“Cameroon/Congo” = moreso Angola/Congo for Diasporans?

I have created a new page featuring the AncestryDNA results for persons from Central Africa as well as Southern Africa. I will create a new section for West Africa shortly. Despite the minimal number of results i have collected sofar i also provide some statistical data, background information and relevant context.

Follow this link to view the page:

***(click to enlarge)

compilccdiasp2

AncestryDNA results from Cameroon & Congo contrasted with AncestryDNA results from across the Diaspora showing maximum scores of socalled “Cameroon/Congo”.

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In addition i also discuss the implications these results might have for Afro-Diasporans. Generally speaking when it comes to tracing back the main strains of regional African lineage for Afro-Diasporans in the Americas undoubtedly results from the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Angola will be most relevant, given historical plausibility and cultural retention. Although also Cameroon, Mozambique, Madagascar and directly surrounding countries, such as Zambia, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Malawi are not to be overlooked. As a general disclaimer of course in individual cases several ancestral scenarios might apply. And with corroborating evidence a Cameroonian or rather a Bight of Biafra connection might still be demonstrated to be valid for many persons. Even when based on the discussion below Congolese & Angolan ancestry seems much more likely on average.

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Implications for Afro-Diasporans:

1) Congolese & Angolan ancestry more likely than Cameroonian ancestry?

***(click to enlarge)

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I have posted a very insightful selection of Central & Southern African AncestryDNA results on this page. Even if still quite limited in number and scope. In particular analyzing results from the Congo as well as Angola will be most relevant when it comes to tracing back the regional African lineage of Afro-Diasporans in the Americas. Followed with some distance by Mozambique. Given that an overwhelming majority of enslaved Central & Southeastern Africans was shipped through and also hailing from these countries. Furthermore the cultural retention from these countries among the Afro-Diaspora is pivotal and undeniable.

Regrettably at this moment i do not have sufficient results available from either Angola, Congo (DRC & Brazzaville) or Mozambique. However the mere circumstance that these results are not yet plentifully represented on my blog should not distract from the very high likelyhood that generally speaking Angola & Congo will be the chief source for any socalled “Cameroon/Congo” reported for Afro-Diasporans (at least Trans Atlantic ones). While quite likely Angola and Mozambique will be the chief source for any socalled “Southeastern Bantu”. On the other hand of course also their directly neighbouring countries are bound to have ancestral significance for the Atlantic Afro-Diaspora, even if to a (much) lesser degree. Afterall only a few centuries ago their territories would just have been a continuous part of a borderless hinterland for slave trading routes to the coast. These countries being Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar. For more background information on these countries see:

***Map 1 (click to enlarge)

map-slavetrade

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (2010) (http://www.slavevoyages.org/)

***Chart 1 (click to enlarge)

tast-camr-ports

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (2016) (http://www.slavevoyages.org/)

***Chart 2 (click to enlarge)

Chambers (2002) - Table 3, Estimated Percentage of Igbo captives per slave port (1701-1810)

Source: “Rejoinder – The Significance of Igbo in the Bight of Biafra Slave-Trade- A Rejoinder to Northrup’s Myth Igbo ” (D.B. Chambers, 2002)

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“It now appears that from 1751 to 1840, about 62,000 captives left from the Cameroons River and Bimbia for the Americas, with possibly a few hundred more taken to the islands in the Bight. This was between 5 and 6 per cent of the total carried off from the Bight of Biafra in this period and, of course, a much smaller share again of the total traffic.” (Characteristics of captives leaving the Cameroons for the Americas, 1822-37, 2002, p.194)

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It is well advised to remain cautious when exploring any genuine ancestral ties with Cameroon despite the country name labeling being applied by AncestryDNA. Historically speaking it is known that the participation of ethnic groups from Cameroon in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was relatively quite minimal. According to estimates only about 5% of all the people being carried off from the Bight of Biafra (= eastern Nigeria + Cameroon). Although the true share might be somewhat obscured due to the fact that mainly slave ports nowadays located in eastern Nigeria were being used (such as Calabar). Rather than slave ports located on the Cameroonian coast (such as Bimbia) which was the least frequented part of the Bight of Biafra together with Gabon. Still even for (old) Calabar which is closest to the Cameroon border it is assumed that Igbo captives made up a clear majority and not people of modernday Cameroonian origin. As can be verified from charts 1 & 2 shown above. Furthermore (West-)Central African slave ports all combined are known to have exported even greater numbers than the most frequented ports (incl. Bonny) of Bight of Biafra (chart 2 only showing a subselection) as can be seen in map 1.

