Singing all the way home

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The Independent Online
Freetown (Reuters) - An African American grandmother arrived in Sierra Leone yesterday on a quest for her roots, guided by a song taken to the Americas by an ancestor captured by slavers more than two centuries ago, and passed down the generations.

Hundreds of well-wishers turned out at Lungi International Airport, Freetown, to welcome Mary Moran, 75, from Harris Neck, South Carolina, who is accompanied by 14 sons, daughters and grandchildren. Mrs Moran traced her family's origins to the south of the former British colony in West Africa via the song - which is in the local Mende language.

Researchers had played the song in numerous villages without anybody recognising it before they stumbled on Baindu Jabati in Senehum Ngola, who learned the song from her grandmother. The two women are due to sing the song together in the village later today.