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The Roots Of… The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac and Jessica Williams Discover Their African Ancestry

Using a DNA test, the Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac and Jessica Willams discover their African Ancestry for Okayafrica TV along with Gbenga Akinnagbe.


In our latest installment of "The Roots Of…" series, comedian Wyatt Cenac and Comedy Central's The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams swap saliva with a fuzzy piece of cotton to determine where in Africa – and what tribe – some of their ancestors may have come from. Hosted by The Wire's Gbenga Akinnagbe, Wyatt and Jessica embark on a brief discovery of their respective African Ancestry – what they learn takes them on a whirlwind trip to the Bronx ("the Cameroon of Manhattan") and teaches them about the meaning of "farm car penis husband" (hint: it's NOT a hipster band from Williamsburg). For the real reveal, watch below, and for more laughs, find Wyatt at this month's Shouting At The Screen ("The baddest 70's Blaxploitation! The loudest loud mouths! And a whole lot of drinking!"), and find Jessica guest starring on HBO's GIRLS when she's not suggesting that Bloomberg should have been stop-and-frisking white guys on Wall St.

If you haven’t yet seen our first episodes in “The Roots Of…” series, check here to watch The Roots‘ African ancestry revealed to ?uesto and Black Thought, here to check out Q-Tip‘s real tribe, here to see Flying Lotus trace his own soul makossa to the motherland, and here to see why Michael K Williams has the "Heart of a king, blood of a slave." You too can discover the country and even tribe where it all began: to get your own DNA test, check out our partners over at African Ancestry.

Videographers: Myo Campbell, Chinisha Scott

Sound: Greg Scott

Editor: Jake Remington

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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