“Benin/Togo” Region

Is “Benin/Togo” really pinpointing origins from within Benin’s borders?

UPDATE 04-03-2018

This blog page was originally posted in October 2015.  Based on my ongoing AncestryDNA survey findings I have now published a more detailed follow-up:

*** (click to enlarge)


Source: Ancestry.com

*** (click to enlarge)

For other detailed maps showing the ethnolinguistical distribution in Benin & Togo see this page (scroll down).


Gbe languages spoken in Benin, Togo and eastern Ghana


(click to enlarge)

Stats BT diasp


(click to enlarge)


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


(click to enlarge)

Intercolonial trade (O Malley 2009)

Source: “Beyond the Middle Passage: Slave Migration from the Caribbean to North America, 1619-1807”, : (G. O’Malley, 2009), The William and Mary Quarterly, 66, (1), 125-172.


One of the most surprising outcomes of my survey of AncestryDNA results across the Afro-Diaspora has been the higher than expected average scores for “Benin/Togo” seen for African Americans and also Anglo-Caribbeans, especially Jamaicans. It is surprising because even given individual variation and many possibilities of “real” Beninese ancestry to some (minor) degree, documented Trans Atlantic slave trade data does not seem to support such a consistently high average level of “Benin/Togo” for the Anglo-Caribbean and even less so for the USA. We can see this clearly in the second chart above generated from the Slave Voyages Database. If we compare the percentages of the Bight of Benin with the calculated shares of total African for “Benin/Togo” according to AncestryDNA there are major discrepancies especially for Jamaica and the USA (Louisiana being a notable exception but not really representative for the rest of the States). It’s intriguing to think about what might possibly be causing this outcome. The following three scenario’s i will mention can perhaps provide partial explanations for the unexpectedly high “Benin/Togo” percentages being reported but as a fair warning in advance they are also speculative!

The slave voyage data from Barbados indicates that especially in earlier timeperiods (1600’s and early 1700’s) there was indeed a significant inflow of captives from Benin arriving in the West Indies. And possibly by way of Inter-Colonial Slave Trade these captives were also partially brought over to Jamaica when its plantation economy was being set up in the late 1600’s as well as to the US. According to a latest study (O’Malley, 2014) this Inter-Colonial Slave Trade route would amount to about 15% of overall slave importations for the Thirteen Colonies, being more pronounced for some states than others (see last chart).

Even inspite of the prevailing brutal living conditions in the Caribbean – causing negative reproduction rates in general – it might possibly be that cumulative founder effects were set in motion by those people who did manage to survive the ordeal and passed on their genes to the first generations of locally born slaves in the Caribbean as well as to some degree in the USA. So it would seem in this case the inherited “Benin/Togo” markers could be signalling genuine Beninese ancestry, especially from the Fon and other Gbe speaking groups who would have had a relatively larger presence during these earlier timeperiods.

Another undocumented source of genuine Beninese origins i can think of is that despite being shipped away from the socalled “Gold Coast” (and also counted as such in the slave trade data above) a higher than expected number of these captives (often just assumed to be Akan speakers) might actually originally have been from the Benin/Togo area. Which is to say that the proportion of Gbe speaking people among Gold Coast captives might have been underestimated. Only ending up in the European slave ports along the Gold Coast instead of the Bight of Benin because of coastal shipping or overland routes.

A third possibility being that the illegal slave trade taking place after 1807/1808 and also involving the Bight of Benin (e.g. the Clotilde voyage in 1859) was greater than imagined sofar. However given the very low reported rate of African born slaves in the USA throughout the 1800’s and the documented early creolization of American slaves in general this option seems least likely to offer an overall explanation for the high averages of reported “Benin/Togo”, although in selected individual cases it could very well be.


Genetic overlap with other regions?

***(click to enlarge)

*** (click to enlarge)

Ghana outlier (white paper)

Source: Ethnicity Estimate White Paper by Ancestry.com


Benin’s largest ethnic group is the Fon (39%), followed by the Adja (15%), Yoruba (12%) and Bariba (9%). Togo’s largest ethnic groups are the Ewe (21%), Kabye (12%), Mina (3.2%) and Kotokoli (3.2%). Benin has more ethnic ties to its neighbor Nigeria; Togo has more links to Ghana. These ethnic ties are the result of long-standing kingdoms that flourished before European colonists created new borders.” (Ancestry.com)

Many people in Togo and Benin speak one of about 20 related Gbe languages. Linguistic evidence indicates that most of the Gbe people came from the east in several migrations between the 10th and 15th centuries. The Gbe were pushed westward during a series of wars with the Yoruba people of Nigeria, then settled in Tado on the Mono River (in present-day Togo).” (Ancestry.com)

