Tony Brown has always been curious about his heritage. Earlier this spring his curiosity was satisfied with a DNA test from Ancestry.com.
The results, which Brown received last month, showed that his ancestry originates in Angola, and that other ancestors came from the Middle East.
“It made me extremely happy,” Brown said, “because now I can say where I’m from.”
As an Angola descendant, he now wants to learn more about his home background.
“I am hoping to learn where I began,” Brown said. “I want to study the history about Angola. These are my people.”
Angola, a country in southwestern Africa, was under Portuguese rule for nearly 400 years until it gained its independence in late 1975. During this period, Angola was considered as a “slave-producing country” for some of the Asian-Pacific countries, such as Brazil, Cuba, the countries in the Caribbean Islands and the United States.
For Brown, the connection to his slave roots is bittersweet. While he’s grateful for this new understanding of his heritage, his heart goes out to his African ancestors. He said that teaching his people how to speak English and live in a Western culture had made them to be “cut off” from their past.
In the end, Brown said the discovery has been incredibly meaningful.
“There is something about knowing your origin that is very healthy,” he said. “It brings a sense of clarity. You know where you started.”
He admitted that while there was no expectation as to where he specifically came from, “Curiosity has been there for a long time.”
Brown, a Pennsylvania native, decided to take a DNA earlier this spring after hearing about the Ancestry.com DNA test from one of his friends. Initially, he thought the price was rather high, but when the price went down, he took the test.
According to the Ancestry.com, collecting a DNA sample is easy and painless. Participants swab the inside of the mouth to collect cheek cells and return the swabs, along with some paperwork. The results are ready in a few weeks. In Brown’s case, it was only a 10-day wait.
Brown said he would encourage others to take the test, too, even if you may already know where you came from.