Update of 23andme’s African breakdown

After a long delay of any meaningful improvements 23andme has actually implemented several updates in the last two years. Often beneficial for Tracing African Roots! Starting with the introduction of a new African regional framework in 2018. In 2019 new reference samples were added for especially North Africa. While also the potentially very useful Recent Ancestor Locations feature has been greatly expanded. In this year 23andme has decided to upgrade their customized algorithm. Unlike the 2019 update this upgrade is poised to have a considerable impact on 23andme’s African breakdown. 

Not per se in a positive way though. As it seems that 23andme’s algorithm tends to be “over-smoothing”. That is to say it will tend to homogenize people’s DNA in just a few categories.1 As always one needs to refrain from being overly dismissive in order to also capitalize on any positive aspects. From what I have seen sofar this update does seem to be an improvement for many Afro-descendants, at least on balance. Of course I would need to see more updated results for a more substantiated judgement. For more details read:

Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

General trends of changes after 23andme’s update. According to 23andme (see this link).  The decrease in “unassigned” and most of the “broadly” categories is certainly observable. And especially within the European breakdown this will often be an improvement for Hispanics and African Americans. From what I have seen sofar actually an increase of “Nigerian” is not always happening for African Americans, or only marginally so. Also “Broadly West African” does not seem to change that much. But in particular “Angolan & Congolese” might often show a considerable increase. Often it seems at the expense of “Broadly Sub-Saharan African”.

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Either way it seems that this upgrade is likely to be rolled out to everyone and not just so-called V-5 customers. That is to say regardless of when you tested 23andme is aiming to eventually update your results using their new algorithm. At the latest early next year, 2021. Initially there was some confusion on whether “old” customers of 23andme (genotyped on the v1-v4 chips) would also receive this update. However quite recently 23andme’s customer service made this clarifying statement on 23andme’s forum:

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In October of this year, we completed testing and validating the updated algorithm for the latest genotyping platform (v5) and decided to release this update to v5 customers while continuing to work on testing and validating the updated algorithm for previous genotyping platforms (v1 through v4). These processes are independent: the set of variants tested on the v5 genotyping chip is different from the set tested on prior chips. This means that updates for customers on current and previous chips require independent research, testing, and validation. While we cannot guarantee that the new algorithm will pass quality control checks when applied to earlier genotyping platforms, we hope to provide this update to pre-v5 customers by early next year“. (source, or see also this screenshot for complete statement)

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For the sake of correct interpretation of 23andme’s African breakdown I performed a comprehensive survey among African 23andme testers from all over the continent in 2019. This survey (based on 23andme’s 2018/2019 version) was ongoing up till now. At this point my African 23andme survey includes 314 people from 36 countries! By looking into their group averages you can get a pretty good idea on how well 23andme is able to describe the African origins of people who are already aware of their specific African lineage. Because I have been able to expand my survey I can now comment in greater detail about the predictive accuracy of 23andme’s African breakdown (2018/2019 version). Beyond what I had already established in 2019.2 In the remaining part of this blog post I will discuss the following:

  1. African surveyfindings (2018-2019 version)
    • “Nigerian” also partially describes Ewe lineage from Ghana 
    • “Angolan & Congolese” is not always fully covering Central African DNA 
    • “Sudanese” is also being reported for Sahellian West Africans, incl. Tuareg
  2. Screenshots before & after 2019 update (Africans & Afro-descendants)
  3. Screenshots before & after 2020 update (Africans & Afro-descendants)

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1) African surveyfindings (2018-2019 version) 

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Table 1 (click to enlarge)

This table contains my main survey findings: the group averages for 314 people from 36 countries. It illustrates how 23andme’s African breakdown (2018/2019 version) is performing for people of known background. Click on this link for an expanded & up-to-date version of this table. Also including group averages for “Broadly West African”, “Broadly Congolese & Southern East African” and “Broadly Northern East African”. These scores have been left out of this overview because of lack of space.

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My main survey findings featured above include 314 African 23andme results from at least 36 countries.3 Compared with my earlier survey findings in 2019 (n=174) this represents a considerable increase in sample size (+140) and scope. Which is why I am now more confident about the main patterns I already discussed in my previous review. In particular my Cape Verdean survey findings (n=100) are quite robust and yet again confirming the overwhelmingly Upper Guinean roots for Cape Verdeans!  I was also able to expand my Nigerian survey group as well as my Ghanaian survey group. Also for the first time including Ewe samples! Ethnic groups for both countries being highlighted in blue in the overview above.

Obviously these findings are not intended to reflect any fictional national or ethnic averages! The main purpose of this overview is to give an approximate idea of what to expect when wondering about how 23andme’s 2018/2019 version described the results of their African customers. I will not repeat what has already been discussed in my 2019 review. However I will highlight a few new additions in my survey which I find to be very insightful. In particular also in relation with the implications they may have for the results of Afro-Diasporans. For more details & previous discussion:

For screenshots of the individual results and even more detailed discussion see also:

 

“Nigerian” also partially describes Ewe lineage from Ghana

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This 41% “Nigerian” score shown above is the highest I have seen sofar for Ghanaians. It comes as no surprise that going by surname this person is most likely Ewe from eastern Ghana. It mirrors the even higher (>50%) “Nigeria” scores I have seen reported for persons from Benin and Togo. As already established in my Ancestry survey the genetic overlap between eastern Ghanaians (esp. Ewe), Togolese, Beninese as well as southern Nigerians can cause major confusion when people are not aware of it. I highly suspect this is also a major factor why “Nigerian” scores for African Americans & West Indians often seem overstated.

There are several things to keep in mind though which do help to explain this outcome more or less. Especially when wanting to compare with how Ancestry reports their “Nigeria” scores. First of all it is crucial to realize that even when similarly labeled, ancestral categories on different DNA tests will not be perfect equivalents or measuring the same thing. Basically this is due to differences in reference samples as well as in algorithm applied by each separate DNA test.

