In 2013 AncestryDNA updated their Ethnicity Estimates to include a very detailed breakdown of West African ancestry. A pioneering initiative when compared with the rather basic regional within-Africa resolution being provided by other DNA testing companies. Obviously 100% accuracy cannot be guaranteed and should also not be expected at this stage. Given the inherent limitations of DNA testing in general and more specifically the restricted availability of African reference populations. See AncestryDNA Regions for a more detailed assessment. Still I find the results very fascinating and insightful for anyone wanting to learn more about their African roots. Here’s a link with more info:

Survey of the African breakdown on AncestryDNA

Since the update I have been collecting AncestryDNA results in a spreadsheet in order to conduct a survey of the African origins being reported by AncestryDNA for African Americans as well as other Afro-descended nationalities. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for an overview of the main statistical findings of my survey. At this moment of writing it contains at least 1,377 results for 34 nationalities, among which 515 are for African Americans. For easier comparison I have recalculated everyone’s original African percentages as mentioned in the Ethnicity Estimates so that they add up to 100%. In other words the scores mentioned in my speadsheet represent fractions of a person’s total African ancestry and not fractions of their entire ancestry. Below is a link to the spreadsheet which contains all the results. Besides a tab for the main statistics there are several other tabs on the bottom of the sheet where the individual results can be found, sorted according to nationality.

These are the links to the blog posts I have written sofar in an attempt to analyze and illuminate the African breakdown for each group:

UPDATE 12-09-2017 

As the name already implies this blog is dedicated to Tracing African Roots. However many if not most Afro-descendants actually also have additional non-African ancestry. And for some people this part of their DNA might also be interesting to explore further. I have therefore started a new survey featuring the AncestryDNA results of persons from all over the world. In order to improve correct interpretation of AncestryDNA’s regions by comparing results with persons from verified backgrounds. These are the links to the blog posts i have written sofar:

UPDATE 10-10-2018

AncestryDNA’s ethnicity estimates have been updated several times now. On this page I am dealing exclusively with AncestryDNA version 2 which was current between September 2013 and September 2018. All matters being discussed on this page are therefore not pertaining to recently updated results (version 3). In my opinion the new version regrettably has been a downgrade rather than providing any meaningful improvement. Which is why I have discontinued my AncestryDNA survey. For more details see:

UPDATE 12-02-2020

AncestryDNA’s ethnicity estimates have been updated again starting in October 2019. This 2019 update has restored most of the major flaws from the previous 2018 update. However I do not think it offers any substantial improvements for the most part. At least not when compared with the original African breakdown from the 2013-2018 version. See this blog post for more detailed discussion:

My AncestryDNA survey remains discontinued therefore. At least when based on regional admixture. I am currently shifting my attention towards DNA matches and also how these may correlate with admixture. See also:

For a short recap of my final survey findings read these blog posts:

UPDATE 23-09-2020

Yet again AncestryDNA’s ethnicity estimates have been updated this Autumn. Three times in a row now! There have been a few positive changes again. Continuing the gradual trend of improvement/recovery, started in 2019. But nothing which takes Ancestry’s African breakdown beyond what was already achieved in its original 2013-2018 version. Especially the lack of genetic communities for West/Central Africa is lamentable. See this blog post for more detailed discussion:

UPDATE 19-09-2022

With this 2022 update for the first time I am inclined to say that Ancestry’s African breakdown has come full circle again for Trans-Atlantic Afro-descendants! After four whole years… To be fair for many Africans (incl. Cape Verdeans) actually Ancestry did already provide clear improvements over their original 2013-2018 version, starting with the 2019 update. However due to their more complex and intricately mixed African origins for most Afro-descendants the updates between 2018 and 2021 have often not been beneficial…

Just for a very quick round up. The 2018 update was the biggest slap in the face because of vanishing “Nigeria” and “Senegal” scores and super inflated “Benin/Togo”, “Cameroon/Congo” and also “Mali” scores. In 2019 Ancestry tried to remedy this but imperfectly so. Causing much confusion because of all the major flipflops. Also this time “Ivory Coast & Ghana” got derailed completely because Ancestry made the ill-advised decision to split this region.

