Tracing Roots of the Soulful Entrepreneur interprets the DNA genealogy and origins of Errol Griffith. Errol makes two appearances in the book, Rogues in Paradise:
First, as the soulful entrepreneur who stars in Chapter 33 of the Post-colonial Black Experience. It is an inspiring account of his excelling in education and business. The book traces his trajectory of colonial education in Barbados and overseas postgraduate studies to becoming a General Manager of an international company at age thirty, and a VP of Finance and Corporate Affairs in a national tourism statutory corporation at age 32. Later, he started the “FreeMind institute Inc.” and “The Power Of Choice” movement adopted in Bajan schools.
His second appearance is a story of his faith that drove him to create “The Barbados Blessing Prize,” which has been used by Canadian sporting and educational organizations for fundraising while bringing awareness about the island and its culture. School children, parents, and others in Toronto have learned about Barbados and visited the island. This project has transitioned into a long-term relationship with Canadian sports and educational organizations and continues to include the arranging of multicultural and sports trips to Barbados.
Errol graciously opted into the DNA Ancestry test to determine his origins and understand how it may have shaped his life experience and character.
Here is that study:
Genealogy DNA Pointers
The Ancestry DNA test used to gain knowledge about the origins of people of African descent in Barbados is helpful but not conclusive. It gives a good indication of their heritage. However, it is essential to understand that these tests only estimate ancestry based on genetic markers. They cannot provide a definitive answer about a person’s origin or connection to a particular tribe or region in Africa.
With that said, ancestry DNA for Errol Griffith gives specific pointers that help understand his and other Barbadians’ African heritage. Errol’s genealogy is 88% African and 12 % European. His African DNA points to the Ivory Coast, Ghana (36%), and Nigeria (18%).
AKAN Heritage of the Soulful Entrepreneur
Focusing on the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the predominant tribe is the Akan people. They are a large and influential cultural group in West Africa. Akan is the major cultural group of the Ivory Coast, with a population of approximately 8 million (i). It is estimated that there are around 10 million Akan people in Ghana, representing about 45% of the country’s population (ii). The Akan have rich cultural traditions, including their art, music, and dance, as well as their system of governance based on a matriarchal structure.
Akan philosophy revolves around the concept of what a person is. It explains identity, freedom, and morality from the community’s perspective. It is profound, indeed as deep as western thought, and far more imaginative. Most importantly, Akan philosophy is an indigenous African tradition. That contrasts sharply with Western philosophy, which is derived from the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.
Western and Akan philosophies share the pursuit of knowledge and critical thinking. The west emphasizes reason and argument over intuition and esoteric thought, whereas Akans incorporate spiritual belief, instinct, and ancestral guidance. Both believe in a supreme being, but Akan also think some lesser deities and spirits guide them. (*1)
At the heart of Akan culture was the belief in the power of the collective. They believed that the community was stronger than any individual. While respecting the individual and the person, they understand that by working together, they could accomplish great things. This philosophy was reflected in their governance, as they had a strong system of leaders chosen by the community rather than inheriting their roles through the bloodline.
The Akan also had a deep reverence for the natural world. They believed that all living things were connected and that they were all part of the same great cycle of life and death. They honored this connection by living in harmony with the land and by practicing sustainable farming and fishing.
The Akan people place a strong emphasis on community and social responsibility. The Akan believe it is vital to maintain strong relationships with others in the community and to work together for the common good. This is reflected in their system of governance, which is based on a decentralized and communal structure. Oral tradition is also an essential aspect of Akan culture. They take care to preserve the history and cultural values of the community with stories, legends, and myths passed down from generation to generation. These traditions help shape the Akan people’s cultural identity and connect them to their history and heritage.
While the Akan people have a solid traditional system of governance, this system coexists with the modern, democratic government. They operate alongside the national governments and are not the primary means of administration. To a large extent, the government is decentralized and cooperative. (*2)
Barbados Akan Legacy
AKAN is a humanistic society with respect for others in all things. Its philosophy centers on the person and the various aspects of body and spirit. It is highly spiritual while believing in an omnipotent influence. Their thinking expands the linear thought of the west and embraces ancestry as a power source of guidance.
Like Barbados, it is a democracy espousing personal freedom where women take a leading role.
Barbados is fortunate to have the descendants of the Akan in the BAJAN mix. Errol Griffith demonstrates many of the virtues of the Akan character and outlook.
European Heritage – 12%
Ancestor DNA testing did not indicate a specific family. Still, the Griffith name can be traced by building a family tree back to great, great grandparents.