Either way the labeling of regional admixture categories is never to be taken too literally. Instead of fussing about it or being overly dismissive understand that this country labeling is merely intended as an approximate proxy. Which can still be helpful if you also take into account the relevant context such as: neighbouring countries; macro-regions (see this map); the known migrations of ethnic groups; pre-colonial history etc., etc…4

Furthermore it should be remembered that 23andme only has 3 West African regions while Ancestry has 5 West African regions. Especially “Benin/Togo” is greatly missing in the equation. Again it is essential to be aware that so-called “Nigerian” on 23andme is also including genetic connections with Gbe speakers (incl. the Fon from Benin but also the Ewe from Ghana/Togo). In many cases the combined shares of “Benin/Togo” and “Nigeria” on Ancestry will already make for a good approximation of one’s “Nigerian” score on 23andme. See also:

 

“Angolan & Congolese” not always fully covering Central African DNA

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Very useful to see this overview for a Gabonese person as it demonstrates the minor but still considerable overlap between West African and Central African genetics. In particular the 15.2% “Nigeria” score as well as the 4.8% “Broadly West African” score are underlining this overlap. Naturally not to be taken at face value! But rather a consequence of genetic similarity and/or missing reference samples from western parts of Central Africa. Resulting in a gradient of “Nigerian” scores which will show up for Central African people in double digit amounts even in a few cases. Always smaller than 20% though, atleast from my survey findings. While lower amounts of around 5% “Nigerian” will still be seen also further south in places like Zimbabwe. This appearance of “Nigerian” scores is even more apparent for Cameroonians, who are arguably intermediate between West & Central Africa. Understandably so with Nigeria being a neighbouring country and also given the lack of Cameroonian samples in 23andme’s reference database (unlike Ancestry!).

On the other hand it remains important to note that “Congolese & Southern East African” is still predominant (72.4%) for this person. So there is still a great deal of informational value to be obtained when you keep all of this in mind! Aside from the 63.3% “Angolan & Congolese” score which is admittedly rather subdued. Also to be taken into account are the “Southern East African” and “Broadly Congolese & Southern East African” scores to arrive at an indication of this person’s overall Central African genetic imprint. In fact among my 9 Angolan and Congolese survey participants the group average for this proxy of Central African DNA was still quite convincing: 86.1%. While the group average for their combined West African scores was only 10%. The remaining part going into “Broadly Sub-Saharan African”. See also columns E & I in my online survey spreadsheet:

 

“Sudanese” is also being reported for Sahellian West Africans

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Fascinating results shown above for a Tuareg person! This ethnic group is famous for its nomadic lifestyle in the western Sahara/Sahel. They have a widespread territory, but mostly confined to Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger (see this map). Given that they are a Berber group it is not surprising that “North Africa” is showing up as a primary component. However otherwise it is mostly “Sudanese” which is being reported. Such Northeast African connections might be counter-intuitive perhaps for some people. But given the ancient east-west and vice-versa migrations across the Sahel corridor it might still make sense.

As I already established in my previous 2019 review the “Sudanese” category is very predictive of recent Sudanese origins. But in addition it can also pick up on Nilotic(-like) lineage among a selected group of people in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. Furthermore minor but still substantial amounts of “Sudanese” (<5%) have also been appearing in other parts of Africa. In particular for Sahelian West Africans. See for example the 2.2% “Sudanese” group average for my 3 Hausa-Fulani survey participants in table 1. Given ancient migrations of both Nilo-Saharan (such as the Songhay) and Chadic speakers quite understandable. But still good to be aware that these genetic components have been native to West Africa for centuries or even millennia already. This outcome also has implications for Atlantic Afro-descendants wondering about tiny (~1%) but still distinctive “Sudanese” scores. If indeed genuine there will be a high likelihood it is inherited by way of western Sahelian people, such as the Tuareg but probably even more so the Fula or Hausa-Fulani etc..

 

2) Screenshots before & after 2019 update

The 2018 & 2019 versions were quite similar or even nearly identical for most Africans. Notable exception being North Africans as well as people with significant amounts of North African admixture, such as my Fula survey participants. Because basically speaking the main difference between the 2018 & 2019 versions is mostly caused by the addition of North African samples. Leaving aside the superficial (but still useful!) changes being made in display (subgrouping of macro-regional categories such as West Africa; Central & South Eastern Africa etc.); the renaming of the “Angolan & Congolese” category as well as continued expansion of the Recent Ancestral Location feature. See also:

However I greatly suspect that 23andme has also done some quality pruning of African reference samples in 2019. Because the total number of African samples (excl. North Africa) in October 2018 seems to have been 2165. But in October 2019 this number decreased to 1980! I have not found any explanation about this on 23andme’s website. Transparancy about the reference samples being used by DNA testing companies still tends to be less than needed for optimal understanding by their customers… Although unconfirmed I do also have reason to believe that 23andme might have removed any Fula samples from Guinea Conakry which were included in the 2018 version. I find it remarkable for example that my Fula survey participants no longer received “Guinea” as Recent Ancestor Location after the 2019 update. For more details see:

For Afro-Diasporans it is a more mixed outcome. Again little to no changes for African Americans and West Indians for the greater part. That is when restricted to the African breakdown only. However for Cape Verdeans and Latin Americans the addition of North African samples did often lead to some changes. Especially in their “Senegambian & Guinean” scores, as well as “North African”.  Also their “Unassigned” scores increased. Which is why I discontinued my surveys for these latter groups already in 2019.

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GUINEA CONAKRY (Fula)

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The changes are actually not that drastic but do notice that “Senegambian & Guinean” has decreased while “North African” has increased with about 2%. Most likely still a underestimation of this person’s true degree of North African DNA. The minor South European score is merely a misreading of actual North African DNA btw, due to genetic overlap. Notice also how the Recent Ancestor Location of Guinea has disappeared after the 2019 update. I have observed this also for a few other Fula persons from Guinea. I have a hunch it is because 23andme decided to remove any Fula customer samples from their Reference database in 2019. Probably for the best indeed.

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CAPE VERDE (Santo Antão & Santiago)

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A minor but still uncalled-for decrease in “Senegambian & Guinean”. Also a higher “unassigned” score. But the increase in “North Africa” is actually an improvement. Most likely mirroring the changes in these categories seen also for Fula persons. The recent Ancestral Location of Brava is actually incorrect because this person’s family hails from other islands. This outcome (seen for almost all Cape Verdeans regardless of actual island origins!) is to be explained rather by 23andme’s reference database being skewed towards American- Cape Verdeans with Brava island origins (due to historical migration patterns). Until this situation is remedied a more meaningful subdivision might be to only indicate either Barlavento or Sotavento island origins. Still to be applauded that 23andme is now pinpointing Cape Verde below “Senegambian & Guinean” rather than under “Broadly West African”. As advised by myself during my 2019  review.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (Virginia/West Virginia)

***(click to enlarge)

Nearly identical breakdowns! At most changes of less than 1%, which is of course neglible given that 23andme does not give ranges for their estimates. Do notice how the arrangement according to macro-regions (West African; Congolese & Southern East African;  Northwestern Europe; Southern Europe; etc.) after the 2019 update looks much more organized and informational, than when sorted from highest to lowest score. Especially when contrasted with the frankly sloppy looking display on Ancestry which does not even have a continental breakdown!

