#culture · 1 year ago

How can I be able get in touch with my Jamaican roots?

Any ideas on how I might be able get in touch with my Jamaican roots? My Dad left Jamaica for the States in the 80s and is completely estranged from his family. I've never met any of them except for his sister. Not even his parents. Never been to Jamaica, so everything I know is secondhand from them (and from pop culture but you know). So barring his willingness to go to Jamaica with me and/or introduce me to anyone in his family, what are some things that to do or places to go in Jamaica on my own to make me feel more in touch with my heritage? Or anything I can read/listen to/watch? Any general advice would be much appreciated. Sarcastic responses accepted but some real ones would be nice too lol


Nothing to feel silly about. I’m always glad to hear persons getting in touch with their roots. But the best way to find your roots would be looking at the tree… so to speak.

Have you ever asked your father about his family? Why he left? Not every Jamaican leaves “just to get a better life” some run away from problems or hostile areas etc. so it would be good to know


Thanks! That’s a good point.

He has told me stories and stuff - he left for college and never looked back. But without any outside context these stories from his time in Jamaica seem so…idk impersonal? Like stories that take place 30-40 years ago about people I’ve never met, in a place I’ve never been to.

So I’m trying to think of ways to forge my own connections without involving my father, who (for reasons I admittedly don’t really understand) doesn’t want to revisit his own roots.


Well it sounds like it would be good to try reaching here for your own self. But by the way of things you want more than just the tourist experience.

Doing so safely is your highest priority. Best thing to do is try the touristy tour guided way, see what friends you make locally and I’m sure you will be able to find persons that can show you the unbeaten path so to speak


You have contact with him, talk to the man. Tell him your motivations, what you want. He doesn’t have to share the same, just enable you. Give you names. You know his sister, contact her. When you get info on Jamaican family, find them on Facebook. Make friends. When you get to Jamaica, have a quick meetup.


I’ve met a few people on 23&Me from my dad’s side, but the DNA match is always very low and I haven’t been able to figure out with any of the people I’ve talked to, how we’re related. Although I did recently find a first cousin from my mom’s side who I didn’t know existed, that was pretty cool. Especially when she told me about her 4 siblings that I also didn’t know existed lol

Will definitely check out those books!


Sorry to jump on a thread, if you’re trying to work out how you’re connected to your 23andme matches then places like the Jamaican genealogy groups on Facebook (Jamaican genealogy resources and Jamaican DNA roots) are helpful, along with FamilySearch for finding old records.


Ok so not completely the same, as my dad came to UK rather than USA, and he never lived with me, so I know very little Jamaican culture. Bit I’m in a similar position of trying to connect with Jamaican roots without parental guidance/support (I tried connecting with my dad but he now has dementia).

I have managed to make some connection. I bought a cook book and I’m working on teaching myself how to cook Jamaican foods (and increase my spice tolerance). I’ve also been working on digging into more of the island’s culture and history through reading.

The best though has been diving into genealogy. I didn’t even know my grandparents names before I started, or where my dad was from. My Westmoreland geography is pretty good and I know ancestors going back to mid 1800s. Most importantly I have connected with 2nd and 3rd cousins, many of which I am looking forward to meeting in person. They have helped with getting used to the accent and also filling me in on general bits of knowledge.

It’s taking a lot of effort to put this all in place. Someone said to me that a hobby of mine is Jamaican history and culture. It’s not a hobby though, it’s a necessary study to rebuild this broken connection so that my children aren’t in the same position. I’ll likely always seem like a British tourist when I visit but at least I will have tried.

I wish you all the best, you’re not alone, there are a lot of 2nd and 3rd generation members of the diaspora who are disconnected from their roots. Someone really needs to set up a course or social group for those wanting to reconnect!


If you know of any family who were born before 1930 you can search for them on Family Search, you have to sign up but it’s free to search, view and save records.

If you’re on Facebook then I’d highly suggest joining these two groups.

Jamaican Genealogy Resources can help with using Family Search and other resources to find your Jamaican ancestry. Once you have built up your tree it’s much easier to work out that of your matches.

Jamaican DNA Roots can help you make the most of your 23andme results and understand where some of your matches might fit onto your tree.

Good luck!


Well, depending on where you are you can participate in activities put on by the Jamaican Embassy or Consulate.

There are several youtube channels that you can watch.

And I would recommend Portland to visit. There are nice beaches, waterfalls, and delicious foods. Appleton Rum Estate and YS falls in St. Elizabeth.


Hi! Welcome fellow yardee. We run a Jamaican-themed channel. Here are some links that may help you:

  1. Who are Jamaicans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rQzzhgIG4s
  2. Visit YS Falls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdFL1KC1tKI
  3. Here’s book Out of Many One People (some key Jamaican historical people and events, from the Arawaks/Tainos to Shelly-Ann Fraser): https://www.etsy.com/listing/720805250/out-of-many-one-people-paperback-signed?click_key=447641a26efea112d8c3e7c4322c67e60395912b%3A720805250&click_sum=c8d89191&ref=shop_home_recs_7

Feel free to ask us anything, join our community as we are always posting Jamaican-themed content, updates, news, places to visit and food. You got some pretty good advice here. Definitely visit this likkle but tallawah island. Should you need tips, our inbox is opened. We have our ups and downs as Jamaicans as any other nationality but I believe you’ll love your roots - the melting pot of some ethnic groups and cultures (though 90% African descendants). Bless up!


If you would like to search for family, you can actually do it on the RGD (Registrar General Department) website https://www.rgd.gov.jm/index.php/products-and-service/genealogical-researchYou will just have to get the required informations from your dad.


This is a tough one..what does your mother know about your father? And arent you able to do some.detective work.on your father to get legit.information? You can not just jump into the water..Your surname and birth certificate should have some info n that could lead you to.his roots in jamaica..your grandmother and other relatives..you must start there..if.not.then only stories that may.not lead you anywhere will be on the table..somehow he must be made to speak..sorry about your struggle..you can turn it into an interesting adventure..safe journey