Ninety-six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and seventeen short tandem repeat (STRs) were investigated on the Y-chromosome of 288 unrelated healthy individuals from populations in Benin (Bariba, Yoruba, and Fon) and the Ivory Coast (Ahizi and Yacouba). We performed a multidimensional scaling analysis based on FST and RST genetic distances using a large extensive database of sub-Saharan African populations. There is more genetic homogeneity in Ivory Coast populations compared with populations from Benin. ” (Genetic population study of Y-chromosome markers in Benin and Ivory Coast ethnic groups“, 2015)


Given the fact that AncestryDNA tested Africans themselves also show regionally mixed testresults (usually only neighbouring and overlapping regions, see also this pageit is wise to be careful in drawing premature conclusions and also consider other ancestral options. In the screenshots above we can see that prudence is also called for by Ancestry.com itself. Especially the apparent existence of Ghanaian reference panel candidates scoring over 90% “Benin/Togo” gives food for thought. Ancestry.com was careful to remove this single sample for good reasons however it’s a very clear indication of the overlap between Ghanaian and Beninese samples utilized by AncestryDNA as can be seen in the first screenshot above. In this very insightful plot it is shown that the “Benin/Togo” and “Ivory Coast/Ghana” regions cluster the closest from all other African regions on AncestryDNA. And furthermore the samples from Benin/Togo and Ghana/Ivory Coast are the only ones that seem to overlap to some degree. Suggesting that they’re genetically very close indeed and there might be some incorrect assignment between the two as it would be impossible to make any distinction in some cases.

There are several possible reasons why this should be so (see also more detailed discussion on the AncestryDNA Regions page). But it’s probably mostly due to widespread ancient shared ancestry across Ghana, Togo and Benin, extending into southern Nigeria a putative home land of many Kwa/Gbe speaking groups, as well as being correlated with ethnic background in Ghana. Especially the non-Akan groups (more than half of the total population of Ghana) and particularly the Ewe (who also live in Togo and are Gbe speakers just like many ethnic groups from Benin) possibly possessing a higher degree of “Benin/Togo” markers. Counterintuitive perhaps at first but still very insightful if you are aware of the relevant context. As can be verified from the one single AncestryDNA result i have obtained sofar for a quite likely Ewe person below. However i suppose due to widespread ethnic intermarriage “Benin/Togo” DNA markers could probably also show up for Akan speakers themselves.

Again the country name labeling of the AncestryDNA regions should therefore not be taken at face value. “Benin/Togo” might signify different and wideranging ethnical roots also outside of Benin’s borders depending on your own nationality. For Haitians (whose results do show the highest average score among Afro-Diasporeans for this region as expected, see very first chart above) and Brazilians this category is indeed very likely to be derived from the Fon, Adja or Yoruba. Given their confirmed and well documented ancestral/cultural connections to Benin and Yorubaland. For African Americans and Anglo-Caribbeans “Benin/Togo” is perhaps more likely indicative of Ewe or other types of non-Akan ancestry from Ghana/Togo.

Additionally also Nigerians (even Igbo’s!) might have carried over some ancient “Benin/Togo” component into the genepool of African Americans, Jamaicans & other Anglo-Caribbeans.  Even more so than for Ghanaians showing “Benin/Togo” markers in their genome the “Benin/Togo” labeling is misleading for Nigerians as it misrepresents the most likely east to west direction of geneflow for these DNA markers. It is perhaps best to consider this a component “X”, originating within Nigeria but nowadays seen most frequently (but not exclusively!) among people from Benin/Togo because of ancient migrations, shared origins and founding effects.

We can verify this by reviewing the two AncestryDNA results shown below for persons of confirmed fully Igbo and Yoruba ancestry. As expected because of geographical proximity the Yoruba person shows a greater degree of “Benin/Togo” than the Igbo person, but for both it is very substantial. They are of course only individual results (see the very first chart for a group average calculated by myself and this graph for the samples used by Ancestry.com) but in theory any Yoruba or Igbo ancestor having a similar genetic profile could have passed on “Benin/Togo” markers to their American-born descendants. For Jamaicans the Yoruba option is likely to be more relevant than it is for African Americans because of the additional arrival of socalled “Nago” contract labourers after the Abolition of slavery. But for both i suppose at least a minor degree of socalled “Benin/Togo” could very well also have found its way in their AncestryDNA results by way of Igbo or Biafran ancestry.

Each case to be judged on its own merits naturally and depending also on any possible additional clues. All things being the same i suppose for people with “Benin/Togo” reported as number 1 main region a Biafran explanation might be least likely and other more plausible scenario’s should be explored. However each of the above described ethnic options or also a combination to any degree could still be possible in individual cases 😉 Right now there’s just no way of making the distinction. Perhaps with an upcoming update there will be more clarity. But even so a perfect measure of “genuine” Beninese ancestry might never truly be possible due to artificial manmade borders and a high degree of genetic similarity between neighbouring ethnic groups. In the end all of these ancestral clusters and regions are afterall constructs much like the very concept of “ethnicity” itself.