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (South Carolina/North Carolina)

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Again hardly any changes, except marginal ones. Unlike for other parts of the world 23andme still does not provide Recent Ancestral Locations for within the USA. Such information could in fact be very useful for African Americans to determine their earliest state origins and then correlate with known localized slave trade patterns. Similar to what Ancestry does with their Genetic Community tool.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (Louisiana)

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Unlike what I have seen for other African Americans this 2019 update did result in 1 major change. Notice the increase in “Angolan & Congolese”! Nearly 10%. Practically a doubling! It seems to have been coming mostly from previous scores for “Broadly Congolese & Southern East African” and “Broadly Sub-Saharan”. In fact after the 2020 update this trend seems to be valid for many other people too! I have seen the AncestryDNA results as well as African DNA matches for this person as well. And this increase in Central African DNA is quite likely to be an improvement indeed.

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BRAZIL (Minas Gerais)

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Very few differences before and after the update. For other Brazilians with lower amounts of total African ancestry however often there were more noticeable changes. In particular an increase of “North African” and at times also “Unassigned”. From what I can tell the name change of “Congolese” into “Angolan & Congolese” did not involve any substantial change of underlying reference samples. Although this country labeling is still inadequate given the Brazilian context it is quite appropriate to explicitly mention Angola!

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JAMAICA 

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Yet again quite consistent for both versions. Do notice however the impressive specification of the Recent Ancestral Locations! For other Jamaican results I have actually at times also seen an African ancestral location. Certainly an expansion of such specification would be of immense significance for many Afro-descended 23andme customers!

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HAITI 

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Practically unchanged, safe for minor variations. Do notice the Recent Ancestral Location mentioning Northern Haiti. Which aligns quite well with the increased level of Central African DNA!

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 

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Not that many changes actually except for the increase in “Unassigned” and “West Asian & North African”. For other Dominicans, with lesser amounts of total African admixture, the changes can be somewhat greater though. Again very useful that 23andme is able to zoom into province level with their Recent Ancestral Location feature.

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3) Screenshots before & after 2020 update

I have only seen a few results which reflect the 2020 update. I will not comment too much therefore. In future blog posts I may elaborate more. For now I will just repeat these statements from my previous 2019 review:

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Regional admixture DOES matter! Given correct interpretation it can be very useful indeed in many cases”

Labeling of ancestral categories should not be taken too literally. Rather regard them as proxies.”

“Minimal trace regions are often least informative […] Unless you have additional clues and corroborating evidence it will usually not be worth your time to investigate any further. Which is not say that small regional amounts are per definition without informational value! However time spent in backing up your primary regional scores (associated African DNA matches, historical context, genealogy etc.) might often deliver greater and more reliable results.”

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SENEGAL (Wolof?)

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The predictive accuracy of “Senegambian & Guinean” was already quite strong but it seems it has even improved with this 2020 update. A nearly 100% “Senegambian & Guinean” result for a possibly Wolof person of course makes perfect sense. When only looking at recent origins. It is also still interesting that the trace regions look much more plausible now. The most likely noise result of 0.1% “East Asian & Native American” disappearing while minor but still detectable “North African” has remained.

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IVORY COAST (7/8 Akan, 1/8 Krio)

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A remarkable homogenization has taken place.  A nearly 100% result which I have seen for several other updated African results as well (esp. Nigerians). However this person is in fact not 100% Ivorian Akan! A minor but still significant part of her family origins is Krio (Sierra Leone/Gambia). And previously this was also indicated (by proxy) through her “Nigerian” score. This part is now however completely smoothed out. Possibly also a consequence of this person having been included as an customer sample into 23andme’s Reference Database? Causing an overfitting or calculator effect whereby you are basically just matched to your own DNA.

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NIGERIA (Efik)

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I don’t have the pre-update results for this person but generally speaking 23andme was already quite accurate when describing the origins of southern Nigerians. Scores of around 90% “Nigerian being common, see also table 1. However there was also a subtle but still noticeable distinction whereby you could clearly see whether a breakdown was likely to be either southwestern Nigerian or southeastern Nigerian. Indicated by secondary regions tending towards either “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” or “Angolan & Congolese”. Due to nearly 100% smoothing this useful distinction is now no longer to be seen. Hopefully 23andme will soon expand their Recent Ancestral Location feature to also incorporate the less common state origins of the Efik in southeastern Nigeria.

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CAMEROON (Northwest: Bafut)

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Given that 23andme does not have any Cameroonian samples within its Reference dataset it is to be expected that Cameroonians will be described as a mix of “Nigerian” and “Angolan & Congolese”. Afterall this correponds with their geographic location as well as Bantu migrations originating within the Cameroon/Nigeria borderland. Do notice that 23andme is able to correctly assign Cameroon as a Recent Ancestral Location though! Arguably the most important takeaway from this comparison is the steep increase in “Angolan & Congolese” score. More than 20%! While “Broadly West African” and especially “Broadly Sub-Saharan African” are on the decline. And “Nigerian” stays about the same. From what I have seen reported for other people as well I am inclined to think that this signals a considerable improvement of predictive accuracy of Central African DNA. Both for Africans and Afro-descendants!

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ZIMBABWE 

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A minor but still clear shift towards “Southern East African” at the expense of “Angolan & Congolese”. I suppose this could be seen as an indication of greater delineation between this two genetically overlapping regions which both may describe origins from Bantu speaking Africa. But of course “Southern East African” being more focused on Southern and East Africa. Some minor West African scores are still maintained though. Reflecting ancient shared origins due to Bantu migrations departing from the Nigeria/Cameroon borderlands. The European/North African trace regions are a bit puzzling and rather uncommon for Zimbabweans from what I have seen. But given that it is maintained even despite the homogenizing tendency of 23andme’s upgraded algorithm it could possibly still be pinpointing something distinctive.

