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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Genealogy - What's yours?

I'm always intrigued by one's ancestry and lineage. I always make it a point to cherish my own. A man who shows no appreciation for his family history is one who fails to be a descendant of his family.

Nearly all Malaysian Chinese trace their ancestral roots to the Chinese provinces of Guangdong 广东省 and Fujian 福建省. Along with Hainan 海南省, these coastal provinces are the largest contributors of Chinese emigrants, who are now collectively known as the Overseas Chinese 海外华人. With 7 million people, Malaysia has the world's 3rd largest Overseas Chinese population after Indonesia and Thailand.

My dad is a Teochew while my mum is a Hakka. Since Mandarin is my mother tongue, I rarely speak Teochew and I'm totally lost in Hakka. How I wish I were fluent in both dialects. In fact, I could understand Cantonese and Hokkien much better. But it's my lifelong dream to make a trip back to where my ancestors came from. To retrace their footsteps is something I hope to accomplish one day.

I read up somewhere that the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan has at least 16 million living descendants today, scattered across the huge Eurasian landmass where he once conquered. Islam's Prophet Muhammad has many living descendants today, and King Abdullah II of Jordan is reportedly the 43rd-generation direct descendant of his. China's greatest sage and teacher Confucius has over 2 million living descendants, most of them living in Mainland China and Taiwan. Have you guys ever met or known someone with the Chinese surname Kong 孔? He or she might have been one of them.

Most Americans have multiple ancestry since America is a land of immigrants and a great melting pot of cultures and traditions. Hollywood actress Brooke Shields is a descendant of distinguished European nobility, including the great 8th-century Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, Valencia-born Pope Alexander VI, English King William the Conqueror, French King Henry IV, and many others. And do you know that Angelina Jolie, Céline Dion, Madonna, Hillary Clinton, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are distant relatives with the common French ancestors?

Sometimes I do wonder who my great great great grandparents were during the heydays of Imperial China. Were they nobility? Artisans? Merchants? Or mere peasants? But whoever they were, I'm proud to be part of the lineage.

Do you know who were your ancestors and where were they from?


may said...

quite interesting, hey. you could get engrosed in just reading about the history of it all.


dad's from that town, mum's from the other side. ;-)

kyh said...

Yup! It's like reading a history chapter of ours! ;)

EastCoastLife said...


Happy Lunar New Year!

kyh said...

Happy Chinese New Year!

Twilight Zone said...

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! The article is very good and enriching!...

kyh said...

Happy Year of the Ox! And thanks for reading the article. :)

chuishen said...

hmm...maybe minion summore? haha~

btw, oversea Chinese should be 海外华人 or 海外华侨?

kyh said...

To me, it's the same. Haha!

But here's a quote from Wikipedia:

"Huáqiáo (Simplified:华侨; Traditional:華僑) refers to Chinese citizens residing in countries other than China. Huáyì (Simplified:华裔; Traditional:華裔) refers to ethnic Chinese residing outside of China. [34] Another often-used term is 海外华人 (hǎiwài huárén), a more literal translation of Overseas Chinese; it is often used by the PRC government to refer to people of Chinese ethnicities who live outside the PRC, regardless of citizenship."