On the other hand it also seems quite conceivable that the genetic importance of Cameroon in DNA testing for Diasporans has been overstated because of a relative abundance of Cameroonian samples to be matched with (both uniparentally and in autosomal testing such as AncestryDNA). While other samples from especially non-Igbo groups within southeastern Nigeria but also from the Congo and Angola are relatively lacking. I will eventually do a follow-up blogpost on this topic.

We have to keep in mind that samples from two very diverse countries, Cameroon & Congo, have been joined together in one single region named “Cameroon/Congo” on AncestryDNA. By the manner it has been designed this socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region is most unfortunately describing ancestral connections to both Central Africa and the Bight of Biafra hinterland. As we can verify from actual Cameroonian and Congolese results, this socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region does indeed have a high prediction accuracy for both countries. However in addition it might also describe (Bantu) origins from other countries such as Angola, Zambia and even Madagascar! In theory therefore any of these places and also a combination of them might qualify as being the ancestral source for a socalled “Cameroon/Congo” score being reported for an Afro-Diasporan.

To complicate things even further also southeastern Nigerians tend to score substantial amounts for this region. Although on average the “Nigeria” region will still be primary for them. For 11 Igbo results in my survey (see this sheet for an overview) i have found a group average of almost 15% “Cameroon/Congo” and a maximum score of 34%. While for 1 single person from Cross River State (possibly Efik) “Cameroon/Congo” was as high as 35%, impressive but again still secondary. This might imply that a substantial degree of Igbo or related southeastern Nigerian ancestry would not only result in “Nigeria” amounts being inherited. But in addition could also have resulted in inherited DNA markers nowadays being described as “Cameroon/Congo” by AncestryDNA. Although given that sofar this region is only secondary for eastern Nigerians i would personally refrain from making such an assumption when the test results of an Afro-Diasporan show “Cameroon/Congo” in first place or with an amount >15%. A Central African explanation than seems to be most plausible. Even when a Cameroonian ancestral option might still also be taken into consideration when other supporting evidence exist (in particular DNA matches). For further reference see also:

 

***Chart 3 (click to enlarge)

tast-biafra-vs-wca-nrs

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (2016) (http://www.slavevoyages.org/) (Hispaniola=Dominican Republic; Saint Domingue=Haiti; Spanish Circum-Carribean is Colombia, Venezuela, Central America & Mexico).

 

***Chart 4 (click to enlarge)

tast-biafra-vs-wca-perc

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (2016) (http://www.slavevoyages.org/) (Hispaniola=Dominican Republic; Saint Domingue=Haiti; Spanish Circum-Carribean is Colombia, Venezuela, Central America & Mexico).

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Seeking a proper context is always essential when trying to interpret your own personal “Cameroon/Congo” test results. Not only your unique family history will matter in this regard but also your nationality or even your provincial/regional origins within your home country. In order to provide more solid ground to determine the plausibility of various ancestral scenarios i have performed a search in the invaluable Slave Voyages Database. It should be pointed out though that only Trans Atlantic data is being included and not Inter-Colonial data so these charts are not intended to reflect the full picture. Especially English contraband slave trading was very significant for Latin America and to a lesser degree also Haiti. While for the USA especially Domestic Slave Trade from the Upper South looms large. For all countries obviously also Post-Slavery migrations should be taken into consideration (for more disclaimers see this page).

As can be seen in the above screenshots the relative importance of either Bight of Biafra (incl. Cameroon but only to a minor degree) or West Central Africa (mainly Congo & Angola) varies a lot for each particular destination within the Americas. And just to reiterate a credible Cameroon proportion of the total Bight of Biafra numbers has been estimated to be no more than 5%. Taking a less conservative stance this estimate might perhaps be increased to 10-15%  but either way it will only be a minor share. As most historians believe that the Igbo’s formed a majority or atleast a plurality among Bight of Biafra captives. Hence it seems reasonable to assume that a Bight of Biafra connection will be described by AncestryDNA, primarily by reporting a hefty “Nigeria” score and quite likely also some minor “Benin/Togo” in addition to secondary “Cameroon/Congo” amounts.