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TUTSI (Rwanda & Burundi)

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Tutsi genetics are quite complex. Small wonder therefore that 23andme still has some difficulty maintaining consistency. Especially the scores for “Sudanese” , “Ethiopian & Eritrean'” as well as tellingly “Broadly Northern East African” show great variation. However do notice that the macro-regional breakdown is more stable. A slight increase for “Central African” DNA can still be observed. But the predominant share of  “Northeast African”  still remains very distinctive.

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MOROCCO 

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Clearly demonstrating how  23andme’s has greatly improved its detection of North African DNA. At least for North Africans themselves. The confusing genetic overlap with Southwest Europe (Iberia) is almost no longer occuring. Also the Recent Ancestral Locations have become even more specific! Still I suspect that such homogenized results may still conceal minor admixture which is consistently present on a population level. For example any Sub-Saharan African DNA.

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CAPE VERDEAN (Santo Antão)

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Senegambian & Guinean” is boosted with almost 10%. When calculating the relative proportion of this signature region for Cape Verdeans it is over 90%  (=62.5/68.2) of the total African breakdown! Once again confirming the overwhelmingly Upper Guinean roots of Cape Verdeans. Notice also how the European breakdown is being homogenized to almost exclusively reflect Portuguese ancestry. For many Cape Verdeans this would be correct although actually it is known that in some cases also other types of European ancestry could be significant according to paper trail. Will be interesting to see if 23andme picks up on it or rather skips over it.

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CAPE VERDEAN (Santiago)

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Pretty much the same outcome as the results above. Even higher scaled score for “Senegambian & Guinean” in fact: 95% (=73.6/76.8). A rise in “North African” of around 2% as well.  Notice also how especially “Broadly West African” has declined. But also “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” has now completely disappeared. This was practically always a minor but still secondary region for Cape Verdeans in the 2018/2019 version. And Cape Verdeans are in fact likely to have genuine Sierra Leonean ancestry. Especially Temne lineage from northern Sierra Leone. See also this link.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (South Carolina)

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In line with what 23andme has said about the main trends for African Americans this overview shows a small but still clear increase in “Nigerian”. However do notice also that the “Broadly West African” score has remained practically the same. And is still pretty high! Only “Broadly Sub-Saharan African” is on the decrease. I suspect mostly fueling the increase in “Angolan & Congolese” as I have seen this for other people as well. Also intriguing that this person has a new 0.8% “Greek & Balkan” score. Generally speaking such minimal trace scores are likely to be within the “noise” range. But this appearance despite a homogenizing tendency of the upgraded algorithm actually provides more reliability. And in fact as I have seen the matches of this person it is very likely to be genuine because he has a multitude of Gypsy and/or Balkan DNA matches on both 23andme and Ancestry!

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (Alabama)

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An increase in “Broadly West African”! While “Nigerian” has actually pretty much remained the same. Otherwise small changes in the African breakdown. However the European breakdown has been throroughly homogenized to only reflect British & Irish ancestry. In most cases this should be correct I suppose for African Americans.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (North Carolina)

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These updated results clearly go against the trend. At least the one identified by 23andme (see fig.1). As I have seen this for several other people as well it makes me doubtful if “Nigerian” will indeed be increasing for most African Americans after the update. In this particular case we can see that “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” shows the greatest increase.  While the “Nigerian” score is actually being reduced with around 2%. Intringuingly  “Angolan & Congolese” is surfacing as primary region. In the 2018/2019 version I did not see this happening even once in my survey of 200 African American results. However with this 2020 update it seems it might be more frequent. Indicative of a greater predictive accuracy of Central African DNA. Which would be in line with historical plausibility.

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DOMINICAN

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Quite diverse and regionally evened out African breakdown. Maintained also after the update. The 3 West African regions remaining consistent. However a notable rise in “Angolan & Congolese” can be seen of around 6%. I have seen this for several other Afro-Diasporans actually. And I am inclined to think it represents a general trend of improved detection of Central African DNA. Mostly at the expense of “Broadly Sub-Saharan African” it seems. But “Broadly West African” is actually increasing! So still some ground to cover by 23andme. Hopefully in a next update they will add a new category for the interior of West Africa (Mali/Burkina Faso/Niger). But I am glad that 23andme’s homogenizing algorithm is not bystepping the general rule of  “don’t be more specific than your underlying data allows for”. The drastic increase in “Spanish & Portuguese” on the other hand certainly seems historically warranted for most Dominicans. And in line with the trends identified by 23andme for Hispanics.

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Notes

1) This homogenizing or “oversmoothing” effect will often work out fine for people with just one single ethnic background or with multiple yet still distinctive/non-overlapping origins. Leading to nearly 100% “X” results whenever your “X” origins are well covered by 23andme’s reference database. Similar to the situation for many African DNA testers on Ancestry (see section 4 of this blogpost). But for other people with a more complex/mixed background this upgraded algorithm may sometimes skip over minor parts of their DNA. Or also just completely miss the mark by assigning a major part of their DNA to an unexpected ancestral category. Even when other more suitable categories are available. To be fair I am not sure yet how common such obviously distorted results would be. Also such outcomes do usually still making sense when applying a macro-regional perspective or applying additional reasoning based on population genetics.

2) My survey of African 23andme results is almost entirely consisting of results which were obtained after the 2018 update (Ancestry Composition v3.0 & v5.0). In 2019 23andme expanded their reference datasets with South Asian, West Asian and most importantly North African samples. At first this prompted me to stop my survey because ideally you would want to only collect DNA results produced on the same footing. In order to avoid comparing apples and oranges so to speak. However it actually turns out that this 2019 update (Ancestry Composition v5.2) produced only very slight and marginal changes for most of my African survey participants. Nothing profoundly different at all. The main trends identified in my earlier review pretty much remain unchanged. And even at times these main trends are better defined after also looking into results which were updated in 2019.

Therefore in the interest of greater understanding I have decided to include a small number of African 23andme results which reflect the 2019 update rather than the 2018 version. Actually in some cases I might not also have been completely aware of which version my survey participants were tested with. Again I do not think that this impacts my survey findings overall speaking. As the 2018 & 2019 versions were greatly similar or even nearly identical for most people. Notable exception being first of all of course North Africans as well as people with significant amounts of North African admixture, such as my Fula survey participants. I have been extra careful not to include their updated results (2019) therefore.  

