Jamaica-born Ike Anderson and Natalee met on a school bus when they were 15. Now, 26 years later, they have travelled to 22 countries in search of their ancestral lineage while homeschooling their three children. Travel + Leisure India & South Asia catches up with Natalee, who gets candid about their findings, moving to Ghana, and their initiative that helps young adults of African descent trace their roots. By Adila Matra
T+L India: What prompted you and Ike to explore your ancestral lineage?
Natalee Anderson: We had everything that the society asks one to achieve [for a happy life] but felt something was missing! We were guided to an adventure that was tied very closely to our ancestral past. We grew up in Jamaica with ancestors of diverse backgrounds and wondered who they were and where they came from. Why and how did they end up here, on this island in the Caribbean so far away? And how do we honour their journey, one [that was] riddled with severe hardships?
T+L India: What have been your findings regarding your lineage after travelling to 22 countries?
Natalee Anderson: I have come to see very clearly that humans have more in common than we have differences. We also discovered our full ancestral make-up. We took many DNA tests to isolate our ancestral make-up and the path they took over centuries. I am 66 per cent African mix, 22.5 per cent Central and South Asian/Indian, and 10.2 per cent European mix. Ike is 82 per cent African mix and 17 per cent European mix.
T+L India: You are a Jamaican family. How and why did you decide to settle down in Ghana? Was it easy for the kids to adjust to the culture of the place?
Natalee Anderson: We chose to make Ghana our home, as this was to be Mission Central for the next step of our journey—being of service to a community and a cause greater than ourselves. The kids are fairly flexible, and according to Layton, our youngest, home is wherever we are together. We have also seen to it that we create opportunities for them to meet and connect with children [of] their age. There is also a very active homeschool community here with weekly meetups and activities.
T+L India: What has been the most interesting country on your journey so far?
Natalee Anderson: We found it interesting that the pyramids of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, the Abu Simbel temples in Egypt, Newgrange in Ireland, and Stonehenge in England aligned with the solstices. We didn’t initially plan to go to some of these places, but we were guided and [we] showed up during the solstices, which enhanced our experience. Also, places such as Uluwatu in Bali and Uluru in Australia have the same frequency. There are ley lines that connect them together, like mother earth’s veins that spread energy and information from place to place. Where two or more lines pass each other, it is said to be a sacred, powerful, and healing place. Many describe some of these places as earth’s chakras. Also, our eldest daughter is a very adventurous eater. She will try anything at least once! It was good seeing her adventurous spirit awaken as she is a bit shy otherwise.
T+L India: You are a family of five. How do you settle differences in opinion while travelling?
Natalee Anderson: We are able to balance our views by keeping the lines of communication open and going with the philosophy of ‘majority rules’. Even if that majority isn’t the parents sometimes. The children are very active in decision-making, as this is a lesson for them as well.
T+L India: Which country/culture do you most relate to? Is it different for each of you?
Natalee Anderson: Yes, it is definitely different for each of us! The children enjoyed British, Mexican, and Australian cultures. I was somewhat shocked at how much I related to Indian culture. I felt like I had been there before. Everything felt familiar. Ike loved the bustling streets of Mumbai, but was also at home in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil!
T+L India: Tell us about the Exploring Legacy ™ African Birthright & Rite of Passage initiative. What made you start this?
Natalee Anderson: As we travelled, we realised that our experiences started to become more of a pilgrimage and connected us to parts of ourselves that were lost. We knew that we needed to create a pathway to help others achieve this. We owe it to our ancestors, and ourselves, to heal from ancestral traumas, like the enslavement of Africans. So, we created the Exploring Legacy Foundation, where we sponsor young adults (18-25 years old) of African descent to visit and participate in a 10-day awareness journey in Ghana, West Africa.
T+L India: Out of all the places you have visited, which one is your favourite?
Natalee Anderson: We enjoyed Mexico for its food, culture, and family-centric people. We loved Kerala in southern India for its magical environment, Egypt for adventures such as sailing down River Nile in Aswan and entering the main pyramids of Giza with a flashlight and guide.
T+L India: What are the destinations on your bucket list?
Natalee Anderson: Japan, for the culture and food; Nepal, to meditate; and the kids are very interested in visiting Thailand and Cambodia.