While this still needs to be completed, it is interesting to note that the Griffith families owned 1.3% of the plantations in Barbados. They were small-scale planters that owned plantations and land in the North of the island. Generally, this was some of the poorest lands. Life may have been challenging, but some Griffiths did well. Howard Griffith owned a 393-acre Husband’s Plantation. The British taxpayer paid £2,347 16S 0D as compensation for his loss of slaves when slavery was abolished (iii).
As is the case for Brian Talma, the Colonials procreated with their slaves. Brian’s ancestors created an entire bronze class (Chapter Thirty-Six). Some planters, like Lawrence Cumberbatch (Chapter Two), granted freedom to their mistresses and cohabited with them and their children as married. Many planters did not free their mistresses, and their children worked as slaves of their fathers. For more see the implied Roots Keith Cumberbatch the Mathon Man
While it is interesting to learn about the histories and practices of individual slave owners, it is vital to recognize the immense harm caused by the institution of slavery as a whole. The relationships between slave owners and enslaved people were often abusive and based on coercion, not genuine consent or caring.
Despite this, most people in the book recognize the importance of British education even though others say it was brainwashing and deprived Bajans of African studies. While this is valid, many outstanding Bajan characters have excelled in post-colonial Barbados. Colonialism also left a representative, democratic parliamentary government that exists to the day.
The Bajan Mix
The Bajan character is a mixture of this unique heritage and history.
Learn more about the people of Barbados, their history, heritage, lifestyles, and culture with the book Rogues in Paradise.
– Grab the Free Sample chapters at:
Africa has a long history of migration, trade, and cultural exchange, which has created a complex and diverse genetic landscape. Many African kingdoms and empires captured and traded prisoners of war. These individuals were often used as indentured labour and slaves. Various factors, including conflicts between groups, the desire for wealth and power, and the need for labour influence the African genealogy.
Consequently, it is common for people of African descent to have ancestry from multiple regions of Africa. Ancestry DNA tests may not be able to trace their specific connections accurately, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the particular origins of an individual based on their DNA alone.
i. Akan in Ivory Coast: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Ivory_Coast
ii. Arkan in Ghana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghanaians
iii. Example Compensation – Husband’s Estate. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/estate/view/5983
* Details – Akan Personhood, Philosophy & Governance
*1 Personhood and Philosophy
– The Akan concept of a person takes account of several body and spirit entities that determine character (sunsam), inherent traits (notoro passed on by the father), and clan identity (mogya, passed by the mother). At death, the okra departs and saman manifest from clan identity of the mother.
The Akan person is both body and spirit. The body is seen as the physical vessel that houses the spirit, which is believed to be the source of a person’s identity, character, and inherent traits. The Akan believe that these traits are passed down from one’s ancestors and can be influenced by various external factors such as the environment and one’s experiences. The sunsam, which refers to the character or personality of a person, is seen as being shaped by a combination of one’s inherited traits and one’s experiences in life.
Another important aspect of Akan philosophy is the concept of notoro, which refers to the inherent traits or qualities passed down from one’s father. These traits are believed to be an important part of a person’s identity and can shape their character and behavior. The concept of mogya refers to the clan identity of a person, which is passed down through the mother’s side of the family. The clan is an important part of a person’s identity and plays a significant role in the Akan community.
– Akan people have a matriarchal system of governance in which the mother queen (ohemmaa) plays a central role. The ohemmaa is usually a senior woman of the clan who has a deep knowledge of genealogy and is responsible for helping to elect the omanhene (king) and other officials. In this system, the ohemmaa is seen as a key figure in the community and plays a significant role in decision-making and governance. Each kingdom is ruled by a single king (omanhene) who is elected by various officials, including the ohemmaa. The omanhene is responsible for leading and governing the kingdom, and he is assisted by various officials who help to administer the kingdom and carry out the policies of the omanhene.
King and Kingdom
In Akan culture, the king is a sacred and highly respected figure. He is given special treatment and is not expected to be observed eating or drinking in public, nor is he expected to speak or be spoken to directly. Instead, he communicates through a spokesman or “linguist” (okyeame). The king is also given special ceremonial attire and symbols of his office, such as a royal umbrella to protect him from the sky, royal sandals to avoid contact with the earth, and insignia made of gold and elaborate cloth of royal design.
The king has his own palace and is assisted by members of his court, who are divided into several categories: those from the royal clan itself, those representing the remainder of the people, and ritual officials, drummers, and others who are considered the “children” of the king and are recruited from various sources, including royal slaves. These officials may observe patrilineal descent, with the royal line traced through the father’s side of the family.
Read more: https://www.everyculture.com/Africa-Middle-East/Akan-Political-Organization.html#ixzz7pXUX0yvf
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- Brian Talma DeAction Man Genealogy
- Tracking African Roots of Barbados People – Marathon Man
- Discovering Bajan Roots with DNA