For Afro-Diasporans it is a more mixed outcome. Again little to no changes for African Americans and West Indians for the greater part. However for Cape Verdeans and Latin Americans the addition of North African samples did often lead to considerable changes. Which is why I discontinued the surveys I had set up for these groups already in 2019. Of course I am pleased that 23andme has been focusing on continued improvement in the last two years. However I have to say that for survey purposes all these changes being processed consecutively within a short timeframe instead of one single big update are a bit troublesome to keep track off. Not to say a nuisance 😉 I suspect that also among the average 23andme customer some degree of update fatigue might have taken place. Then again I certainly appreciate how 23andme is making this update available for all of its customers! See also:

 3) Most African 23andme results included in my survey have been shared with me by the DNA testers themselves. Some results were kindly shared with me by friends from their DNA Relatives list. Some of the new additions were also collected by me from social media. Naturally I verified the background of each sample to the best of my capabilities but I did not have absolute certainty in all cases. I like to thank all my African survey participants for having tested on 23andme and sharing their results so that it may benefit other people as well!

4) Several valid objections can be made about the country name labeling being applied on both Ancestry and 23andme. But the truth is that the labeling of ancestral categories will always be tricky and a trade-off! Ancestral categories referring to ethnic groups might be just as deceptive or even more so! As many people will again tend to take them too literally. Underestimating not only the sheer number of ethnic groups existing in Africa (thousands!) but also the complexity of interplay between fluid ethnicity, overlapping genetics and shifting political borders. The same goes for precolonial African kingdoms which again were not static entities. But instead very often ended up being multi-ethnic after expansion and assimilation of neighbouring peoples.

I do agree that more appropriate labels than the present ones can be conceived of. Also knowledgeable scholars in African & Afro-Diasporan history should be involved to redo the regional descriptions so that people will more immediately be aware of the ancestral connections being implied. An intermediate solution might be ancestral regions which are referring to either non-political geography or meta-ethnic/linguistic groups. Such as Atlantic, Mande, Kru, Akan, Gbe etc. (see this page). But I fear that inherently there will always be some degree of blurriness involved and exact delineation might be impossible to achieve in many cases. Instead of generating false hope it might be a more honest approach to go by the motto of “don’t be more specific than your data supports”.

Understandably many people desire to have the most specific degree of resolution when searching for their African roots. They want to be able to pinpoint their exact ethnic origins and preferably also know the exact location of their ancestral village. In a way following in the footsteps of the still very influential ROOTS author Alex Haley. Unfortunately these are rather unrealistic expectations to have in regards to DNA testing (at least in regards to admixture analysis.). Not only given current scientific possibilities. But also because such expectations rest on widely spread misconceptions about ethnicity, genetics, genealogy as well as Afro-Diasporan history.

Too often people ignore how the melting pot concept is really nothing new but has always existed! Also in Africa where inter-ethnic mixing has usually been frequent! Throughout (pre) history and maybe even more so in the last 50 years or so. Generally speaking ethnicity is a fluid concept which is constantly being redefined across time and place.

Too often people fail to take into consideration how due to genetic recombination our DNA will never be a perfect reflection of our family tree but might actually also at times suggest very ancient migrations.

Too often people underestimate the actual number of relocated African-born ancestors they might have (dozens or even hundreds!). As well as the inevitable ethnic blending which must have taken place across the generations.

Too often people are still not informing themselves properly about Africa itself and the documented origins of the Afro-Diaspora. Many specific details may have been lost forever but there is a wealth of solid and unbiased sources available which can help you see both the greater picture as well as zoom in more closely to your own relevant context. See also:

 

32 thoughts on “Update of 23andme’s African breakdown

  1. Ewe people

    WRITTEN BY
    The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

    Ewe, peoples living in southeastern Ghana, southern Benin, and the southern half of Togo who speak various dialects of Ewe, a language of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo family. Ewe unity is based on language and common traditions of origin: their original homeland is traced to Oyo, in western Nigeria, which was a major Yoruba kingdom.”

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    • Exactly! Country labeling such “Nigerian” can sometimes be confusing and misleading when taken as gospel. However with additional reasoning it does usually make sense. You do need to be aware of these types of historical migrations though!

      This particular migration history of the Ewe and other Gbe speaking people (Fon, Aja etc.) and their close genetic similarity with southern Nigerians also caused a major issue for many people when wanting to make sense of their “Benin/Togo” scores. For greater understanding and more details scroll to section “AncestryDNA regions correlating with language?” on this page.

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  2. apparently the ga-adangme also claim to have migrated from nigeria.

    The Ga-Adangme migrated from Ile-Ife in south-western Nigeria led by powerful king Ayi-Kushi. In the 17th century, when they settled at Okaikoi near Nsawam, the Adangbe built the Ladoku kingdom. Under their great leader King Ayi Kushi (Cush) (1483-1519) they were led from the east in several states before reaching their destination in Accra. The Ga-Adangme migrated from Ile-Ife in south-western Nigeria led by powerful king Ayi-Kushi. In the 17th century, when they settled at Okaikoi near Nsawam, the Adangbe built the Ladoku kingdom. Under their great leader King Ayi Kushi (Cush) (1483-1519) they were led from the east in several states before reaching their destination in Accra.”

    i doubt the biblical cush part.

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    • Indeed. They also show a considerable share of “Nigerian” on 23andme from what i’ve seen. But somewhat less than Ewe. Than again also several Akan results I ‘ve seen show double digit scores for “Nigerian” as well! Perhaps peaking among Fante. Their overall group average for “Nigerian ” being 15%. While for Ga-Adangbe it was 25% and for my Ewe survey participants around 35%. So clearly a declining gradient as you go deeper into Ghana.

      So it’s not per se an indication of genuine Nigerian origins. Also the Ewe and Ga-Adangbe are by no means to be seen as “Nigerian transplants”. As undoubtedly across generations they would have intermingled and perhaps also absorbed local groups of people who were already living in eastern Ghana. However these known historical migrations certainly do add more context. And most likely there are even more ancient migrations which occurred but are no longer remembered in oral tradions. Possibly to be related to the spread of agriculture (Yam cultivation). As I also describe in greater detail on that page I referred to earlier.

      i doubt the biblical cush part.