*** (See also this page (scroll down for Ghana) for other ethnic maps.)



ghana ethnic breakdown

Languages spoken in Ghana


Ghanaian AncestryDNA results


Results of a Ghanaian person with a very likely Ewe background from Peki/Volta region


Nigerian AncestryDNA results

See also this separate page featuring over 15 results:



Results of a Nigerian with Yoruba background



Results of a Nigerian with Igbo background




75 thoughts on ““Benin/Togo” Region

    • I just wanted to point out too that I manage Nigerian kits (1 Igbo, 2 Yoruba & 1 Efik) via AncestryDNA and Benin/Togo is the top regional cluster. among two of them, I also think that a sizable degree of Benin/Togo appearing among African Americans is connected to Ewe genetics, though not the only of course. I think it would be great if we (if you haven’t already started) create a catalog of ethnic groups that map to AncestryDNA’s regional clusters. It could very likely help to predict better ancestry regional affiliations more precisely (semi-precisely). For example, we know that southern Nigerians (East-West) almost certainly map to the Nigeria and Benin/Togo regional clusters. As well we know that Fula and Cape Verdeans map to Senegal and Mali. What if we build a large ethnic-regional cluster mapping directory? It’s something to consider, right?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Indeed! I have in fact already started out (modestly) based on the results people have been sharing with me or which i have come across on the net. Here’s the link for that sheet:

        African AncestryDNA results (group averages, for both countries and ethnic groups)

        All the regional affiliations you have pointed out can be seen already, albeit based on minimal sample size for the most part. I have for example 3 Ewe results which contrast greatly with the 6 Akan samples from Ghana.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yo, I still don’t get it

          I dont know if I asked you this before, but I wanna know

          Cameroon/Congo Southern Bantus

          Indicates Bantu lineages from other countries beside Cameroon but I heard the samples for Cameroon/Congo is Cameroon grasslands

          My Cameroon/Congo Southern Bantus for me would indicate Gabonese lineage, Cameroonian Tikar lineage which I know from my mom side. Does it also indicate I have Cameroon grassland lineage ?

          I don’t get it

          With my results how is Benin/Togo the majority of my African DNA if I have recent African ancestry on my father’s side which is Gabon-Cameroon ?

          Cuz my father’s father’s father is 1st generation Carribean but his father is African .

          I keep hearing from people that if you have
          Benin/Togo & Cameroon/Congo alone it either Indicates Igbo or other Southeastern Nigerian tribes ?

          Does Cameroon/Congo indicate just Bantu or Igbo as well ?

          I thought Igbo would be labeled under Benin/Togo ??????

          But beside all of that



          • Yes i understand it is confusing but honestly i cannot give you any more advise beyond what i already told you! Ancestry’s update in 2018 has been a disaster for the African breakdown. I have blogged about this various times. So really it is a waste of time to try and make more sense of it beyond the basics.


            For those who are lucky to have tested before September 2018 I still find it best to stick with those previous results.

            Otherwise just wait for the upcoming new update Ancestry will be rolling out. From what i have seen it will not be a drastic improvement but it will most likely change your regional scores for Benin/Togo etc. So as always best not to get too attached to your “estimates”!

            Either way again i would advise you to focus on your African DNA matches which will greatly broaden your perspective on your African origins!


            Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes, yes, VERY GOOD. I’ve had 25 family members tested and between all of us we have 20 100% African genome matches, including some from Liberia, Togo, and Delta States. I can send them to add to your list if you’d like.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am jamaican and took the ancestry DNA Test. I am a descendent of Mooretown, the Maroon community in Portland, easter Jamaica near Port antonio. I know that my great great grandmother/grandfather spoke Twi or a version of it. Yet when I did my test, i was found to have only 10% ghana/ivory coast and 40% benin/togo. I have met many Ghanaians in American and they have ALL told me that I look like them! I have also met people from Bein/Togo, and I have never been told that I have any resembles to them. One person have told me that the Haitian people in New York City resembles them. I have looked at pictures of both sets of people, and generally I see no resembles between us Jamaicans and people from Benin/Togo, but its quite obvious as a Jamaican that we resemble the people from Ghana. I know that looks is not all to determining genetic relationships, but i sense that ancestry.com is completely off withs assignment of DNA to people of Ghana-Ivory/Benin-Togo. They seem to have a hard time distinguishing the two, and this may be the only reason for the discrepancies listed above!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment! You have a very interesting background! What were your complete results? I would love to include a screenshot of your results on my blog as i find them very educational! I am currently preparing a new blog page in which i will provide a summary and analysis of my surveyfindings of 100 Jamaican AncestryDNA results. Your participation in my survey would be extremely helpful! I already have collected 96 Jamaican results which can be seen via this online spreadsheet:

      Jamaican AncestryDNA results

      If you’re okay with it please share your ethnicity estimates with me (FonteFelipe) by following these steps:

      – Sign in to Ancestry.com
      – Click the DNA tab and select Your DNA Results Summary
      – Click the Settings button on the right side of the page
      – Scroll down to the sharing DNA results section
      – Enter my Ancestry username which is FonteFelipe
      – Select role of guest
      – Click the SEND INVITATION button

      Thxs in advance!


