roots delegate, Dr Runoko Rashidi, a historian, essayist, author and public lecturer, said: “Today I am trying to cover about 305 million years of history in about 35 minutes. I want to make this a global perspective because we are talking about Africa and Africans in Africa surviving in the 21st century. We are a global people. Our history begins in Africa but we should never, ever start our history with slavery. We should not be defined by slavery. I am not a descendant of slaves; I am a descendant of the first people to populate the planet earth, the first people to give civilisation and humanity to the world. African history is not slavery, slavery interrupted African history.

“What I say is this: What you do for yourself depends on what you think of yourself, and what you think of yourself depends on what you know of yourself, and what you know of yourself depends on what you have been told. So if you are told that your history starts with slavery, if you are told that your history starts with colonisation, if you are told that you waited in a dark room for a white man to come into the room and put you under light and bring you civilisaton, you are lost. Marcus Garvey used to say ‘if you have no confidence, you are defeated before you even start.”


By Alagie Manneh