The 2020 and 2021 updates took small steps in improving things but were still leaving intact some of the major imperfections. With “Nigeria” and “Benin/Togo” being slightly overstated and “Ivory Coast/Ghana” being seriously underestimated. Only with this 2022 update it seems Ancestry is finally able again to offer a reasonably close fit for historically plausible regional roots within AfricaDespite remaining shortcomings such an outcome is not something to carelessly brush aside when wanting to Trace African Roots!



In the spreadsheet referenced above i have compiled and recalculated the AncestryDNA results which have kindly been shared with me or otherwise collected by me on the internet from public websites. The greater part of my African American data was gathered on these three threads posted on the 23andme forum and the Ancestry Support Community:

In addition i was also kindly invited by many people on to view their Ethnicity Estimates. I like to extend my gratitude to anyone who participated in these threads as well as anyone who granted me access to their results on Your willingness to contribute to my research has been really valuable to me! I have mainly used acronyms or nicknames in my spreadsheet in order to safeguard everyone’s privacy. If anyone should have second thoughts about being included in the spreadsheet or would like to be renamed, just send me a PM and i will act accordingly.

In order to make the results intercomparable, regardless of non-African admixture, i have scaled the African part of the AncestryDNA breakdown to 100%. The scaling formula i used is very simple and can be verified from within the spreadsheet by clicking on any cell featuring a regional score and then viewing the calculation in the function bar (fx) in the upper left corner. All other Excel formulas i used throughout the sheet and especially in the tab “Stats” can also be verified in this same way.

Basically i applied the following formula: percentage for a given African region divided by percentage of total African amount, as mentioned in the Ethnicity Estimates. For example, someone with a total African amount of 80% and a “Senegal” score of 20% would be entered into my sheet as 20/80 = 25% “Senegal” out of his total African ancestry. The same regional ratio of 25% could be obtained for a person of only minor African descent who according to AncestryDNA scores 4% “Senegal” out of a total African amount of 16% (4/16). In this manner the regional proportions of the African breakdown become instantly visible for everyone and can also be counterchecked with 100% Africans for example.

In order to rule out any entry errors i created an extra column which automatically adds all regional shares up. This column named “Sum” acts as a built-in check as normally it should show 100%. In some cases it still doesn’t precisely add up to 100% however, due to either incomplete or incorrect data. Sometimes it’s also because the original Ethnicity Estimates on AncestryDNA themselves don’t add up to exactly 100% (usually because of the <1% Trace Regions).

Some other features of the spreadsheet:

  • Regions which were reported with the highest amount by AncestryDNA are bolded in green cells. The frequency of these regions being ranked #1 is also mentioned in the tab “Stats”.
  • The column named “∑ Top 2” features the sum of the two biggest regional scores (already scaled). Combining the shares of the two main regions provides a rough measure of how homogenous or rather heterogeneous a person’s African breakdown might be.
  • I have used abbreviations for some of the regions and in some cases i renamed them:
    • “Ghana/Ivc.” = “Ivory Coast/Ghana”
    • “Camr./Congo” = “Cameroon/Congo”
    • “SE Bantu” = “Africa Southeastern Bantu”
    • “Pygmy/San” = “Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers”
    • “North Africa”= “Africa North”
  • In the tab Stats+ i make use of an additional (macro)-regional breakdown into: Upper Guinea, Lower Guinea and Central Africa. This was done in order to comply with what’s common practice in slave trade literature. And also to analyze the regional patterns from a related yet slightly different perspective. It is based on very rough proxies and imprecise delineations. “Central Africa” should be read as also including Bantu speaking ancestry from Southeast Africa. “North Africa” was excluded to enable a more evenhanded comparison with Hispanic Americans and Cape Verdeans.
  • I have also entered additional ancestral details for many individual results. Whenever such information was available and deemed to be relevant. Generally this info is to be found in appropriately named columns either to the far left or far right.

Research goals

My survey consisted out of entering the African breakdown of individual AncestryDNA results according to nationality and also USA state origins. Subsequently group statistics have been calculated and blogposts have been written in an attempt to provide more analysis and context to the data. I basically started this research for two key reasons:

1) Obtaining a better understanding of everyone’s personal results. Generally speaking I find that it’s only by comparing with each other under the same settings that we can derive deeper meaning from our DNA test results. Without any benchmarks so to speak it’s more difficult to get a good grasp of how your personal results might possibly be interpreted and also ultimately how reliable they would be. It is my hope that at the very least the way the African regional amounts have been presented in the spreadsheet has been helpful in adding some more perspective for those who participated.