      • Hello, I am Barbadian and I see that Barbados is featured prominently along with Jamaica in your charts. My son, who is mixed race (his father is Mexican) did his DNA and he came back with ancestry from Benin/Togo (from my side). Growing up in Barbados, I was told we are descended from the Igbo. Our local dialect has Akan and Igbo words. Can you provide any more info on Bajan ancestry?
        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Could you describe the features taht make Jamaicans resemble Ghanaians and not people Benin/Togo? For xample, facial features?


    • Agreed! I too am a Maroon Descendant and Ive visited Ghana and I saw many that I featured or featured me. Also in Ashanti Region they told me I was their relative and spoke to me in the Ashanti twi language but did not understand. On ancestry and 23 and me Ive about 5 ghanian relatives, 5 igbo, and about 3 yoruba relatives. so Definately within the connectiving regions. I have a high cameroon/congo, next in line is the benin/togo. 5% ghana, 5% nigeria however, the cameroon congo/ can include the igbo, the efik, ibibio tribes of nigeria, benin togo can be also be the yoruba which is large, they come from a large kingdom the oyo empire.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi I was wondering if you could possibly assist me. I’m mixed race 51% African the breakdown is 32% Nigerian, 13% Benin/Togo, 4% Mali, 1% each s.africa & Ghana. I understand Benin/Togo can be considered both Nigeria or Ghana. I’m finding it a little confusing. How would you read these results? Thank you in advance


    • Without any additional context i cannot tell you that much beyond speculation. However it might be telling that your “Ivory Coast/Ghana” score is only 1%. It *might* be indicative that your “Benin/Togo”% is more so related to your predominant Nigeria amount. If you like to zoom into closer detail of your possible ethnic lineage, i recommend you start searching for African DNA matches. I have recently blogged about it:

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry


  4. I’m African American. Benin/Togo 46% Cameroon/Congo 17%. Africa Southeastern Bantu 11%
    Senegal 7%. Mali 6%. African South-Central hunter-Gathers 2%. Ivory Coast/Ghana 2% and
    Nigeria less than 1%.

    After reading a lot of information about Nigeria and Ghana’s relationship to the markers of Benin/Togo.
    I have virtually none of Ghana or Nigeria DNA What do you make of this? Does this mean I have genuine Benin/Togo DNA? How can I have such a high Benin/Togo and no Nigeria or Ghana. Total let down I have not an ounce of Ghana and even less Nigeria. I’m shocked I’m even 92% African. I’m just too thrilled‼️But confused.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Felicia, the odds of “Benin/Togo” being genuine are determined first of all by your background i would say. You would have to study the documented ethnic/regional origins of enslaved Africans being brought to the states where your earliest known African American ancestors were from. However from what i’ve read there’s very few places where genuine Benin lineage (Fon/Gbe) would ever have been truly predominant in the USA (they were present in significant numbers in several states though). To be frank i think for a greater majority of African Americans “Benin/Togo” will rather suggest Ewe lineage from eastern Ghana or southern Nigerian lineage. Or also a combination of both and in some cases also some genuine connection to Benin and/or Togo thrown in the mix as well. In your case 46% of your DNA could very well trace back to several dozens of individual ancestors who were born in West Africa and relocated to the Americas. You can almost be certain they would not have been from just one place or just one ethnic group. Although in all likelyhood still closely interrelated and geographically nearby.

      In order to confirm atleast one single family line it is very useful to search for African matches. I highly recommend that you start searching for them if you haven’t done so already. You are very likely to have some Nigerian or Ghanaian DNA matches inspite of low amounts for these regions in your AncestryDNA results. I have looked into the DNA matches for over 30 African Americans and practically all of them had matches from those countries. Matches from either Benin or Togo are a rarity, probably first of all because of a lack of genuine ancestral ties but also because migrants from those countries to the US or the UK are much fewer in number than Nigerians or Ghanaians who are therefore a bit overrepresented in AncestryDNA’s customer database. For more details and a tutorial see:

      Historically documented ethnic/regional origins of African Americans
      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry

      Liked by 1 person

      • My 35% Benin/Togo does it mean I have dozens of ancestors as well ?

        Cuz now that I know I have Benin/Togo it can mean I’m either Eastern Ghanaian, Southern Nigerian, or a combination of both.

        Cameroon/Congo is pretty much determine your Bantu Genome but does it also mean Igbo & other Southeastern Nigerian tribes as well ?

        Liked by 2 people

        • That may very well be the case. We all have dozens if not hundreds of ancestors if you go back a certain number of generations. These charts may be illustrative:

          Especially after Ancestry’s update in September 2018 “Cameroon, Congo and Southern Bantu” can indeed also refer to Igbo or otherwise southern Nigerian ancestry. Looking into your African DNA matches will provide more clarity.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thx man 👍👍👍👍😁
            I appreciate it 😁👍😄

            If Benin/Togo is talking about Eastern Ghanaian, Beninese, & Southern Nigerian origins. Is it rare for somebody to have a legitimate Togolese ancestry ?

