- In April, 66-year-old Jay Speights took an AncestryDNA test to learn about his heritage, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
- After putting his results through a secondary database design for African Americans, he learned that he was a decedent of the 9th King of Allada in Benin.
- Last month, Speights visited Benin, where he was welcomed at the airport with dancing and music.
- The current King of Allada officially recognised him as a member of the clan, and Speights said he plans to return every year.
A DNA test helped one man not only learn about his roots – but discover he’s royalty.
Rockville, Maryland interfaith pastor Jay Speights, 66, recently told his story to the Washington Post.
Speights told the Post that in April, he took an AncestryDNA test to learn about his heritage. Like many African Americans, Speights didn’t know much about where specifically in Africa his ancestors came from before they were enslaved.
After getting his initial results back from the company, he learned that he had a distant cousin from Benin. He then decided to input the data into a secondary database just for African Americans and within minutes it alerted him that he had “royal DNA,” the Post reported.
It reportedly wasn’t until a few months later, when a contingent from Benin visited a New York seminary where Speights serves as an executive director, that he connected to his long-last family. A member of the contingent recognised the name of Speights’ distant relative and gave him the king’s phone number, according to the Post.
The first time Speights called King Kpodegbe Toyi Djigla, the royal reportedly hung up. But after calling back, the king had Speights talk to his wife, who speaks English, and the two started corresponding over email.
Speights learned that he was a decedent of King Deka, 9th King of Allada, who ruled from 1746 to 1765, the Post reported.
Allada is a state in central Benin, a country that was home to West Africa’s largest slave port. Benin’s history with slavery is fraught since the nobility worked with Western slave traders to sell other Africans into the trade.
Speights’ newfound family had no explanation for why his ancestors ended up slaves in America. They told him that the royal family never would have sold their own people into slavery.
A royal welcome
Speights told the Post he travelled to Benin for the first time last month, after receiving an invitation from his royal relatives.
He was met at the airport with dancing and music, and was later enthroned by the king who gave him crowns and white lace robes to signal his work as a holy man.
He was also given a new name, Videkon Deka, which means “the child who came back.”
“I thought I was going to go, hang out with the family, do some sightseeing,” he told the Post. “But this was something else.”
Speights plans to return to Benin every year, and will bring his brother, daughters, and wife next time.
- Read more:
- I revisited my AncestryDNA test 3 years later and found some surprising changes to my results
- I shipped my spit to AncestryDNA to see how much I could learn from my genes – and found out my family history is more complex than I thought
- DNA-testing company 23andMe has signed a $US300 million deal with a drug giant. Here’s how to delete your data if that freaks you out.
- After you spit into a tube for a DNA test like 23andMe, experts say you shouldn’t assume your data will stay private forever
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