      I am quite sure it is a modern day fabrication. Intended to attach more prestige to one’s origins. I’ve seen similar fabrications for the Ewe and several other West African people. I find it quite a sad affair really. Of course “prestige” is in the eyes of the beholder. Previously historical kingdoms located within presentday Mali and Nigeria were considered the “cool” places to hail from. But European derived values and evangelization must have resulted in the current obsession for Northeast Africa among some seriously misled people…

      As I’ve said before:

      Unfortunately this highly fascinating topic of early West African (pre-)history is often absent or poorly represented in the curricula of primary and secondary education. Furthermore both scholars and laymen tend to pay more attention to other areas of Africa. In particular North/East Africa because of early human evolution or Ancient Egypt as well as Central/Southern Africa in regards to the Bantu expansion. Regrettably this relative neglect of West African orientated research has lead to a severe lack of basic knowledge among the general public. Leaving them vulnerable to serious misinterpretation and even at risk of being misled by agenda-driven fringe movements.

      It is a true shame that West African (pre-)history too often is forcibly linked to other faraway places simply for prestige reasons or misguided ideology. This is not to deny that West Africa has indeed been in long standing mutual contact with neighbouring parts of Africa. And these connections are certainly also research-worthy. Then again so much insight is to be gained when you consider West Africa to be a regional unit within its own right and on its own terms. With its own independent historical driving forces centered principally in modern-day Mali and modern-day Nigeria along the Niger river valley, the true bearer of civilization for West Africa in so many ways.”

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  3. hey! just got my 23andme results. they correctly predicted. my first cousin, with whom I share paternal grandparents, only strangely his paternal haplogroup is E-M54 while mine is E-M85. are fathers are brothers. I was expecting us to belong to the same clade. I also found a possible 4th cousin from Cameroon. surname Mbunya, haplogroup A-F96/A00. Oh I’m 86.8% SubSaharan African; 45.4% being “Nigerian”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congratz! Is this your very first DNA test? What is your complete breakdown? If you’re ok with it you could send me a viewing link which you can create on the Ancestry Composition page by clicking the “share” button and selecting “copy link”. I will shortly put my surveyfindings online for 200 African American 23andme results. This will however be based on the previous 2018/2019 version. If you go to the 23andme section I already have pages in place for West Indian, Jamaican and Haitian results.

      That’s excellent btw that you already found an African DNA match! With some follow-up research you can get even more insight from this finding.

      Have you ever heard of triangulation? If you share the exact same DNA segment with your Cameroonian match and another African American match who also happens to match the same Cameroonian person. Then this will most likely be because of a shared Cameroonian ancestor for the three of you. When you are able to fit in that African American match in your family tree, then possibly you will be able to associate a particular family line with that Cameroonian lineage!

      If you go to the profile page of your Cameroonian DNA match and scroll all the way down then you should see a button “Find Relatives in Common”. If you click on that you will get an overview of all your shared DNA matches. The matches for whom it says “Shared DNA: Yes” might be most promising. Because they match on the exact same spot with your Cameroonian match as you do yourself.

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    • Nice, that’s a very solid match! Most African DNA matches i’m seeing on Ancestry tend to be in the 8-10 cM range.

      The links you sent me didn’t work btw. Make sure that Link sharing is enabled when you copy the link.

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  4. I found two people also related to the same Cameroonian neither are known relatives. so far I have just 1 fully African match. 1st DNA test I ever took

    Liked by 1 person

    • West African
      70.4%
      Nigerian
      45.4%
      Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean
      12.7%
      Senegambian & Guinean
      4.2%
      Broadly West African
      8.1%
      Congolese & Southern East African
      16.1%
      Angolan & Congolese
      12.9%
      Southern East African
      2.1%
      Broadly Congolese & Southern East African
      1.1%
      Northern East African
      0.1%
      Sudanese
      0.1%
      Broadly Sub-Saharan African
      0.2%

      Northwestern European
      9.6%
      British & Irish
      7.8%
      French & German
      0.2%
      Broadly Northwestern European
      1.6%
      Southern European
      1.0%
      Italian
      0.6%
      Greek & Balkan
      0.2%
      Broadly Southern European
      0.2%
      Broadly European
      0.3%
      Chinese & Southeast Asian
      1.1%
      Indonesian, Thai, Khmer & Myanma
      0.6%
      Filipino & Austronesian
      0.5%
      Native American
      0.7
      North African
      0.2%
      I also supposedly have a possible Jamaican connection, even though all 4 grandparents were born in the U.S. No known Jamaicans

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for sharing! These results are mostly in line with what I have been seeing for other African Americans. The “Nigerian” could be somewhat overstated but should still be a valuable indication of substantial Nigerian lineage. To be be confirmed/specified by any Nigerian DNA matches you will find. However to some degree this so-callled “Nigerian” might also include DNA inherited from ancestors originally from Benin, Togo, eastern Ghana and also Cameroon! Again African DNA matches may clarify this for you.

        You also did an Ancestry test right and still waiting for the results? It will be interesting to see how much “Nigeria” they will give you. Because of their additional “Benin/Togo” category it might be better defined than on 23andme. But as always these are estimates which come in ranges. Should also be useful to compare Ancestry’s “Senegal” & “Mali” scores with your “Senegambian & Guinean” + “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” scores on 23andme. These are obviously not perfect equivalents. But they should give you more insight on the approximate degree of lineage you might have from areas to the west of Nigeria.

        Nice to see the elevated “Angolan & Congolese” score for you. With this update I highly suspect that the detection of Central African DNA has been improved on 23andme. Which is good news!

        The 2.1% “Southern East African” is of course in itself a small amount but relatively speaking quite high! In my survey of 200 AA 23andme results (2018 version) the group average was 1%. But very few people received scores greater than 2%. So that’s quite distinctive. Combined with the also small but still detectable amount of Southeast Asian admixture it makes it quite likely you have diluted Malagasy lineage. Something which could be true for many African Americans in fact. You will have to corroborate though by finding associated DNA matches and whenever possible also expand your family tree to beyond the mid 1800’s to establish historical plausibility.

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      • I also supposedly have a possible Jamaican connection, even though all 4 grandparents were born in the U.S. No known Jamaicans

        Yes this happens at times for African Americans. Also from other parts of the West Indies. This Recent Ancestral Location feature on 23andme is potentially very useful. But it’s not meant to be conclusive. The prediction is based on DNA matching strength. So apparently you match with quite a few Jamaicans within 23andme’s refernce database. This is of course indicative of shared ancestry. However it does not per se say anything about who those shared ancestors were. Or where they came from! Due to all sorts of migrations (incl. involuntary ones) there are always multiple scenario’s to keep in mind.

