DNA matches reported by 23andme for 75 Africans

Wishing to share the vibranium 😉 I have created a new page featuring the DNA matches reported by 23andme for 75 Africansall across the continent. These results were collected by me in 2015 when 23andme’s Countries of Ancestry (CoA) tool was still available.

My survey results might have limitations in several regards but I do believe these African CoA results can still reveal relevant tendencies in DNA matching. I intend to compare these preliminary matching patterns eventually with my more recent findings for Africans who tested on Ancestry. I provide detailed background info as well as screenshots of the individual results on this page:

(click to enlarge)

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Main Findings

Below I will provide an overview of the main findings I am able to pick up on from my survey results. This overview is just part of an exploratory exercise and not meant to be conclusive. Obviously my methodology & considerations I discuss in greater detaill on this page should also to be kept in mind!

  •  The largest degree of match strength is being obtained for West Africa, both Upper & Lower Guinea. This goes first of all for matches with the USA but also for matches with Latino’s and Caribbeans. A lesser and more variable degree of match strength (but still clearly detectable) is reported for Central & Southern Africa. While hardly any Afro-Diasporan matches were reported for my East African survey participants. This outcome seems to align well with both historically documented and genetically confirmed origins for the Trans-Atlantic Afro-Diaspora. These ancestral origins being principally from West Africa & Central Africa and to a much smaller degree also from Southeast Africa. For more details see:
  • The number of 10cM+ matches was rather high. And mostly confirming the matching patterns when set at 7cM. Perhaps tellingly not a single match of 10cM+ was reported for my East African survey participantsAt least no matches with Afro-Diasporans. The least number of matches of any size and from anywhere was being reported for my survey participants from South Sudan (0x) and Uganda (1x).
  • In regards to the match strength with the USA the three top ranking countries are Guinea (Fula), Madagascar and Nigeria (Igbo). Especially one Fula person from Guinea as well as two Malagasy survey participants received an amazing number of USA matches. Often also with a large shared segment size. Their minor European admixture might be a factor (see considerations). But I suspect not decisively so as the shared segments I was able to verify myself were either African or Asian in chromosome view.  For the Fula person it may also very well just represent mislabeled North African DNA. My Igbo survey participants also received many USA matches, strikingly more so than Nigerians of other ethnic background in my survey.
  • Even if caution is warranted, this outcome seems to already indicate widespread dispersal of Fula, Malagasy and Igbo lineage within the African American genepool. Which would be perfectly plausible also from a historical perspective. However I strongly suspect that the frequency of DNA matches from a certain place/ethnic group may not always correlate with autosomal contribution, proportionally speaking. In other words just because my Fula and Malagasy survey participants seem to be extra “matchy” with African Americans does not right away imply that the Fula & the Malagasy represent the biggest ancestral components for African Americans (to be verified by admixture analysis). For the Igbo such a case could arguably already be made. Based on both historical and genetic evidence. But especially for the Malagasy a more subdued & diluted overall ancestral share is to be expected (even if still significant and clearly detectable). Certainly lower than for example the Congolese or Angolan input in the average African breakdown for African Americans. See also:
  • Intra-African matches were reported quite frequently for most of my African survey participants. Even when the number of Africans in CoA’s database must have been very small in 2015! This includes matches from the same African country, matches from neighbouring African countries and in a few cases matches from unexpected countries in other parts of Africa, geographically far removed. When set at 5cM these presumably population matches become even more apparent. This outcome may hold some far-reaching implications. Afterall if a Kenyan is able to get a Zimbabwean match seemingly due to the genetic legacy of the Bantu Expansion from many centuries or even several millennia ago might then also likewise African Americans receive Kenyan matches due to shared Bantu origins from Central Africa (Angola/Congo)? In a recently published research paper it was revealed that Angolans were having IBD matches with people from South Africa and also from Kenya/Uganda!
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7 thoughts on “DNA matches reported by 23andme for 75 Africans

  1. Sadly no matter how often i check, 23andme has been 0% helpful for me when it comes to finding african matches, Literally all my matches are United states and canada and maybe abit of carribean matches. 23andme has no problem matching me with european’s and other AA’s.

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  2. Very Nice! I can verify that the European that the fulani’s have is not real. Back in the day on COA I could not find a single full european match that matched in any of these “euro” segments, while I found some highly euro relatives they all had 0.5 – 2% west-african admixture. Its gotta be north-african bleedover.

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    • Yeah, I think so too, it’s pretty standard for Fula people to get such scores and this particular guy on 23andme also isn’t aware of any distant European lineage. I have had an intriguing discussion about this topic with a very knowledgeable Fula friend of mine who tested with Ancestry. He scored 3% “Iberian Peninsula” and <1% "Europe South”, similar to other Fula results I've seen. And most likely just North African (like) DNA which is being mislabeled, just like on 23andme.

      I will post an overview of his DNA matches eventually but I can already say that out of his 6,305 DNA matches in total, I was able to filter out only 25 matches without any African regions in their profile while only a few also did not show any "Africa North" or "Middle East". Quite astonishing in itself but some of these matches may yet turn out to be false positives or glitches due to incomplete display or perhaps they still do have diluted African admixture but Ancestry wasn't able to detect it. I believe if his European scores had been legit he would have gotten a far greater number of European American matches. For a Liberian with some Krio lineage and only <1% European admix on Ancestry I found over 500 European-American matches with no African regions at all, out of a total of 3,372 DNA matches!

      Still in selected cases I do think that some Fula people could have genuine European lineage. I've actually asked my Fula friend about this as well. I first said:

      "I am wondering if perhaps in their dealings with mixed-race (Euro-African) trader communities living along the coasts of Guinea and Sierra Leone the Fula might not also have been "given" any of these mixed-race traders daughters as wives to cement their mutual trading relations if you like. These mixed-race traders have been documented from early on. In regards with the Portuguese and Cape Verde they were often known as Lançados or Tangamaos. But in the 1700's they were also joined by the Euro-African offspring of American and British traders, along the Rio Pongo and Rio Nunez. These mixed-race Anglo families are well documented and are described especially in the work of George E. Brooks (1993, 2003, 2010).&;

      Upon which he replied:

      " You are absolutely right, when you describe how marriages/alliances used to cement relationships between different communities. This is precisely how my father explained it to me. If we consider the fact that more importance was given to the paternal lineage than to the one of the maternal side, the circumstances were sort of reunited for these alliances to become realities. I had heard of the Creole from Sierra Leone and communities of returnees from the Afro-Diaspora in West Africa. It seems that they also had privileged relationships as traders and intermediate business "partners" with Europeans at some point. I have wondered if in one of my ancestral lines, individuals may have been integrated"

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  3. Yes , I have looked at ancestor birthplaces,98% of them are all European countries. The other two percent is from the islands,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the Bakongo person from DRC Congo had many shared DNA segments with persons from the US, also at the 10cM threshold! Here are her full results set at 10cM, and 5cM.

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