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A Way With Words

For Duncan, 51, the DNA connection is only the latest chapter in a decades-long story.

The tale took root when she was a little girl in New York, listening to the linguistic twists of her Jamaican-born parents: If she started making a mess, she was told not to ?chaka-chaka? the room. If she ate too fast, her mother reminded her not to ?nyam? her food. Her mother?s nickname was ?Dockyi,? her father?s was ?Pari.?

The airing of ?Roots? in 1977 served only to whet an already-strong appetite for the family quest. ?I remember how intertwined the family stories were in ?Roots,? but I think that?s something that African-Americans take for granted,? she said.

She learned that her ancestors were Maroons ? slaves who were brought from Africa to Jamaica more than 300 years ago, but escaped from their British conquerors and fought to keep their freedom.

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A Way With Words

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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