        Generally speaking when looking into Caribbean matches for African Americans I think one of the following options may apply.

        1) Shared African Lineage, whereby one ancestor ended up in the Caribbean and his or her relative ended up in North America
        2) Shared European lineage, whereby one European ancestor left offspring in both the Caribbean and in North America
        3) Caribbean ancestry to be traced back to inter-colonial slave trade
        4) Caribbean ancestry to be traced back to voluntary migrations from late 1800’s/ early 1900’s onwards
        5) African Americans migrating to or passing through the Caribbean (both during Slavery and afterwards) and leaving offspring there.

        See also this recent blog post of mine:

        Slave Voyages: not only Trans-Atlantic but also Intra-American!

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  5. Sudanese 0.1%
    North African 0.2%
    Italian 0.6%
    Greek & Balkan 0.2%
    Broadly Southern European 0.2%
    Senegambian & Guinean 4.2%

    Both of my father’s parents were from Georgia. My mother’s mother, both of her parents were from South Carolina. My mother’s father,also had South Carolinian grandparents. I say all this because I wonder if the above %s indicate Fula ancestry? I also do have Virginia links found via looking at the surname of the family, who once “owned” my great grandmother’s family. I know that they came from England to Virginia then moved to Kentucky and Missouri, where my great grand mother was born. I could be wrong , but I suspect my Cameroonian link got swept up with Nigerian likely Igbo shipped via Calabar,my speculation

    Location
    London, England, United Kingdom Your genetic relationship
    Predicted relationship
    Fourth Cousin
    Shared DNA
    0.36%
    27 cM

    He is fully Caribbean I’m fully African American

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    • I wonder if the above %s indicate Fula ancestry?

      Yes most likely of course the minor but still robust Senegambian 4.2%, followed by the minimal North African 0.2% score and possibly also the minuscule 0.1% of “Sudanese”.

      You are very likely to receive several Caribbean matches btw as this is quite common for African Americans.

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  6. A number of my matches are apparently ” mixed” geographically. Seeming to have connections to both America and the Caribbean. At least one maybe two seem to be fully Caribbean. Going back as far as I can on paper, not one of my ancestors was from the Caribbean. But obviously some relatives ended up there including surprisingly enough two Domincan Republic links. One is heavily British mixed

    Liked by 1 person

  7. my prediction for my AncestryDNA test Nigerian
    45.5 – 5 for Benin/Togo and another 5 going to Western Bantu
    add that 5 to my Angolan/Congolese+ Broadly West African
    divide Ghana,Liberia,Salone in half. Letting one half stand for Ivc/Ghana
    the other half plus half of my Sen/GN is Mali
    35.4% Nigeria
    5%Benin/Togo
    26% Cameroon/Congo & Western Bantu
    6.35% Ivc/Ghana
    8.45% Mali
    the remainder of my African divided into Senegal and and Southern
    and Eastern Bantu.

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  8. Well, here are my ancestry results finally lol. 46% Nigerian 29% Western Bantu, Mali 4% Senegal 4% Benin/ Togo 3% Ivory Coast/Ghana 2% Scotland 5%, England/NW.Europe 1% Wales 1% Sweden 2% North Italy 1%. Indigenous Americas North 1% Southern Philippines 1%
    So from what I see, I have Italian on both tests, but only North African on 23andme. Also nothing pointing to Eastern Africa on Ancestry. Southeast Asian is on both. Native American on both. The range I got for Nigeria is 36 to 56% for Western Bantu 0-37% Senegal 0-13% Mali 0-18% Ivc/Ghana 0-22% Benin/Togo 0-11% . My genetic communities are “Early Virginia African Americans” and “Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina African Americans”
    This fits with what I know about my family origins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congratz! Pretty much in line with your 23andme results. Especially the Nigerian scores. But the Central African part is again elevated as well. Also consistent on the minor but still distinctive Southeast Asian admixture. Follow-up research by finding associated DNA matches should be very insightful.

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      • So far I’ve found on Ancestry 3 likely Igbo distant cousins. Plus one Yoruba. They all are 9cm. I also found a Sierra Leone link I suspect is Krio. 2/3 of my Igbo links are 100% Nigerian while one is 2% Western Bantu. One thing I’ve been trying to figure out is the discrepancy between my 12.7% Ghana,Liberia,& Sierra Leone score on 23andme and my only 2% Ivc/ Ghana on Ancestry. I’m only 3% Benin& Togo on Ancestry. That may all be Ghanaian in reality or it may be Nigerian or actual Beninese. It seems like not much to pull from to get me up to 12.7%. Mali is only 4%. Senegal 4%. That gives me an Upper Guinean score of 8% according to Ancestry.

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        • Italian showed up on both tests not much but a range of 0-1% on Ancestry with 1% North Italy. 23andme gave me Greek/ Balkans with Italian. The 0.2% North African is absent on Ancestry. I also lack Southeast African on Ancestry. So apparently all I can venture is that Ancestry is reading all my Bantoid DNA as Western. The Malagasy link is almost a given based on both tests

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  9. Hi, I’m Zimbabwean (Ndebele) and trying to make sense of my results. I got them today so i guess they would reflect the latest update. Happy to share them through 23&me if you’re still running your surveys. Curios to know how thy compare to other Zimbabweans both shonas and ndebele and southern Africans in general as Ndebeles are a mix of various southern african tribes ( zulus, tswana, xhosas etc) and trying to see if there’s any noticeable trends and how they match some of the oral history i’ve been told.

    Also what does southern east african capture?

    Sub-Saharan African
    99.9%
    Congolese & Southern East African
    98.9%
    Angolan & Congolese
    78.2%
    Southern East African
    17.7%
    Broadly Congolese & Southern East African
    3.0%
    West African
    0.5%
    Nigerian
    0.5%

    Broadly Sub-Saharan African
    0.5%
    Unassigned
    0.1%

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for your offer to participate in my survey! I have currently not started a new one. But I might do so next year. Please send me a viewing link which you can create on your ancestry composition page by way of the share button (first enable link sharing!).

      I have not seen that many updated Zimbabwean results yet, except for the one described in this blogpost. Quite similar to yours except that your breakdown hardly includes any minor so-called ‘West African” component.

      I have posted several pre-update results though for Zimbaweans as well as Southern Africans on the page linked below. My comments there should still be relevant and hopefully useful. I suspect most of them are Shona, but I am not sure.