            Cuz when I look at my results
            When I look at the circles & the small circle it shows more of my DNA to Benin/Nigeria then it is Benin/Togo.

            As a Afro-Carribean person that have leeward islands & that have Benin/Togo as the majority of the african-makeup am I mix with just Beninese & Southern Nigerian origins or am I mixed with Beninese, Southern Nigerian, Eastern Ghanaian, & Togolese origin ?

            Thank you for answering my question about Cameroon/Congo 😁😁

            I know that my Gabonese & Cameroonian origin is talking about & I’m glad to know that my Cameroon/Congo also means that I have igbo & South eastern Nigerian tribes ancestry.


            • Again it is your African DNA matches who could probably provide the best answer. Eventhough there are relatively few Togolese and Beninese persons who tested with Ancestry. Which decreases the odds of getting matched with them when compared with Ghanaians who are much more plentiful in Ancestry’s customer database. Still for several people I have already come across a few Togolese & Beninese matches.

              Either way it is crucial to understand that Togo is very much an artificial and rather small country with colonial borders! Most of the ethnic groups in Togo also live in neighbouring Ghana and/or Benin or are very closely related to ethnic groups living there! This goes especially for the Ewe, the biggest ethnic group of Togo. See this page for an overview of ethnic groups living in Ghana, Togo and Benin.


              Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Brother, with this 2020 update is it the same thing ?

        The Ivory coast/Ghana I have in this 2020 update what does it indicate ?


    • Hey, that’s pretty cool. My nigerian is 46% and my cameroon congo is 14% which suggests igbo lineage but I also wondered if i could have some benin/togo ancestry or “ewe”. By the way im 12% ivory coast/ghana

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Felicia, I understand your frustration but I don’t think you should be worried or confused. Having Benin/Togo is not a bad thing. I am Ewe from Ghana. We have Ewe tribe spanning from southeastern Ghana to Togo. I think labeling the DNA result with the country name is a bit confusing since the name Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, etc. were not in existence when slavery took place. All these names came into the picture in the late 50s. Ewes in Ghana and Togo used to be in the same location until the Europeans came to draw boundaries and divided the Ewe tribe into Ghana and Togo. Same with Benin and Nigeria. You have Yorubas in Benin and Nigerian. I don’t think ancestry should be determined using those country names. I am a Ghanaian Ewe but still have families in Togo. Being a Ghanaian Ewe or Togo Ewe doesn’t make any difference. We are the same people. Should I go for the test, I’m likely to have high Togo/Benin though I am a Ghanaian Ewe. The land(Volta Region/Trans-volta Togoland) currently occupied by the Ewes in Ghana originally was part of the present day Togo. Any Ghanaian Ewe will have Togo/Benin when s(he) should take the test because we used to be part of present-day Togo.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I’d argue for you taking the test, if not for yourself for those of us in the diaspora. The more samples Ancestry has to work with, the better for eventually drawing better regions. For someone like myself, I’ve been able to find Ewe Ghanian heritage.

        BTW, while the names may initially be confusing, one simply has to do more research from there, which isn’t asking much. All regions will need some kind of name. Ancestry does make clear in its descriptions of its regions where this “group” can also be found. So, for instance, on the “Benin/Togo” region, Ancestry clearly lists in its “also found in” description that this genetic grouping is also found in Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali. Not only that, but Fonte’s literally starts off the post with the “also found in” description and with Benin/Togo in quotations is also the implication that this is just a region name, not something to be taken literally.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. FonteFelipe – think this analysis is fascinating. I’m African American and found that I have 22% out of 66% African from Benin/Togo as well as 14% Nigeria, 13% Cameroon Congo and 6% Ivory Coast/Ghana. I read your hypothesis on the Benin/Togo markers coming from the Ewe people and found an article about the Ewe’s in Ghana with a picture of tribal elders at a festival and one of them looked nearly identical to my maternal grandfather and his son my maternal uncle. The resemblance was more than striking, I’d love to share the pictures with you at some point. Based on that I’m fairly well convinced that I’m descended from the Ewe and despite Ghana being a lower percentage according to Ancestry. I’d be interested in your thoughts…I’ll follow the steps to share my results for your insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Chris thanks a lot for your comment! Finding resemblances with actual African persons is always fascinating. It’s something that i’ve been intrigued by for a long time actually. And i do think something is to be learnt from it. But more so going by generalized trends and not so much on a person to person basis as the individual variation among Africans themselves will be too great. As they say phenotype does not always follow genotype (although it usually is correlated even when not perfectly so). And from that perspective appearances can indeed just be skindeep and even misleading.

