Adopted Minnesota Man Learns He Is a Prince

Marty Johnson knew finding his biological father would change his life, but he wasn't prepared for the letter he received at the end of his search.

"Welcome to the Ogike dynasty!" the letter read. "You come from a noble and prestigious family."

Johnson was born after a relationship developed between Kathleen O'Connor Wang, a California college student, and John Ogike, who came to the States from Nigeria to study for a master's degree in education. Johnson was given up for adoption and raised by a family in Minnesota.

Johnson was happy with his life as a mortgage broker in suburban Minnesota, and uninterested in finding his birth parents. But his wife and children encouraged him to look. By chance, his birth mother found him first, and after that Johnson started looking for his father.

Then came the letter revealing Johnson's father was chief of Aboh village in Nigeria, considered royalty in that part of the world. As the chief's first-born son, Johnson was in line to inherit the revered traditional leadership position.

Johnson traveled 6,200 miles to meet the family he never knew.

"My heart just burst," Johnson said of seeing his father for the first time. "I walked up stunned and gave him a hug … It was an amazing feeling in my heart."

Jason Gay, a writer for GQ magazine, accompanied Johnson on his first visit to Aboh.

"People are dancing in the driveway and there are all these relatives, cousins and uncles and all these people Marty has never met in his entire life treating him as though he is some kind of miracle," Gay said.

Johnson, who never knew any blood relatives, met six siblings, his stepmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. He also visited the school his grandfather founded and met with the village elders.

Johnson is now recognized as the next traditional leader of the village, and when his birth father dies, Johnson will choose a chief name like his father did when he chose Udeh-Ekeh. One day Johnson's 6-year-old son, GT, may do the same.

"My son is like, 'Oh,' and my daughter is proud to be a princess," said Johnson's wife, Laura.

But Johnson is not sure he is ready to move to Nigeria and lead a village.

"I'm still learning so much about this," Johnson said. "I don't necessarily have plans to move there, but I'd like to be there. I'd like to go there often, if I can."