Reviewing the charts above it seems generally speaking that only for Virginia and Jamaica a good case might be made to suspect an increased probability of genuine origins from Cameroon or southeastern Nigeria based on a socalled “Cameroon/Congo” score. In this light the socalled Moco or Moko people from the Anglo-Carribean Slave registers seem especially research worthy. This was a commonly used ethnic label to refer to captives from the borderlands of Nigeria/Cameroon. Often thought to refer to either the Efik or Ibibio but quite likely also including other ethnic groups. Also Puerto Rico and Cuba show quite balanced Biafra versus Central Africa proportions. And in fact there is also plentiful evidence of southeastern Nigerian (“Carabali”) and even Cameroonian presence in the Hispanic Caribbean.

In sharp contrast with the Virginia data it seems that generally speaking for South Carolina primarily Central African origins will be implied by “Cameroon/Congo”. And this goes even more so for Brazil and other parts of mainland Latin America. Interestingly Bahia does show a slight inclination to Bight of Biafra though compared with Southeast Brazil (Rio & Minas Gerais). The numbers for Haiti might be a bit skewed because a substantial Igbo/Biafran presence has been historically attested in slave registers as well as cultural retention. Still again a Central African interpretation for the socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region also seems unquestionable for Haitians in most cases. The Dominican case perhaps being most undecided because of the large degree of undocumented slave trade. To be sure the Central African documented presence is overwhelming and ubiquitous for practically all parts of the Americas, and in fact also for Jamaica and Virginia. For more details see:

 

***Chart 5 (click to enlarge)

diasp-comp-br12

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The above chart is displaying the current findings of my ongoing cross-Diaspora survey of AncestryDNA results (see this page for a full overview). We can verify that sofar the socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region is most prevalent among Brazilians and Haitians. I have sofar also observed the highest maximum individual “Cameroon/Congo” scores for a Haitian and Brazilian (see the compilation picture in the opening section of this blog). Which is in line with expectations as Brazil and Haiti had a greater share of slave trade with Central Africa than the other countries being mentioned in the overview (see this page). The other “Cameroon/Congo” proportions are usually also closely related to the documented share of Central Africa in Slave Trade for each nationality. Even more so when combined with the “Southeastern Bantu” scores. For example for the USA, “Cameroon/Congo” and “Southeastern Bantu” combined would be 26,5% (20% + 6,5%). Which corresponds very nicely with an estimated share of Central Africa in the slave trade to the US of about 25% (see this chart). Eventhough due to limited samplesize this data is preliminary it is still also cross-sectional because it was collected from various parts of the Diaspora and also at random. Overall contributing to the robustness of the data. Therefore based on these findings i am inclined to say that indeed on average “Cameroon/Congo” will be more likely to signal Central African (incl. Congo & Angola) origins rather than Biafran (southeast Nigeria & Cameroon) ones. Although again context is everything and combined with additional supporting evidence a Biafran or even a strictly Cameroonian connection could still be feasible in many cases.

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2) Southwestern Bantu ancestry much more likely than Southeastern Bantu ancestry

***Map 4 (click to enlarge)

***Chart 8 (click to enlarge)

HGDP database incl. Namibian samples (“Bantu S.W.”= Southwestern Bantu)

hgdp

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I will eventually provide a follow up to this section. I will then focus in greater detail on the implications for Afro-Diasporans looking into possible interpretations for their socalled “Southeastern Bantu” scores. Right now I will however already point out the following. Unless guided by wishful thinking or delusional ideology it is advisable to be very mindful of “false positives”That is DNA results which on first sight seem to suggest East African origins to some degree. But on closer and more critical inspection they actually are referring to much widerranging origins, including Central & Southern Africa. Usually this occurs because of ambigious phrasing or inadequate sampling by DNA companies but it is also caused by incorrect interpretation and having insufficient knowledge about the relevant context as well as inherent limitations of DNA testing. Furthermore the widespread Bantu migrations across this greater part of Africa also tend to complicate things genetically speaking.

