Planet Pandora

My oldest brother, Nathaniel, had a DNA analysis from and discovered our mother’s roots were from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria and our father’s roots were from the Balanta tribe in Guinea-Bissau. A Bronner brothers tradition is that the brothers take a week-long trip together once a year. The choice of the trip rotates among the brothers, and this year was my year to choose the destination and the activities. I wanted to go home. When I say home, I really mean HOME.

After a little research, we found out that Nigeria was one of the most dangerous places on earth and Guinea-Bissau was one of the safest places on earth. Sorry, Mom, but your sons, which include a bishop and three pastors, chose Guinea-Bissau.

In 1976, Alex Haley published the book Roots . The main character, Kunta Kinte, was from The Gambia. Gambia is only 100 miles from Guinea-Bissau, so off to Gambia we went.

The flight from the U.S. to Gambia was 8 hours. We thought the 100-mile drive to Guinea-Bissau would take about 2 hours. We took a car to Guinea-Bissau and the 8-hour drive was an experience. We drove through Senegal, which has recently been plagued by rebels. There were literally 30 checkpoints. Hardened soldiers checked our passports over and over. A normal procedure is when you get to a checkpoint, only the driver stays in the car. Passengers must get out of the car, be searched and walk past the checkpoint.

Upon arrival in Guinea-Bissau, we found a local guide who took us to a Balanta settlement. After 15 minutes of walking down a dirt road, we came to THE FOREST. I felt something special. It felt like we were on the set of Avatar . I truly believe Avatar was filmed here. We stood among the giant trees and could feel a link and power of the motherland like we could have never imagined. We felt it and it was real. We talked with the fathers, mothers and children, and before we left, out of the woods came three young Balanta boys. Now we really felt like we were on planet Pandora from the movie Avatar. Look at the pictures and videos from our trip on our website and enjoy our going home with us.


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