Thomas Dexter Jakes Sr., known as T. D. Jakes, is a bishop, author and filmmaker. He is the bishop of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational American megachurch.
In an interview with with BBC Igbo, he said:
“It all started when Henry Lewis Gates, who was at Harvard, decided to this DNA testing to see where my ancestry came from. It was me, it was Oprah Winfrey. It was Quincy Jones and others,
“Mine was traced back to West Africa, to Nigeria and particularly Igbo. My ancestors were Igbos. It’s indescribable. It gives something that we the African-Americans don’t have, which is roots.
“It gave me an understanding of my roots. It was interesting to see how similar my personality is to how Igbo people are described. They’re described as hardworking, industrious and innovative.
“They have strong business acumen. I deeply relate to that. It explained to me; it’s odd that I was never born there, yet, see so many traces. I’ve always had strong business acumen.
“I’ve been aggressive in business. Although I’ve been known for the faith aspect, I have several companies and I’ve owned my own resources. My children all started studying ancestry about Igbos, and even more about Africa. I’ll like to reconnect with our brothers and sisters over there
“When I’m in Nigeria, I eat fufu and jollof rice. I have those kinds of experience. I’ve had more than I can name. I go to Accra in Ghana and Lagos quite often.
“What I know about the food is that it’s almost always hot and spicy. I ate it before but the food over there is so hot it makes your head sweat. And I like it,”
“One of the tragedies of the slave trade is not just that we were taken from our home, culture, people, and food. We lost our history. African-American history is taught over here from boat landings.
“And we assumed a name that does not define us. Jakes is a German name that only signified who owned my ancestors. To reach beyond the boats in chains to touch a soil where I’m from.
“To understand that my ancestors were something before they were a slave is extremely gratifying. It really confirms why I have such fascination about the continent of Africa.”