"This has fascinated my family" Mahamadou Gary, Mali
Mahamadou Gary is from the African country of Mali, born in a village called Fatao. He has a PhD in biology and works as a lecturer at the University of Bamako. Mahamadou’s hunger for learning was definitely part of the motivation behind searching for his past. However, the main trigger for wanting to discover his family history was when his mother passed away back in 1996. Originally adopted by his uncle, he realized that he knew very little about his biological parents.
In a country where family structures are both archaic and complex, he set himself a very difficult task. Family history is passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. Societal leaders such as griots and blacksmiths are officially responsible for this function. However, over time memory fades and the truth can become distorted. With large families, a lack of educational facilities, technical services and a total absence of vital records, Mahamadou’s research relied heavily on knowledge of the senior members of the village and research tools on MyHeritage that allowed him to document and preserve all the memories, names and photos he discovered.
His efforts paid off. Once Mahamadou began his research he was quickly able to go back 3 generations. The more information he added and the further he searched, led him to “discover wonders”. One surprising discovery he made along the way was that his great-grandfather had six children, as opposed to the five that he previously knew of. This opened up a whole new branch in his family tree. Through collaborative family tree building, he’s managed to go even further into his family’s past.
Mahamadou says one of the greatest benefits from his research has been getting his family interested, engaged and inspired by his research. In addition his children use MyHeritage to know about upcoming events such as birthdays or anniversaries.
“It’s so easy to use, all the family can understand their heritage now.”
At the moment Mahamadou’s family tree has an impressive 1,152 individuals and 339 families, spreading across Africa, Europe, USA and Canada. The Soninke, his ethnic group, are known to be great adventurers and using MyHeritage, Mahamadou has connected with relatives living in Asia, Hong Kong and Bangkok. He often receives messages of thanks and congratulations from these relatives for the work he has done in helping them understand and connect to their roots.