WBTV Anchors Brigida Mack and Delano Little trace African Ancest - | WBTV Charlotte

WBTV Anchors Brigida Mack and Delano Little trace African Ancestry

(WBTV) (WBTV)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

History teaches that the ancestors of African Americans were violently taken from their homes and families in Africa. Millions ended up in America and were sold as slaves between the 16th and 19th Centuries.

It's known as the Transatlantic slave trade.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, and many African Americans still don't know from which countries their ancestors originated. But companies like African Ancestry are giving people the chance to learn their maternal and paternal roots.

Dr. Gina Paige, one of the founders of the company, says "knowing where you're from is a critical component of knowing who you are." She and Dr. Rick Kittles founded African Ancestry in 2003 to help transform the way people view themselves and the continent of Africa.

WBTV News on Bounce at 8 p.m. anchors Brigida Mack and Delano Little started the process of tracing their African lineage back in December. The two swabbed DNA from their cheeks and sent the samples off for testing. 

Scientists used a worldwide database to determine their ancestral mix and the results were shared for the first time on the show.

Brigida’s mother, Stella Mack, was also in the studio for the big reveal. Viewers see her every Tuesday for her segment, "Ask Mama Mack." Their family is based out of South Carolina and, more specifically, the small towns in the upstate Abbeville and the Easley and Pickens areas.

Dr. Gina Paige said Brigida shares maternal genetic ancestry with the Tikar people living in Cameroon today. It’s one of the larger countries on the west coast. The country’s official languages are both English and French. 

Dr. Paige said Cameroon is known as "African miniature" because “anything that you can find culturally, geographically on the continent , you can find in this country.” She also said the Tikar people are the artists of the Cameroonian culture.

There are several celebrities who share the same country of origin as Brigida’s maternal line. They include actress Taraji P. Henson, actor and director Nate Parker, record producer Quincy Jones and singer Erykah Badu.

Delano shares maternal genetic ancestry with two groups: the Fula people living in Guinea-Bissau and the Mende people living in Sierra Leone today. 

Dr. Paige said Guinea-Bissau is one of the smallest countries on the coast of West African. The people are known as nomads because "they traveled all over north and west Africa." 

She said because of the border divides in the continent, Delano’s roots were also traced 300 miles away from Guinea-Bissau. The country is home to the Mende people who Dr. Paige says “turned the ships around.” Sierra Leone is an English speaking country.

The family of Delano’s mother, who he endearingly refers to as “Mama Little,” is based out of Perry, Georgia. He said his father was in the military so his family "moved around a lot.” Dr. Paige discovered a connection from his African Ancestry to his American roots.  She said enslaved Africans were brought specifically from Sierra Leone to South Carolina and Georgia – particularly the Sea Island - because they were rice farmers.

Celebrities who share similar DNA with Delano’s Sierra Leone ancestry are civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, actor Isaiah Washington and Rapper Q-Tip. The African DNA for journalist and TV show host Roland Martin was also traced back to both Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.

The anchors said the experience was “eye-opening,” and they’re looking forward to learning more about their countries.

If you want to learn about roots, you can find more information on African Ancestry Revealed here.

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