The Family Pedigree and Heritage!

To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root

–         Chinese Proverb

Many persons have lost touch with their backgrounds, they do not have an understanding of who they are and where they are from. Ironically, today’s parents do not even know as well. This has heightened assumptions and distorted history across families and society at large. However, there are hundreds of reasons that account for this but it is not out of place to retrace our steps.

From our new beliefs, I will want to expound what is evident in the scriptures to let us know why it is important not to joke with one’s lineage. We have a popular way of praying, ‘The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. Does that not sound like an understanding of one’s ancestor? Equally, all across the Old Testament, we have series of chapters where the family lineages were enumerated. We would notice a trend in the scriptures, Noah, was being mentioned alongside other generations until his remarkable story was told and that was the same that happened to Jabez. 

Similarly, if we look into the genealogy of the Kings in the scriptures, about 18 generations were mentioned till the captivity. 1 Chronicles 1 comes straight out of Genesis, usually quoted directly from the early genealogies. Following this are genealogies of the twelve tribes as far as they are preserved, in this order: Judah, Simeon, Reuben, Gad, Levi, Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Ephraim, Asher and Benjamin.

In the New Testament, the book of Matthew starts that the genealogy of Jesus was traced as far as Abraham and David. Bible scholars have analyzed all these as not being genetic lineage but he was attempting to establish Jesus as a royal successor and rightful heir to the throne of David’s kingdom.

Asides from the Old Testament Biblical generations, a generation is about 25-30 years. As such, if there is no death at a relatively young age, a parent can consciously help his children to understand his/her genealogy. Having this in mind, one is ready to create a heritage that would be forever cherished.

In Yoruba culture, the life of the palace griot depicts the value in a name and the heritage. They churn out details of the Kings over the years and their valiant deeds. They are the custodians of the royal lineage.

Going further, a Yoruba cultural saying that speaks to having an understanding of the family line is, “a ki ri omo Oba, ka ma ri dansaki lara re” equally meaning, you cannot see a regal without seeing the regalia. This is even enough to guide and guard the path of youngsters because he knows what the family stands for in society. We can draw inference from the life of the British monarch and all the drama seen recently.

Narrowing it down further, another saying is, “ile laawo, kato somo loruko” meaning, you will look into the family before naming a child. Before now, children are born into families and these families are renowned for a particular religion, trade, or craft; skill or societal position some of these transferred into the names of these families such as Ogunyemi, Agbede, Ayangbemi, Balogun amongst others. A few years ago, I met a Turkish young man that I met at Eko Hotels and Suite, he came for a fashion exhibition in Nigeria. On his card, it states that the business has been in existence for 75 years and I asked him how. He explained that his grandfather started the business and he is the 3rd generation to continue with this line of business.

I would want us to think through this, what did Nehemiah discover that made him rise to the occasion of desiring to rebuild his homeland? It was because he had a little understanding of where he was from and this made him zealous to rebuild the place for the next generation. That shows that many valuable lands have been lost to speculators and other distant family members because the generation of the rightful owners have wandered away as they had not shown any interest in the family heritage. 

Another way in which crime can be greatly reduced is for people to know about their genealogy. If people know the richness of their heritage; how the name has been built over centuries, they would come to their senses. Howbeit, it might not be total but at least, it will leave to a sharp decline. Do you know that Eli’s children never valued their father’s name? That could have led to the abrupt end of their generation?

It is equally important to state that I am not an advocate of retaining the ancient crafts that have been outdated but I believe that it can be modernized and it can bring great fortune. This should have happened to our crafts and arts, textile amongst many others. It is one of the cheapest ways to prosperity. Recently, at the commemoration of the World Facility Management Day, the Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Lagos State Chapter, Arch. David Majekodunmi noted that there are local ways of waxing the floor, as such he urged participants to look into developing local content. One of the Professors at the event said she would explore it and it could become another stream of income.


We have got to a point in history when we need to go back to the basic; we need to know our names and the meanings; we need to know the exploits of our ancestry; we need to know what our families were renowned for and what are the unique traits in our families. Understanding our pedigree and heritage can be the turning point from some grievous errors.

I would want to add this to make us have a rethink. The global spotlight is currently on Africa and everyone is exploring everything about the continent. Those who are swift in discovering the unique things in the hinterland; the embedded and buried treasures in their families and the features that distinguish their genealogy have set themselves on the path of riches. 

It is time to arise to build those innate abilities and skills and also optimize your pedigree and heritage to the delight of the world. Never assume your family stood for nothing, ask questions and you will be amazed at what you will discover. 

Olutayo IRANTIOLA

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