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/central-southern-africa-2/

      It is indeed very interesting to explore how any South African connection (Zulus, Tswana, Xhosas etc) for the Ndebele might be expressed in DNA results. The so-called “Southern East African” category on 23andme might not be well suited though as it is based on genetic similarity with reference samples from Swahili countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda & Ruanda and not actual South African samples.

      Ancestry does however currently have a category based on seemingly South African samples, it’s called “Southern Bantu”. I imagine this region will be better equipped to capture any differences (on group level) between the Ndbele and other ethnic groups in Zimbabwe.

      Also going through your DNA matches might be very helpful. You might actually have a few distant South African DNA cousins if you systematically go through your list. In case you’re interested see also this previous discussion I had with a Ndebele person who tested on Ancestry:

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/central-southern-africa/comment-page-1/#comment-2516

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      • Many thanks for your detailed response, a real shame that most sites don’t don’t have many southern African samples, I’ve also tried my Heritage which came up as mostly west African. I’ve recently had better luck with third party sites such as GED match but will give Ancestry a go too. Your resources are incredible and they’ve been extremely useful and i’ll be keeping a look out for your latest updates. I’ve also shared the link to my results so you can use them should you pick up the survey again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks a lot for the appreciation and sharing your results! I’d be very interested also to hear about your Ancestry results when you receive them! I actually do also have other surveys in mind focusing not on regional admixture but rather DNA matching patterns for Africans and Afro-descendants. Would you be willing to participate in such a survey as well? For an earlier survey (based on a tool which is no longer available on 23andme) see below. If you scroll all the way down you’ll see the results of a few Zimbabweans as well:

          https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/countries-of-ancestry/

          About MyHeritage this company’s African breakdown is indeed still clearly underpar as they usually describe Central & Southern African DNA in quite misleading terms. See this blogpost below for a more detailed discussion based on the results of a person who’s half Mozambican.

          https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/2019/12/11/the-mozambique-connection-on-ancestry-myheritage/

          I also discuss DNA matching patterns in this post and actually for the half Mozambican person who tested on Ancestry I found quite a few matches from Zimbabwe as well. I am quite intrigued by the mutual connections between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. As I think it is also relevant for Afro-descendants when taking into account their DNA matches from Zimbabwe. Have you been in contact yet with any of your DNA matches on 23andme?

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  10. 23&me places almost all of my African ancestry as Nigerian with the new update, whereas Ancestry places almost all of my African ancestry in Benin/Togo. If you were to venture a guess for ethnic group would you say Gbe-speaking groups? Or Yoruba? Or is this a case where the most you could say is in the Nigeria-Benin-Togo region somewhere? My background is Anglo-Caribbean, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Natasha, if you show a primary or even predominant “Benin/Togo score on Ancestry I would certainly take this as a valuable clue. As it provides more specification than 23andme is currently able to provide. And after the most recent update on Ancestry the prediction accuracy of “Benin/Togo” has been restored somewhat (obviously it’s still not going to be 100% accurate 😉 However it will most likely be traced back to multiple ethnic groups. Keeping in mind that neither “Benin/Togo ” nor “Nigerian” is an exclusive marker for any given ethnic group!

      Also it’s essential to be aware that on average the DNA contribution of an ancestor living in the mid 1700’s could be around 0.5%-1.5% only. And therefore your “Nigeria” and/or “Benin/Togo” score (which most likely you will have inherited from both your parents, as well as all 4 grandparents etc.) could include ancestors from various ethnic groups, all at the same time! Depending on your exact Anglo-Caribbean background and fitting historical plausibility I would guess that both Gbe and Yoruba lineage could be possible, aside from any additional ancestry from the wider area.

      Having a closer look into your African DNA matches might provide more clarity. I am currently preparing a blog post about the African DNA matches being reported for 30 Anglo-Caribbeans. The general trends could apply for you as well, so keep an eye out for that post!

      Also I have recently published my West Indian survey findings based on the pre-updated 23andme results. See these links for more details:

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/west-indian-23andme-results/

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/jamaican-23andme-results/

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  11. Thanks very much. Before the recent update, 24andme had me down as more Ghanaian than Nigerian. Now I almost all Nigerian.

    The other (minor) region is Senegambian.

    I have several African ancestors from Grenada in the early-to-mid 1700’s. But I believe that I have more recent African ancestry from Tobago – as recent as 1800 – possibly via Barbados. Also possible African ancestry from coastal Venezuela, right across from Curacao, but I don’t know much about that lineage yet. So kind of a Caribbean melting pot.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fonte thanks for the updated post. I believe you correct that Nigerian results almost certainly represents regions to the west of Nigeria as well. Like most African Americans my Nigerian score on 23andme increased after the update. I went from 36.4 percent Nigerian to 39.7 percent Nigerian. After the recent AncestryDNA update I went from being 42 percent Nigerian to 41 percent.

    FamilyTree DNA recently did an update as well. FamilyTree DNA update covered a few additional regions across West Africa, which now includes Nigeria, Guinea/Sierra Leone, Ghana/Togo/Benin, Liberia/Ivory Coast and Senegal/Gambia/Guinea Bissau. The FamilyTree DNA seems to lend a lot of support to your position of Nigeria results on 23andMe and AncestryDNA including modern countries surrounding Nigeria. On FamilyTree DNA my Nigerian results are 29 percent and my Ghana, Togo and Benin results are 13 percent, which is pretty close to the percentage that 23andme and Ancestry had for my Nigeria scores. FamilyTree DNA also stated that my Sierra Leone/Guinea results was18 percent. These regional results make more sense when viewed light of other research that I have done regarding my mother’s ethnic group being from Sierra Leone and my father’s ethnic group being from Burkina Faso/Ghana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment! I have not really seen that many updated FTDNA results yet. But I do like their expanded African breakdown. It is interesting to see the increasing regional detail within West Africa being provided by several DNA testing companies right now. A great improvement which took place during the last 2 years or so. Prior to 23andme’s update in 2018 only Ancestry providing such resolution for West & Central Africa.

      Of course we have to keep in mind that despite similar labeling these West African categories will not be perfect equivalents. Still I suspect that indeed you will often find much overlap and even consistency (more or less) between DNA results obtained from Ancestry, 23andme and FTDNA etc. Which is great for finding more solid ground or even corroboration about your main regional roots within Africa. But on the other hand I also think that especially African DNA matches will be able to take your research beyond these approximations and add more clarifying detail.

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