Black History Month: The US – Sierra Leone connection

It’s Black History month in the US when we learn about and celebrate African American culture and heritage.  One of the important things I’ve learned since returning to Sierra Leone in recent years is their close link with US history and culture.

Bringing in the rice harvest in Bumpeh Chiefdom

Bringing in last year’s rice harvest in Bumpeh Chiefdom

Most people don’t know that many (maybe a majority) of African captives leaving for the then American colonies in the 1700’s came from the Guinea Coast.  This is the area that now makes up the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. They were brought to a slave fort in the Freetown harbor on Bunce Island and shipped to American plantations. 

Sierra Leone is rice growing land. Sierra Leonean slaves were targeted to bring their skills in growing rice to South Carolina and Georgia plantations, among other areas.  Their descendants went on to make up much of the African American population.

African Ancestry, Inc.African Americans can now learn about their ancestry with DNA testing.  Columbia University professor and HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill learns of his African ancestry during his interview with African Ancestry, Inc. who performed his DNA testing.  See the video link below.

Part of Hill’s ancestry is with the Mende & Temne tribes in Sierra Leone. Watch the video to hear which other well-known African Americans can claim the same.  And what it means to finally know your ancestry. 

Click for video:   African Ancestry Helps You Trace Your Roots