3    Jul 20120 comments

MyHeritage: An African diplomat’s story

We were delighted to learn of Lesotho diplomat Paramente Phamotse’s heritage story.

Born and raised in a rural African village, Paramente, 45, attended a Christian mission school, attended secondary education and received an undergraduate degree (1989) in mathematics and education, and an MA.

Since then Paramente has worked as a teacher, school inspector and education administrator in Lesotho and South Africa. He studied international education in the UK in 2003, and was appointed a Lesotho diplomat – and posted to Dublin – in 2011.

My interest and research in family genealogy is one of my hobbies.

Paramente writes:

In our culture, family history plays an important role in family and national issues; during weddings, funerals, and other traditional rituals, genealogy plays a central role in succession, inheritance, naming of newborn babies etc.

As he grew older, he learned that very little of his family history and genealogy was written down. As the older folks were being lost to age, their history was dying.

My grandfather had kept a personal journal where he recorded all significant and family and national events by date from about 1915 until he died in 1949. This reminded me that written work is more likely to reach the posterity with greater accuracy than oral history.

Paramente’s father - Charles Mpoko Phamotse – is 82, and the oldest known living person in our family. He continues to play his role in keeping his father’s legacy alive after his father died in 1949. He continues to record the births and deaths of family members brought to his attention to the present date.

Our MyHeritage site is dedicated to him.

Paramente's father, Charles Mpoko Phamotse

Paramente's father, Charles Mpoko Phamotse

Paramente thought he should start collecting and writing down the family stories, and developed a sizeable collection of family anecdotal information.

In our family, I’m now an authority who is consulted on family history issues.

Along the way, he’s discovered many interesting facts:

On his father’s side, the family has been using the same family name since the early 19th-century. However, they had also noted family relationships with others who use different family names back to the mid-17th century.

He’s learned that family members were living in such far-away locations as Newcastle (UK) and Auckland, New Zealand. Since then, he’s made contact with them.

I have discovered people I had known all my life and only discovered that we were closely related.

I still think the biggest surprises lie ahead as we explore the DNA tests.

Paramente joined MyHeritage in June 2011. He was searching for a web solution that could assist him to collate and publish information that he’d gathered for some six years.

I tried a few others, but MyHeritage just had the appropriate applications and was not too complicated to build. It allows other family members to be invited as site managers which allows for their input. Perhaps most importantly, you can adjust the privacy settings to leave people’s personal information out of public access. The combination of information and pictures also makes it absolutely unique.

His extended family is building the site.

Even those who don’t have Internet access provide their inputs by telephone, by fax, by letter to add and correct information. The printing function makes it easy to literally print the output and get feedback from the offline members.

Currently, his tree includes more than 1,450 individuals spanning three centuries, and up to 40 generations in some instances.

I have now more than 1,450 family members spanning 3 centuries and up to 40 generations in some instances. Many of them we are related by marriage, whom in our culture are important relations.

He has had Smart Matches from three other family sites. For some of them, the relationships were unknown prior to posting the tree online.

Paramente today exchanges regular emails with those he hadn’t normally communicated with at all, prior to MyHeritage. He has become acquainted with close family members who were previously unknown. Some of them have grandchildren, and it has been “absolutely delightful.”

He shared a wonderful story with MyHeritage:

My grandfather adopted a son in 1909; a boy who had come a long way from another country to attend a famous Christian mission school. While his family was still alive, he opted not to return to his original home when he finished his education. My father had grown up knowing him as his big brother and his children as our cousins. I only recently learned know how we are related.

Paramente shared the following tips for beginners:

Volunteer to share the stories that you already have in conversations, emails, etc; about the names, places and relationships.

You may be surprised how much people already know and are not telling, just because they think nobody is interested.

With the advent of the internet and search engines, you will be amazed of how much new information surfaces everyday about people in your family.

We thank Paramente for sharing his story with our readers.

We’d like to encourage you to share your stories with us. Let us know in the comments below.

Search for your ancestors:

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