Originally posted: by Melvin Collier “Roots Revealed” on 01 Feb. 2017 and republished by Nikka Smith: “The Lowdown by Black ProGen” 02 Feb. 2017.
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.
This appears to be my home also.