      You might still indeed have Ewe lineage however i like to underline that socalled “Benin/Togo” is not an exclusive marker for any given ethnic group. It could be suggestive of many different ethnic origins from eastern Ghana into southern Nigeria, while possibly also some ethnic groups further west such as the Gur speaking people in Burkina Faso and northern Ivory Coast might score substantial amounts for this region as well. I intend to do an update on this page eventually based on enhanced insights from my ongoing survey.

      I had a look at your DNA matches and i filtered out the quite likely African ones according to my tutorial (see this link). The outcome was very interesting and somewhat surprising. I would like to stress that these matches should be interpreted carefully. While providing very valuable insights and more detailed specifics on your African roots. They are at the same time only informative of single family lines and not your entire DNA or ancestry. The odds of being matched are also dependent on the number and specific origins of DNA tested Africans within Ancestry’s customer database.

      Having said all that i managed to single out atleast 12 African matches for you ( i will send the details by PM). I am not entirely sure of their background but their names are usually quite indicative. One of them is most likely from Ghana, not sure if Ewe. Another one is possibly from Nigeria. Two matches are quite likely from either Central or East AFrica. But the greatest number of your AFrican matches seem to be from the Upper Guinea region, that is Senegambia, Sierra Leone/Guinea and Mali! From what i’ve seen sofar this pattern is quite exceptional for African Americans. They do regularly have Upper Guinean matches but compared to their Nigerian or Ghanaian matches the number is almost always fewer. But in your case (sofar 😉 ) it’s the other way around. Even when combined your “Senegal” and “Mali” scores are only 6% out of 66%. Naturally as more and more Africans will do the AncestryDNA test you might eventually also receive more Ghanaian and Nigerian matches. Still a very useful outcome as it illustrates how proportionally speaking your individual DNA matches will not always correspond with your entire autosomal DNA makeup.


    • Hi Chris, I’m Ewe from Ghana. Ewes in Ghana were not originally part of Ghana. We used to be part of the present day Togo. Though I’m a Ghanaian Ewe now, my result is likely to be high for Togo/Benin should I take the test. I don’t think any Ghana Ewe will have high % for Ghana in their result since we weren’t originally part of Ghana until the 1950s. It was the Europeans who came to draw the boundaries to divide the Ewe tribe between Ghana and Togo. To have a high % for Ghana in your result may means you have an Akan ancestry.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for this article, I came across your website in seeking more information to help me gain more understanding in my DNA makeup. I’m African American, and African results from Ancestry are below. The explanation about Benin/Togo DNA is great. I’ll be reading through this website for more insight.

    Benin/Togo 29%
    Nigeria 19%
    Cameroon/Congo 13%
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 9%
    Mali 8%
    African SE Bantu 4%
    African South Central Hunter Gathers 2%
    Senegal 2%

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Felipe,
        I’d like to thank you on this outstanding source for people of the diaspora. For many years now I’ve been studying this site, but as a person of paternal St Lucian heritage, I desired a better statistical break down of the Benin component of St Lucian population.

        You note, rightly, the slave trading patterns will be predominantly French (since St Lucia was a French colony although intermittently). St Lucia, as you know, never imported slaves directly from Africa (Breen is a source): French planters shipped slaves over from Martinique or, alternatively, English speaking planters looked to Barbados for man-power.

        In short, if you had to offer an informed guess, 1, What is the predominant tribal group on the island and 2, What percentage of Mandinka or Upper Guinea slaves would there likely to be (bearing in mind Dalphinis claims, on linguistic evidence, St Lucians are mainly from the Mandinka, and Malian hinterland)?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This was very an awesome read! Iv’e done Ancestry and National Geographic Genome project. I want to do the African Ancestry to hopefully give me more information. My DNA is ALL OVER the place literally! I live in Texas close to the the Louisiana boarder so i’m in that group of African American (Louisiana Creoles).
    22% Benin/Togo
    17% Cameroon/Congo
    7% Ivory Coast/Ghana
    6% Nigeria
    4% Senegal
    2% Mali
    1% African Southeastern Bantu
    <1% African South- Central Hunter Gatherers
    and the rest in Great Britain, Scandinavia, Europe West, Iberian Peninsula, European Jewish, Caucasus, Asia Central, Ireland/Scotland/Wales, Finland/NW Russia, and Native American. My husband is Yoruba so I cant wait for him to take the test.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Also I found a discrepancy. When I did the National Geographic GENO 2.0 it showed 5% East African. They do not pin point countries but regions and none of the countries in that region showed on my Ancestry.com. They do i think claim to go back further in the DNA, so I’m unsure if that has something to do with it.


    • I have no personal experience with National Geographic. But generally speaking i believe that the socalled “East African” label when used in DNA testing should always be critically scrutinized. I am usually very sceptical about the socalled East African scores reported for African Americans and other Afro-Diasporans from the Americas. Because it does not fit well with historical plausibility nor cultural retention.

