Hollywood actor, Rockmond Dunbar traces his DNA to Yoruba land in Nigeria. He was recently welcomed to the Yoruba community at the Egbe Omo Yoruba national convention held in New York. In this video, Rockmond, whose name was changed to Omobowale Adunbarin by the MC at the convention, talked about why he did the DNA test and his experience in Nigeria. The actor is well known for his role in Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys, Soul Food, and other movies.
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Please introduce yourself
My name is Rockmond Dunbar, am a writer, director, producer, and actor. I went to Port-Harcourt, Nigeria last year to hold a film festival, and it seems like God was just calling me back and fort to Africa. And in the last 10 months, I’ve been there six times.
Why did you do the DNA test?
I had the opportunity in Atlanta through the African ancestry program to get my DNA tested to find out what will my African ancestry be and I thought that would be absolutely incredible and eye opening. People in general, we want to figure out what we’re made of, where we’re from, what’s our destiny, we want to figure out what makes us tick, why our eyes are shaped in certain ways, or our skins in certain complexion. Those are the things that can help us trace back our roots and find some type of grounding.
My result came back with one of the oldest dynasties in Nigeria, which is the Yoruba, so I’m from the Yoruba decent. Now I’m just trying to come back and introduce myself to the Yoruba communities in the United States and also in Africa to continue to learn more about my root.
What was your reaction when the result came out?
I was so excited, regardless of what result came back, just to have the result was very important. It just makes me feel complete; it makes me feel whole.
How was your time in Nigeria?
I was able to dive into the culture a little bit; I got to meet a lot of people that explained the culture, the history, not just of Yoruba, but also of Nigeria as a whole.
What did you enjoy most?
Meeting with the artists, directors and producers from Nigeria, and learning that Nigeria is such a force in making films and putting out hundreds and almost a thousand films in a year. That is really astonishing!
Any plans with Nollywood?
The most important thing I want to incorporate in working with my Nigerian brothers and sisters is I know they have a lot of quantity, but bringing some type of quality to the work. And I think from my over 25 years of experience, I can help bring different ideas, different instruments, different ways of approaching scenes and story telling. And I hope to collaborate more with my brothers and sisters in Nigeria, to bring my experience to the table.
Any culture shock in Nigeria?
There was no culture shock. The only difference is we got to the airport and the guys are telling you ‘Open up your bags,’ and they take you to a little office, but thank God I have my diplomatic passport, so that didn’t happen too many times, yet that was a little abrasive.
But I pretty much felt at home, there was no fear. A lot of Americans, a lot of African-Americans don’t want to go to Africa because of the ideas they were fed by the negative history. So, most people in America think if you go to Africa you’re gonna have flies all over your face and you’re gonna starve to death, which is so ignorant and misleading.
My family was really worried, they would call me to say ‘Are you ok? Whatever you need, we’ll send it.’ I remember skyping with my business partner and she was so worried. So I took the laptop and did a 360 degrees panning, and when she saw where I was, she was like wow! I’m sitting in a 5-star hotel by the beach, having a good time. I do have clean water, and really fresh food everyday, that made me happy, we don’t have that in the America. I literally went from 212 pounds to 186 pounds just by eating fresh food, foods with no preservatives. So, I went back home very healthy.