Various and at times mutually exclusive ancestral scenarios will be implied by AncestryDNA results. All depending on your own family history and especially the population history of the ethnic group you belong to. The socalled “Southeastern Bantu” regional score being reported for a Kenyan or a South African will trace back to an entirely different set of ancestors than for let’s say a Jamaican. Afterall also Southwestern Bantu origins, especially from Angola, might be referred to by this socalled “Southeastern Bantu” region. As can be seen in the map above and also the fact that this region is most likely based on Bantu speaking samples from not only Kenya and South Africa but also Namibia, which is a neighbouring country for Angola! This can be verified from the overview of the HGDP database (chart 8) which according to Ancestry’s own information was utilized for their reference panel (see AncestryDNA Regions for sources).

In order to improve the interpretation of the socalled “Southeastern Bantu” region it is indeed crucial to be aware that this region is based on HGDP samples from Kenya (unspecified Bantu), South Africa (Pedi, Sotho, Tswana and Zulu) and Namibia (Herero, Ovambo). Obviously for South Africans a genetic similarity to the South African samples will apply just as for East Africans a genetic similarity to the Kenyan samples will apply. However for Afro-Diasporans in the Americas any socalled “Southeastern Bantu” score will in most cases be the result of genetic similarity to the Namibian samples used by AncestryDNA. Namibia being a neighbouring country to Angola, which together with the Congo has been a significant region of provenance for practically all Afro-Diasporans in the Americas. See  charts 9-11 below.

While Southeast Africa, in particular Mozambique, did indeed function as a source for Trans-Atlantic Slave trade as well, the numbers involved are much more reduced. And for East African countries further up north (the socalled “Swahili Coast”) barely any documented evidence seems to exist1. Proportionally speaking Southeast Africa represents less than 5% of the total slave trade for practically all of the Americas, safe for Brazil (still less than 10%). While for the USA it was even less than 2%. The proportional share of Central Africa in Trans Atlantic Slave Trade is estimated to have been 8 up to 15 times greater than for Southeast Africa! As can be seen in the following charts taken from the Slavevoyages Database.

***Chart 9 (click to enlarge)

TAST - all - percentagesa

Source: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database 2016 (http://www.slavevoyages.org)

***Chart 10 (click to enlarge)

tast-wca-vs-sea-nrs

Source: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database 2016 (http://www.slavevoyages.org)

***Chart 11 (click to enlarge)

tast-wca-vs-sea-perc

Source: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database 2016 (http://www.slavevoyages.org)

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Another strong indication of southwestern rather than southeastern Bantu origins being prevalent for Diasporans (in the Americas)  has been established during my ongoing survey of AncestryDNA results among Afro-descended nationalities (see this page for a full overview). In which sofar socalled “Southeastern Bantu” reaches its highest group average among  Brazilians followed by the Mexicans. Both countries having an undeniably well attested historical connection with Angola! Also for other Latin Americans rather elevated group averages are arising. For American Americans the “Southeast Bantu” region is showing up more pronounced than for Jamaicans on average. Which is in line with general slave trade statistics. And again it’s very likely referring to more than just strictly Southeast African origins. Mozambican and Madagascar ancestry remain theoretical possibilities but more remotely so based on slave trade statistics (see charts above). When combined with additional evidence the Madagascar options may be made more plausible though.

As Angola doesn’t have its own separate region yet on AncestryDNA (despite probably being the greatest source of African slaves to the Americas as a whole) it is very likely that most of Angolan ancestry will be described by socalled “Southeastern Bantu” in combination with “Cameroon/Congo”. Undoubtedly given that only 18 samples were used by AncestryDNA there is much room for improving the socalled “Southeastern Bantu” category.  Obviously adding samples from Mozambique and Angola will provide a much better picture.

