Webster professor connected to African roots in Nigeria by ancestry test

This month, Dr. Cummings will travel to Nigeria, where many of her ancestors came from.

By Carol Daniel

A Webster University professor has long been an amateur genealogist but her discoveries took a huge leap forward with her recent ancestry.com test. Because family ties were severed by slavery in the United States, most African-Americans had little hope of finding relatives in Africa.

That was before Ancestry.com.

Dr. Simone Cummings is Dean of the Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University. She said the test revealed a relative on her father’s side who is from Africa and lives in Philadelphia.

Did she want to meet him?

“I absolutely wanted to go. I couldn’t wait to go. I took this trip to Philadelphia because we found out that he was related maybe four months before I made the trip. So when I went out to Philadelphia with my dad, we didn’t know what to expect. We stayed in a hotel. I meet this cousin, and he was just absolutely fabulous. We looked at pictures and talked about Nigeria.  He’s an engineer, married with three children and it turns out  that his father actually was a diplomat from Nigeria and had lived all over the world. They’ve lived in Geneva, they lived in Paris and actually his dad coincidentally got a degree from Webster University, Geneva while they lived there. You just never know. The world is so small and you don’t even think about it.”

Dr. Cummings’ next step is to travel to Africa this month and try to go to the village in Nigeria where many of her ancestors came from.

“I’m just incredibly excited. My entire family is excited about this. We have a family reunion this summer and everyone can’t wait until I get back. So they want information, they want pictures, they want just to to feel it.  For me it’s almost is like coming home, you know, to find out where exactly you’re from. Especially, you know, genealogists, you know, many of them, if you are European base, you can trace your relatives back to the 1700s. If you’re, if you’re a solid genealogist, African Americans don’t have that ability for the most part. So this is absolutely incredible. I’m super excited about it.”

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