      If not some fluke in their algorithm or artefact of their reference populations, indeed it most likely represents VERY ancient population migrations across the continent (going back millennia instead of centuries). Something which would also be detected among actual West Africans. Irrelevant therefore from a genealogical perspective (last 500 years or so).

      btw If you get back your results from your husband i would love to include them in my Nigerian AncestryDNA survey:



  9. What a great blog. Please help me take the next steps on finding any of my 3rd 4th or 5th cousins from Africa. I am African American with my highest ancestry dna score coming from Benin/Togo. What other test or websites do you recommend for me to find actual connections to tribes or currently living people in West Africa?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The exact degree of Igbo lineage among African Americans is yet to be determined. But going by both historical and genetic evidence I believe it can already be assumed to be widespread and substantial indeed. I intend to do a blog post comparing the number of Afro-Diasporan DNA matches reported for Igbo’s versus other Nigerians soon. This might give a further insight. See also:

      The Igbo Connection for Virginia & Virginia-Descendants


  10. This website is a godsend! Thank you for all of your hard work. I have tested myself, my mother , my father, my paternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother. I have seen surprising differences in the test which has only pushed me towards more questions. If you are looking for more results to use in your research let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. So I was told that my Nan’s great grandfather was Jamaican, he married a Caucasian English lady in England. They had my Nan’s -grandad and his brothers and sisters. According to my Nan’s brother he used to visit the great aunts and uncles, some of which were from the west-indies. So I’m assuming they married West Indians. So reading this post which is awesome by the way, now explains the fact that my DNA says 2% Benin/Togo and my 4x grt grandfather probably was Jamaican. Sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for sharing your background! Very fascinating how the 2% “Benin/Togo” corresponds with an expected DNA inheritance of 1-3% for your Jamaican ancestor. Have you tried yet searching for your Jamaican or even possibly African-born DNA matches? I have devised a method whereby you can zoom into your “100%” African matches by first scanning all your DNA matches and then filtering them according to ethnic regions in Excel. Here’s the link:

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry

      You might also find this post interesting. It’s about a Dutch woman who discovered she has a 4th great-grandfather from Africa. So about the same generational distance as you! She had her father tested and he scored 4% African. For more details see:

      ROOTS.NL (S1E1) – Dutch woman in search for West African forefather


  12. I am incredibly grateful for all your hard work and taking the time to spread so much knowledge to us in a world we have been deprived of such! I recently returned from Jamaica and EVERYONE there insisted I was Jamaican even when I told them I was American. lol. My Dad’s two brothers and I have recently done ancestry and we all had Benin/Togo as our top match. I don’t know if you are still adding data to your research but I wanted to share that I have >1% Nigerian which seems fairly unique to your findings. Here is my data should you want to include it:

    Benin/Togo 21%
    Cameroon/Congo 13% (Both Uncles only have trace Cameroon/Congo so I assume that’s from my Mother’s side.)
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 9%

    Low Confidence:
    Mali 6%
    Senegal 5%
    Africa Southeast Bantu 4%
    Hunter Gathers 1%
    Nigeria >1%

    Thanks again!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello ML, thanks so much for the heartwarming feedback! Really glad to know you think my blog is useful! I am no longer adding results for my survey. Because most likely an update will be carried out by Ancestry. Which will probably change everyone’s breakdown. At times also drastically so judging from the few updated results I have seen already.

      About the <1% "Nigeria" score it is indeed rather uncommon, however keep in mind it's just a snapshot of how your own DNA compares to the West African samples within Ancestry's Reference Panel. With the upcoming update this amount could very well change. To get more insight on your "Benin/Togo" score I would advise you to search for African matches among your DNA matches. You could very well also have Nigerian DNA matches actually. I have seen this for several people who like you had a minimal "Nigeria" score. For more details on how to perform follow-up research see also this blog post:



  13. Hello Carolyn, a first important clue to the multi-regional African origins for Barbadians can be found in this chart:

    Igbo and AKan lineage is indeed very likely for many Barbadians but in addition they will also have African roots from other places and other peoples. Similar to other West Indians and other parts of the Afro-Diaspora who will almost always be a composite of multiple ancestors hailing mostly from Western, Central and to a minor degree also Southeast Africa.

    I do not yet have much detailed info on Barbados, however by comparing with sources for other parts of the West Indies you will get a good idea of the ethnic possibilities already.


    I intend to eventually add more charts on that page when I update my Anglo-Caribbean AncestryDA survey findings:



  14. I am 99% Caucasian and 1% Benin/Togo. That tells me my African ancestor is five generations,plus or minus, back. I hired Ancestry to see if the could find my African ancestor. No luck. They said this could be a remnant of a much more distant ancestor.
    Is that reasonable??