***Chart 12 (click to enlarge)

diaspora-comp-seb-br-n12

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It is good to keep all of the above in mind as the DNA testing science is still in full development and personal DNA-test results will be imperfect and preliminary. Any outcomes seemingly suggestive of non-conventional African ancestry among Afro-Diasporans should therefore be evaluated critically in order to rule out any false positives. See below claims of Kenyan ancestry by an African American politician and how they were received by Kenyans. Rather similarly to the claims of Zulu ancestry by Oprah Winfrey:

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Notes

  1. Based on the records available in the standard reference database of the Slave Voyages website this East African share in Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade might be less than 0.1% (=6324/6709327). Comparing the total number (6,324) of disembarked captives for Kilwa, Zanzibar and Mombasa, all Swahili ports to the north of Mozambique, with the total number of disembarked captives from Southeast Africa (308,775, overwhelmingly from Mozambican ports with main destination being Brazil) and all of Africa (6,709,327). Naturally all of this is according to what has been documented and excluding voyages with unknown itineraries.

***(click to enlarge)

TAST (Swahili ports, numbers, destinations specified)

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29 thoughts on ““Cameroon/Congo” = moreso Angola/Congo for Diasporans?

    • I have been granted access to the DNA matches of several Congolese people who tested with AncestryDNA. They have matches all over the Diaspora, incl. Haiti as well as South Carolina. I intend to blog about their DNA matches eventually. I believe that insightful patterns might be uncovered already.

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  1. My previous results were: 46% Nigerian 14% Cameroon/Congo 12% Mali 12% IvoryCoast/Ghana 8%Great Britain 3%Senegal 2% Africa SE Bantu 2% Africa SC HG 1% Native American

    Updated Results: (Shocking) 52% Cameroon/Congo 28%Benin/Togo 6%IvoryCoast/Ghana 4%England and Wales 3%Mali 3%France 1% Nigeria 1%Native American 1%Senegal 1%Africa SC HG

    What’s your thoughts on this?

    Like

    • My thoughts? To sum it up in 1 word: FAIL, haha. To be fair I do think that on some fronts this update will be improving things. Especially the European and Asian breakdowns and possibly also a more accurate trace region reporting. But as I have argued elsewhere I highly suspect this update will NOT be an improvement in regards to the African breakdown. Instead regrettably it might lead to less insight into the African regional roots of Afro-descendants and actual Africans. In the last past years I did find that regionally speaking the previous version of AncestryDNA was reasonably in line with either historical plausibility or actual verifiable genealogy. Despite several shortcomings as well as the continued need for correct interpretation. However I fear that this will no longer be the case after the update. Or at least to a much lesser degree…

      If Ancestry asks you about your feedback please forward them this link (when in agreement of course 😉 ):

      Suggestions for improving the African breakdown on AncestryDNA
      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/suggestions-for-improving-the-african-breakdown-on-ancestrydna/

      I will need more data about this update to make any sound judgement. But in your case it seems very likely that your “Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu” and “Benin/Togo” scores are greatly inflated while your true degree of Nigerian lineage might be seriously underestimated in this breakdown. My advise to you is to do more research into the relevant historical context (depending on where your family’s from going back as far as you can trace): see also this overview:

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/tables-on-ethnicregional-background/

      Furthermore having a systematic look into your DNA matches in order to find African DNA cousins will also be very helpful to get a better idea about your African lineage:

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/how-to-find-those-elusive-african-dna-matches-on-ancestry-com/

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      • Thanks for the information and knowledge.
        I remember being confused that I didn’t have Benin/Togo and now that I have it I’m not even sure it’s legitimate.
        Even Igbo cousins I’ve met through ancestry have about 10% -18% Benin/Togo.
        I’ll just try to find more cousins.The only cool thing I found is 3% French.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’d actually bet that the previous 8% Great Britain number is likely closer to the truth only because Southern England has significant (distant) French ancestry. That’s likely that that is measuring. From a big study that made the rounds a few years ago:

          “People living in southern and central England today typically share about 40% of their DNA with the French, 11% with the Danes and 9% with the Belgians, the study of more than 2,000 people found. The French contribution was not linked to the Norman invasion of 1066, however, but a previously unknown wave of migration to Britain some time after then end of the last Ice Age nearly 10,000 years ago.”

          https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/18/genetic-study-30-percent-white-british-dna-german-ancestry

          Kind of depends on where your people came from in England, though. I have pretty significant and documented English ancestry, but most of it appears to have been much more native British or from Scandinavia and not from the “mixed” South. For the British as a whole:

          “The analysis shows that the Anglo-Saxons were the only conquering force, around 400-500 AD, to substantially alter the country’s genetic makeup, with most white British people now owing almost 30% of their DNA to the ancestors of modern-day Germans.”

