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Chinese Village Plays Host to Jamaican-American Hakka descendants

Chinese Village Plays Host to Jamaican-American Hakka descendants
Written by Xavier Murphy

People from all over the world travelled to a Chinese village to mark the 200th anniversary of their ancestral home. The celebration featured firecrackers and a lion dance to welcome visitors from the United States, Canada, Britain, Malaysia, and various parts of China, all of whom are linked by blood to Luo Ruifeng, an individual who lived 2,000 years ago in Shenzhen’s Longgang district in southern China. The celebrations took place at the biggest Hakka museum in China – the Crane Lake Hakka Village. The initiator of the celebrations is Paula Williams Madison, a woman who does not look as though she has Chinese ancestors. Madison’s mother was Chinese, and her father was of African-Jamaican heritage. She grew up in Harlem in New York.

After her retirement in 2010, Madison, who previously worked as a journalist and executive at NBC, decided to track down her grandfather, Samuel Lowe, who came from Luo Shui. He traveled to and worked in Jamaica from 1905 to 1933. While in Jamaica, he fathered three children with two Jamaican women. Her search led her from Toronto to Jamaica and ultimately to Shenzhen in 2012, where she met Chinese relatives. Her experience was the subject of a book and documentary “Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China,” which prompted people with similar ancestry to contact her. Some of these people turned out to be relatives, and several traveled to Shenzhen to join in the 200th anniversary celebration.

While in China, the group paid their respects to there ancestors at the altar in the village and watched music and dance performances in its courtyard. They then enjoyed a banquet featuring traditional Hakka cuisine.

Madison visits with her Chinese relatives on a regular basis to connect with the family she never knew and to keep tabs on what goes on in the village. During her celebration visit, she was happy to see photographs of her brother Elrick Junior and herself displayed on a wall with their Chinese names and short biographical information. Displayed next to them was a photo of Arthur George Lowe, or Luo Qifang, an architect in Jamaica who died in 2016 in the US. And so while finding her Chinese grandfather was Madison’s major search goal, she has now connected with other family members from around the world.

Photo Source: Paula Madison

About the author

Xavier Murphy