Who’s your daddy?

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I was never really interested in genes, DNA and heredity until the day Hannah’s mom and I announced to her parents that she was pregnant. The conversation was somewhat tense and I don’t remember much of it except that Hannah’s grandmother mentioned her concern about what the baby would look like. It went something like this…” for all you know the baby could be black”. And I’m sitting there thinking, “ja and so?” But I kept my tongue.

 In all fairness, she did not mean it in a derogatory way at all. She was referring to my mixed heritage and how various genetic qualities would show themselves in future generations. This got me to questioning my own line of heredity. While none of it can be 100% confirmed, I have established through conversations with my mother and my late father’s sister that I am indeed a veritable mix of diverse cultural and genetic codes, or as we say on the Cape Flats, “‘n regte pavement special” (for my international audience – a genuine person of mixed race).

Apparently there was a Xhosa maiden and a Portuguese gentleman involved in the beginning… the daughter of that union’s ovaries were then fertilised by a Dutch soldier… and the daughter of that union got knocked up by another  Dutch guy … and that’s just on my mother’s side. On my dad’s there’s talk of an Englishman having secret encounters with a beautiful Xhosa maiden, and the subsequent offspring of that union was compromised by Dutch and yet more English influence. We’re also still trying to figure out where grandpa Abrahams got his straight, jet-black hair and Indian features from.

I guess I wanted to be able to tell my daughters that in case one of them gave birth to babies which didn’t quite look like their husbands or lovers, it would not be an inexplicable mystery. I’ve always been of the opinion that a combination of qualities is usually better than having one particular talent, so-to-speak. So to answer the question of “Who’s your daddy?”, I guess our particular, skills, talents and attributes in general can’t really be ascribed to mom and dad alone, or can they?

I mean does the fact that one of Maddison’s ancestors was a Xhosa maiden mean that she’d one day show an affinity for African languages or something? Or that Hannah might be drawn to Portuguese, English or Dutch culture…? I guess time will tell, however, I think we all demonstrate a little something of our ancestors in varying degrees and it’s probably a good thing to know about it so as to avoid confusion one day when (and I can picture this clearly) when Maddison is angry at someone she retorts at the top of her voice “jou ma se P%$#!”. At least she’ll know she inherited that one directly from the Cape Flats.

So what strange fish have you got swimming in your gene pool?

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