          All this is to say that it’s very hard to nail down “British” ancestry. So unless you can document the “French” my guess would be that it’s probably from England.

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  2. Do you think benin/togo is legit or just noise? Is my Nigerian score is represented through cameroon/congo? These results confused me so much lol.

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      • Thank you very much. That link cleared up my confusion. Also, one more thing. Someone contacted me this year on Ancestry and his background is mostly Western European. He told me he found that his connection to me is through IvoryCoast/Ghana(He received 2%).
        Then he asked if I know of any slave on a plantation in New Orleans.
        As far as I know, I had no connection to New Orleans.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Both “Benin/Togo” and “Cameroon/Congo” eat into people’s “Nigeria” score I’ve found, since they border the country on opposite sides. Most of my matches have been Nigerian, but near the Nigeria’s borders with these two regions, and yet I only get 1% Nigeria on the current/old update and none on the potential new update. It seems more than almost any area Nigeria gets the shaft, and even more so in the newer results. I think Fonte showed on another post that “Nigeria” in the potential new update is moved way up into the central and north of Nigeria, where much less of the diaspora is from, so even fewer people testing are going to get this region.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In the new update I received only 1% Nigeria as well. Going from 46% to 1% is quite ridiculous. I suppose Cameroon/Congo is describing my Igbo side (Southeast Nigeria). Similarly, Benin/Togo is describing West Nigeria.
        Also, the (updated) Nigeria region is in Hausa-Fulani territory, so I’m not sure if the ones receiving this is indicating Hausa or Fulani possibly.

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        • Yes, this new “Nigeria” would likely be heavily weighed toward the Hausa and Fulani, at least much more so than the current “Ngieria” region, whereas like you said it appears southwest and southeast Nigeria are given over to “Benin/Togo” and “Cameroon/Congo” respectively.

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  3. I suppose Cameroon/Congo is describing my Igbo side (Southeast Nigeria). Similarly, Benin/Togo is describing West Nigeria.

    Unfortunately it seems that such seemingly logical regional tendencies do not apply in the new situation and instead it will be much more random… These are the updated results of an Igbo person. She had 87% “Nigeria” in the current version, one of the highest scores in my survey. Only 5% is left over… So “Nigeria” is indeed really getting the shaft haha at least when it comes to describing southern Nigerian DNA. But take notice that “Benin/Togo” made the biggest jump ahead to 56% even when “Cameroon, Congo and Southern Bantu” also made a significant gain.

    {“version”:4,”createdAt”:1535012644000,”regions”:[{“key”:”BeninTogo”,”percentage”:56,”lowerConfidence”:53,”upperConfidence”:67,”lowConfidenceAssignment”:false,”color”:”#f1e000″},{“key”:”CameroonCongo”,”percentage”:39,”lowerConfidence”:0,”upperConfidence”:39,”lowConfidenceAssignment”:false,”color”:”#75cd00″},{“key”:”Nigeria”,”percentage”:5,”lowerConfidence”:0,”upperConfidence”:25,”lowConfidenceAssignment”:false,”color”:”#00cc99″}]}

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    • Also, the (updated) Nigeria region is in Hausa-Fulani territory, so I’m not sure if the ones receiving this is indicating Hausa or Fulani possibly.

