In November 2020, Port Of Harlem will celebrate 25 years of publication. As we count down to our birthday, we will republish some of our most popular articles from our print issues. Thanks for subscribing and inviting others to join you in supporting our inclusive, diverse, pan-African publication - - now completely online. We originally published this article in the Aug-Oct 2004 print issue.
Some time had passed between the time I first heard about DNA fingerprinting for tracing ancestral roots and when I completed a story on the issue for my employer, WJLA-TV (ABC) in Washington, D.C. In that report, Howard University’s human genome lab traced my male ancestry back to the Yoruba section of Nigeria. This is the first of two parts that recount my recent trip to the land of my ancestors. WJLA also aired a report on this trip.
Pege, my camerawoman, and I were extremely nervous as we approached customs at Lagos’ Mutala Muhammed Airport. We’d read a book by a British journalist who reported how customs officials had accused him of bringing an old laptop into the country to sell. They threatened to confiscate it unless he paid a $300 import tax. He negotiated them down to $100. We were carrying very expensive television equipment. However, to our pleasant surprise, all the customs people said to us, was, “Welcome to Nigeria.”