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Please email me if you need to look at any other results. I am able to trace my family back decades before civil war. With there being no migration from where the ancestors landed in South Carolina, North Carolina , Mississippi and Virginia. It looks based on family lore that our ancestors were here since far before the revolutionary war.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hello FonteFelipe. Happy holidays. I just shared my result with you on AncestryDNA. I’m a confirmed Nigerian from the South West (Yoruba from Ogun State) but my result shows 86% Benin/Togo and only 6% Nigeria! I am very confused and sad about this. What do you make of this? Thanks for for great work on this site. It is much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I went back to look at this post because I have been perusing my DNA matches. I never had high Benin Togo scores, but most of my matches have higher percentages than I do (with the update). Mine went from 11% to 5%. My Cameroon Congo/Southeastern Bantu percentage went way up, from 3% to 23%! I wonder how can we best utilize information from our DNA matches? I was thinking if there was some way to connect the degree of a DNA match and the information from those matches in some way that reveals more about our own ethnicity, even if only on a single region and in spite of borders being created that may have nothing to do with actual ethnic groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ideally I suppose Ancestry should provide a chromosome browser and also inform its customers of the ethnicity associated with shared segments. However the current compare tool also can be quite useful already to at least have an overview of shared regions. These might be more than one, but could already help you to at least rule out others.


    • I’d bet that like me, you’re African is really mostly Nigerian in origin, and the two regions are measuring that. Most of my African matches turnout to be Nigerian despite me having no Nigerian percentage. Your Cameroon, Congo, and Southernern Bantu is likely measuring some Nigerian groups. I’ve found this true with a lot of my matches, too. Ancestry has to get WAY better with their west and southern African regions in particular.

      That said, I’ve had quite a few matches with Bantu people, too. And that’s the unfortunate part of this revision. There is not enough differentiation being made between Bantu peoples, who originated along the Nigerian/Cameroon border and Nigerian ethnic groups to the west of that dividing line. The Bantu began their expansion from this border region over 3,000 years ago. If they can differentiate between the English and the Irish, for instance, Ancestry should be able to differentiate between these people and Nigerians must better than they have.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I really don’t think the percentages mean anything. I think we are all in the same when our Ancestors came from the same region. My family is Jamaican and I was always told our people are from Ghana. Well I received my results and here it is:

    Benin/Togo 47%
    Cameroon/Congo 40%
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 8%
    Nigeria 5%

    I believe the borders that exist now were non-existent back then. Our people migrated and moved and our genes combined. I read above where people say they don’t look like the people of the region and so forth. How can someone tell where they are from and who they’re related to based on looks? I’m glad I know where my ancestors originated. I now look forward to visiting in the near future. Keep up the great research!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi, All my life I have been told I was Anlo Ewe from Ghana but then I took a DNA test and found out that I am 62.3% Nigerian, 25.5% Sierra Leonean, 7% Kenyan, 2.7% and the rest is low confidence. I took a MyHeritage DNA Test


    • Hi Selim,

      MyHeritage is not well equipped to give you a reasonable overview of your regional admixture. And that’s an understatement… because from my experience 23andme and Ancestry are far better in this type of analysis. Even when also these two tests will not give you “100% accurate” results. And this should also not be your expectation because afterall they are “estimates”, given on a best-effort basis. So for now I would just stick with your known background as an Anlo-Ewe from Ghana 😉

      Still with correct interpretation you can still get a great deal of useful information. Although again MyHeritage is pretty bad at regional admixture they offer great tools for analyzing your DNA matches. How many DNA matches have been listed for you? And what are some of the most recurring backgrounds of these matches? Your biggest matches will be most useful for confirming your recent family history.


      • Hi FonteFelipe,

        I got 76 DNA Matches Most of them looked like they had either Yoruba or Ewe passing last names or were African Americans mostly from South Carolina or Louisiana and Mississippi. They were some other interesting ones too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fascinating! You will do your matches in the Afro-Diaspora a great service when you mention your background in your profile on MyHeritage. Of course only if you don’t mind yourself!

          I am sharing with a few Ghanaians on Ancestry, both with Ewe and Akan background. One day I hope to have time enough to analyze their DNA matches and see if there are any noticeable differences in how they will match with particular groups in the Diaspora. From what I have seen sofar both African Americans and West Indians will actually often have DNA matches who are either Ewe or Akan. But I suspect for example that for Brazilians Ewe matches will be much more frequent than Akan matches. To a lesser degree this might also go for many Haitians.


          • That is interesting, I got only one Brazilian match and they appeared to be white/native Brazillian. I’m pretty sure this is through my father since I was told he is related to Francisco Félix de Sousa who was a prominent slave trader in Yoruba, Fon, and Ewe lands.


            • Intriguing! I ‘ve always been very interested in Afro-Brazilians who returned to West Africa in the late 1800’s. They mostly settled in Lagos and Benin I believe, but some also ended up in Ghana. I think they are called Tabom in Ghana?

              About the match it could indeed that the two of you are sharing European DNA. Possibly your European DNA is so minimal that it didn’t get reported by MyHeritage. Still even if it’s only about 1% then it could already result in associated DNA matches. On the other hand from what I have seen many white Brazilians tend to have minor yet still considerable amounts of African DNA, say in the 5-15% range.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s