      Nigerian Hausa-Fulani show varied levels of “Nigeria” in the current version. However this is a rather recent addition to their main African breakdown due to inter-ethnic unions with Hausa people in the last two centuries or so. Otherwise their African breakdown is usually exclusively consisting of “Senegal”, “Mali” and “Africa North”. Correctly describing their ancestral origins to be from around the Senegal river. See also this overview of my survey findings (scroll down to row 134 for Hausa-Fulani):

      Online spreadsheet containing Hausa-Fulani AncestryDNA results

      From what I’ve read the odds of having any genuine Hausa-Fulani lineage for African Americans are very small because 1) slave trade by way of the Bight of Benin involving actual Fulani captives was very decreased because their Sokoto caliphate was almost always on the winning hand 2) the slave trade associated with the Hausa-Fulani took place mostly in the 1800’s after the US had already installed their ban on Trans-Atlantic slave trade. 3) slave trade from the Bight of Benin into the US was relatively minor either way: estimated share being less than 3% of direct Trans Atlantic slave voyages (see this page)

      I have however seen many African American matches being reported for Hausa-Fulani people. But i’m pretty sure in almost all cases these ancestral connections (when legit and not false positives) are the result of common Fula ancestors from the Upper Guinea area. Some descendants getting caught up in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and being shipped to the US via either Senegambia or Sierra Leone. While close relatives of these captives might have gone east around the same time (1700’s) migrating ever further beyond Mali into Niger and northern Nigeria. Where they would eventually blend into a new ethnic group called the Hausa-Fulani during the 1800’s and 1900’s.

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    • Wow. Even I though prior to the update my results were similar to an Igbo.
      Given that Igbo girl’s new top region is Benin/Togo and second is Benin/Togo.
      I’m the opposite with Cameroon/Congo on top and Benin/Togo as secondary.

      Thankfully, this blog clears up my questions but Ancestry is confusing lots of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I have a name and a group I need some information that I can not find any information on. I have a African match on Ancestry from Cameroon. He hasn’t been on since June, so I’ve not been able to follow up with him. Anyway, his surname is Beseka, which is the name of a group of hard-to-catch fish in his area, and he says his father is from the Balundo group. The other information is that he was from the Southwest Region, which isn’t really cardinally southwest, but that’s a whole other discussion. lol

    Anyway, the Southwest Region borders Nigeria to the west and it looks to be split between Semi-Bantu groups in the north (or west) and Bantu groups to the south (or east). However, I can find no mention of the Balundo, or which of these two linguistic groups they’d fit into. Anyway hear eve heard of the Balundo or recognize the surname Beseka?

    Back to the bigger picture, I’m actually kind of surprised I haven’t found any modern Congolese or Angolan matches yet, and it makes me want to resort my matches since it’s been four months or so since the last time I had it done. So far, my African matches outside West Africa have either been Cameroonian or southern African Bantu (Zambia, Zimbawe). On a sidenote, going back through my Nigerian matches, it seems that they are ALL from either Igboland or the southeastern border; I expected a bit more of a mix, but so far, no Yoruban matches.

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    • Can’t say I’ve ever heard of these names. But perhaps some one else reading this comment will jump in 😉
      Especially Angolan matches will be hard to get by I suspect because there aren’t that many Angolan migrants living in the US. I have however very recently added an Angolan person (Bakongo) to my survey and I intend to analyze her DNA matches across the Afro-Diaspora eventually. Probably next year though as I have too much on my plate right now haha.

      About those maps of the updated European regions you can see them in this Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piMWjJ2k-50

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      • Okay, I was finally able to get back in contact with my Cameroonian match. The reason I wasn’t find much information about the Balundo was because 1. The most common spelling of the group’s name is “Balondo” and sometimes “Balundu” and 2. They are a small group and thus haven’t attracted the scholarship from the outside that other larger groups have. 3. It seems that they may be a clan with the larger ethnic group called the Orokos, which is why it’s been hard to find specific things about them. Apparently, they were all originally Balondos, but during European colonization the Europeans – who more sharply defined ethnicity – split them up into different groups so that only a small group were still known as Balondos. To “correct” this splitting, it was slowly agreed to that they’d go under the umbrella over a shared word “Oroko” in the language that means “Welcome.”

        Some important things I found out given how ethnically that region of Cameroon is is that this is a Bantu group as opposed to the Semi-Bantu that live along the border of Nigeria and Cameroon. They are said to have come from the Congo thousands of years ago. Though obviously all Bantu originate in this region, they didn’t form as a group until they reached the Congo where they must have remained for thousands of years before back-migrating into Cameroon. The other interesting thing is that before they finally settled where they are, today (Ekondo-Titi commune), they actually sailed up the coast to the famous Calabra of Nigeria where they settled. Apparently, to this day, there is a group in Calabar who identify themselves as “Efut-Balondo.” Most, however, came back down the coast and settled in Ekondo-Titi where they remain to this day, ruled over traditionally.

