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Igbo Identity: African Americans With Igbo Ancestry

Being Igbo wasn't always in vogue. As a result of the Biafran civil war of 1967, over 3 million people died from starvation, fighting and disease. The future looked bleak. Some Igbos tried to hide or disguise their Igbo identity. Now more than ever, lots of people are proud to identify as Igbo.

The transatlantic slave trade of the 18th Century displaced lots of Igbo people who found themselves in North America. Virginia was the area that had the largest amount of Igbo slaves, transported there by the British ships. Descendants of some of these people were fortunate to reconnect with their homeland. Here are some prominent African American celebrities that have traced their roots back to Igboland.

 

     

 

1)Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker is an African American academy award winning actor and producer who took a DNA test that traced his ancestry back to Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria. He is well known for his role as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the last King of Scotland. As a result, in April 2009, he was given the chieftancy title of Nwanne di na Mba 1 of Nkwerre (Brother in a foreign land).


2)Danny Glover
Danny Glover is an American actor who was made a Chief with the title of Enyioma of Nkwerre (Good friend of Nkwerre people) alongside his colleague  Forest Whitaker. 

3)Bishop TD Jakes
An African American pastor that traced his roots back to Igbo land. He described his personality as being similar to Igbo's because he is hardworking, industrious and inovative. “To understand that my ancestors were something before they were a slave is extremely gratifying. It really confirms why I have such fascination about the continent of Africa.”

4)Lecrae
Lecrae is an American Grammy award winning Faith based rapper and song writer who was born in Houston Texas. He traveled to Nigeria for the first time in 2022 after a DNA test confirmed his Nigerian heritage. He came back bearing the names Adewale Obinna to reflect his Yoruba-Igbo roots. "I have experienced love like none other " he said of his trip.

Other African Americans with well known traceable Igbo ancestry (First generation ) include Jidenna, Yvonne Orji , Kelechi Osemele and Emmanuel Chinedum Acho.

 

Tell us about anyone you know that had to trace their Igbo ancestry...

 

Igbotees brand is a black owned  clothing  brand in the Uk and makes Igbo culture influenced T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and polos. It promotes visibility of Igbo language and culture. We started with trying to improve our fluency in Igbo language which lead to the creation of the Igbolearners language learning platform. The discovery that we couldn't find Igbo T-shirts to use for a giveaway lead us to create our own hence Igbotees was created.

1 comment

  • Me of course🇳🇬🫶🏾 Igbo Kwenu

    Tracing my roots changed my life

    Nwachioma Adaku

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