Today we're on a journey to Mali, with a family adventure first shared on our MyHeritage French blog.
MyHeritage user Mahmadou Gary was born in Fatao (Cercle of Diéma in the Kayes Region of western Mali) in 1956.
His studies led him all the way to Kishinev, Moldova, where he obtained a Master's Degree in Biology and became a biology professor at Lycée Sankoré of Bamako. After leaving Kishinev, he earned a doctorate in biology at the University of Bamako, where he continued his career.
He was also the mayor of the municipality of Fatao from 1999 to 2004.
Mahmadou first became interested in family history when he attended his mother's funeral in the local village.
Since I was adopted by my uncle’s first wife (polygamous family), I knew nothing of my birth parents. I decided to take the opportunity to learn more about my parents and about all my relatives.
In my village, it was difficult to find any information. With a lack of government educational structures, health services and technical services, everything is passed by word of mouth. This oral tradition can often lead to confusion and a distortion of the truth, facing us with a fuzzy memory.
This is what prompted me to start recording my family history by writing down the initial information I collected from the village elders. I also used the minimal information I collected from the census records from Diangounté Camara. It was difficult as many heads of family do not register everyone in the family to avoid taxation.
He had already done some research online, but was having difficulties in how to handle and understand this research.
Recently, I discovered MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder. It was easy to understand and very easy to use. It was another reason why I didn’t hesitate to get a PremiumPlus subscription. I think Family Tree Builder is great.
I managed to find some information about two or three generations of parts of my family tree. As I added more information, the more I discovered. I honestly admit that our level of development in Africa is far from allowing us to enjoy the full potential of MyHeritage.
Mahmadou has been a MyHeritage member for three months.
I am already used to its features. I can edit, insert photos, and add parents and children, tag photos and more. I love the family tree and memory game, I even ordered one! I also appreciate the look-a-like-meter.
His research has fascinated his family.
The software has fascinated my family, even those who are illiterate. Our children in the diaspora have especially enjoyed this work. I often get a phone or Skype call from relatives in France and the US congratulating and thanking me for the work I have done in the short amount of time. With MyHeritage, my children also know upcoming family events such as birthdays, weddings, and more.
Currently, Mahmadou's family tree includes 860 people in 230 families. They live mainly in Africa, Europe, the US and Canada.
He has discovered some really fascinating family information.
My story could be labeled "GARY: The Unknown Grandfather."
Survey drafts from research I conducted in 1996 in Fatao showed my great-grandfather Yary GARY with five children: Banta, Bakary, Makhan Mariam, Hatou Coumba and Mahamadou.
It is customary among Soninkes to give the father’s name to his first son. Banta's first son was baptized by his wife Hawa Yary. To differentiate it from other Yary is affected her name to her mother and we get: Hawa Yary.
Mahamadou had three wives, and the first son of each was baptized Yary. For example, Sake Yary (Yary, son of Sake), Sumba Yary (son of Sumba) and Sokhona Yary (son of Sokhona).
I personally know all four Yary’s, but there was also a fifth Yary I had forgotten. This is Niougou Yary (son of Niougou). I added it to the tree, but it did not appear in any of the survey drafts. I knew very well that he was part of the family, but how specifically? It was only recently that an uncle told me that the father of Niougou Yary was the sixth child of my great-grandfather Yary. This completed the missing piece of determining my great-grandfather had six children, not five.
Mahmadou offers this advice to those just beginning their family history research:
I would say to everyone to begin your family history research on MyHeritage. It is very easy to use and suitable for all genealogical research.