        This kind of movement has really awakened me more so than I already was to the warning always given to be careful with the names of Ancestry regions. It’s now much easier to imagine, for instance, why someone with Nigerian heritage might get heavily weighted towards “Cameroon, Congo and Southern Bantu.” Because in the case of the Balondo, the are actually Bantu peoples living in southeast Nigeria that I had absolutely no idea about. And I imagine that many of them have been so assimilated or mixed that they may not even know they are of Bantu origin.

        Unfortunately, the Orokos seems to be caught in the middle of a deadly conflict between English-language seperatists and the French-speaking government. In fact, the Balondo chief was just murdered by seperatist last month. 😦

        Anyway, given the location of this group in both Calabar and the coast of Cameroon, it is very easy to imagine people from this region ending up shipped to North America. Calabar, as you know, was a MAJOR English slave port 1700 and 1800’s.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very fascinating info! Thanks for sharing! So true indeed that our knowledge of migrations within Africa is still very limited. Native African researchers should be encouraged to publish more on this topic. Although oral traditions may not always be 100% exact and sometimes may no longer exist even.

          Your match actually agreed to share profiles with me as well 🙂 I have included his results in this spreadsheet with 130 African AncestryDNA results. This is a screenshot of his results:

          He used to have 20% “Nigeria” which is not surprising given that the Oroko are very near the Nigerian border and also more coastal than the Bamileke etc. from northwest Cameroon who were most likely used as reference samples in the previous version.

          After the update however he is a resounding 100% “Cameroon, Congo, S. Bantu”, I highly suspect that Ancestry has added many more Cameroonian samples in their Reference Panel. Preparing a new blog post about this, so stay tuned!

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    • I’ve been trying to find Cameroon matches since my dna results are identical to an Igbo person. I’ve found about 5 Nigerians and all of them Igbo. 1 female from Ghana and 2 from Gambia/Senegal.
      One of my Igbo matches told me she is half ibibio and half Igbo. So I expected to find Cameroonian cousin matches.

      I’ll search the last name beseka and see if anything comes up for me.

      My most recent contact with an Igbo was very surprising. Given his Nigeria score was 93%.

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      • Fonte has said that Igbo he’s found don’t necessarily score more Cameroon/Congo than his Yoruban subjects. So simply having Igbo cousins doesn’t mean you’re going to find Cameroonian matches. It’s funny, because like me, you’re finding more Igbo cousins than any other group (I also had a half-Efik/half-Ibibio, but this seems to just be a fluke and doesn’t indicate Cameroonian ancestry. Of my Nigerian Igbo matches, while their first region is always Nigeria, their second region flips between Benin/Togo and Cameroon/Congo. It’ fact, it’s almost a 50/50 coin flip on whether the second region with be Benin/Togo or Cameroon/Congo.

        BTW, forgot that I have a Nigerian match – who hasn’t been on in two years – who I don’t yet have an ethnicity for. Her surname is “Nnoli.” Does anyone know whether this is an Igbo, Yoruba, or other group’s name?

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        • I’m not sure about Nnoli but I can google it.
          Yea I also have found cousin who is Igbo and his second region is Benin/Togo(18%).

          I’m finding a lot of cousins who are from Louisiana, and this Fonte points out that most slaves taken to Louisiana had high Senegambia roots also they are more likely to have genuine Benin/Togo heritage.
          I have 12% Mali and 12% IvoryCoast/Ghana so maybe those regions are tied to Louisiana.

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    • I will provide more details on how the “Nigeria” region is being reported for Nigerians themselves as soon as I know that the update is final and has been applied to all customers.

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  5. If Benin/Togo is predictive of Southern Nigerian and Ghanaian(in my case it’s nigerian), does that mean my 28% Benin/Togo is actually Nigerian. My previous Cameroon/Congo score is 14% and now it’s 52% Cameroon/Congo. Since Cameroon/Congo scores are consistently narrower, does that mean I’m more likely to be Efik/Cross River State.

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