The Benefit of Knowing Who You Came From

Liberation Kamali family,

Over the past 12 years, I have attempted to do many things that initially filled me with trepidation. I enrolled in a PhD program, established an Afrikan-centered school, fathered a beautiful daughter, started several businesses, and moved to Ghana, West Africa, among other things.

Whenever I found myself having any doubts, I would periodically remind myself that my ancestors were forced to endure greater hardships and they made it through. So, I would think, who am I not to face these challenges head on and with confidence. How did Malcolm act in the face of danger? What did Harriet do with a bounty on her head? How did my grandmother, Virgie, deal with doubters who did not see her vision? They all pushed through. Why not me?

Knowing that I’ve used what my ancestors have been through to push me to greater success, I smiled broadly when I read about an experiment and article published in 2010 called the Ancestor Effect. Led by Peter Fischer, the experiment demonstrated that thinking about our ancestors had a positive effect on participant performance on intelligence tests.

‘Normally, our ancestors managed to overcome a multitude of personal and society problems, such as severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones or severe economic declines,’ the researchers said. ‘So, when we think about them, we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities.’

Initially, the 80 undergraduates simply spent five minutes thinking about their ancestors and demonstrated more confidence and a greater feeling of control over their lives.

Now, imagine the benefit for our young warriors when we spend five minutes a day pouring libation to our ancestors and remembering their struggles and contributions.

Now, imagine the benefit for our young warriors when we spend an entire year or twelve years teaching them from an Afrikan perspective that intimately acquaints our young warriors with the stories and struggles, triumphs and trials our ancestors faced. Do you think they would walk about in this world intellectually taller and stronger because they know the strength and resolve that courses through their veins? I think they would.

We have already seen studies that show that an Afrikan centered education helps Afrikan children tremendously. This new study is but another example of the old adage, “a tree without roots cannot stand, but a tree with deep and well nourished roots can flourish beyond measure.”

Ok, I added that second part, but you get the point.

Now, imagine the disservice that is being done to our children now and was done to many of us who grew up without much knowledge about those who came before. It pains me to think about the mentacide that took place because our brains were bombarded with the exploits of someone else’s ancestors.

But, back to the present and future.

Teach our children who they are and where and who they come from so that they can gain strength and confidence from the Ancestor Effect.


Revolutionary Love,


Baba Dr. Brotha Samori Camara

from Accra, Ghana


Fischer, P., Sauer, A., Vogrincic, C., and Weisweiler, S. (2010). The ancestor effect: Thinking about our genetic origin enhances intellectual performance. European Journal of Social Psychology

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