2) Exploring the regional African origins of people from across the Afro-Diaspora. Attempting to establish how much the AncestryDNA results on a grouplevel can already (despite limitations of sample size) be correlated with whatever is known about the specific regional African roots for each Afro-descended nationality mentioned in my spreadsheet.

During my research I have come across many fascinating findings which possibly might provide profound insights. They are described in more detail in the various blogposts referenced above. With the most comprehensive summary to be found in: Afro-Diaspora AncestryDNA results: A Comparison. One overriding theme has been the sheer regional diversity on display in almost all the African compositions reported by AncestryDNA. Only a few persons and even fewer nationalities showing a clear and consistent pull towards just one single predominant African region. As a consequence it seems fair to state that: when tracing your African roots expect to find ancestors from multiple African regions and also from multiple African ethnic groupsThis essential piece of knowledge has often been obscured by history for many Afro-descendants. Some finding it easier to imagine just one single place in Africa to identify as one’s ancestral homeland. Or just one single African “tribe” they wish to be matched with. In almost all cases this will however prove to be a big misconception. An intricate mix and unique blending of various ancestral lineages from throughout Western, Central  and Southeastern Africa being much more likely. See also:


Going beyond any possible data-entry errors on my part and the inherent limitations of DNA testing (see also AncestryDNA regions) I would like to point out the following:

  • Future updates by AncestryDNA will undoubtedly produce new and hopefully improved data. The analysis performed by AncestryDNA, even when pioneering and already very valuable in my estimation, is only a first rudimentary step in deciphering one’s origins within Africa. The current nine African regions might very well have different ethnic implications for each separate Afro-descended nationality but also in individual cases.
  • I am naturally inclined to seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty. When reviewing the current AncestryDNA results I have preferred to look for whatever informational value may be obtained already from them. Rather than let any imperfections lead to an overhasty dismissal. To me that would be like throwing out the baby with the bathing water. I have nonetheless maintained a critical stance and attempted to point out any inconsistencies or limitations of the data whenever I could.
  • The sample size for most groups seemed robust enough to warrant some further generalizing analysis. Keep in mind i am just offering my personal interpretations in the blogposts i have written. My research findings are not set in stone but rather based on the (limited) information available to me. Also other people might come up with different conclusions based on the same information.
  • For the purpose of my research i have focused on group averages to get a better grip on the underlying patterns. However it should be stressed that individual variation is a given and it’s not my intention to deny it in any way. Every one in my spreadsheet will have unique family trees including lineages from various parts of Africa. Because of random inheritance some of this regional ancestry might not even get expressed in DNA markers detected by AncestryDNA. Especially for people of minor African descent. Whichever regional ancestry is being reported will often be showing up as either more or less prominent than the group averages. This is only natural.
  • Determining the largest regional components, on average, for each Afro-descended nationality has been a primary research effort. As they can be considered to have the highest reliability at this stage and might also be confirmed independently by historical sources. Some regions, especially when turning up as Trace Regions, will have been termed by me as  “minor” or even “insignificant”. But of course this is only strictly relatively speaking. The actual ancestors behind single-digit regional percentages are not of minor importance themselves.  They might still evoke some personal interest for anyone who receives the results. I naturally respect this. Still I also think it’s prudent to at least acknowledge the predominant ancestral components you’re made up of. As the people associated with these greater parts of your ancestry will have contributed the most to who you are, at least genetically speaking.
  • During my research up till now I have in no way been affiliated with I have been intrigued from the start by the African regional specification provided by AncestryDNA. I personally find it more insightful than anything presently on offer by both commercial DNA testing companies as well as any thirdparty analysis such as available on Ged-Match.

Main Findings

For more detailed analysis of this data see the blogposts referenced above or also the dropdown menu below AncestryDNA. For an up-to-date overview of my ongoing survey see:

***(click to enlarge)

AFricans &amp; Diasporans

53 thoughts on “AncestryDNA

  1. Can you help me interpret my DNA findings ? Nigeria 24%- Senegal 16% – Benin/Tongo14%-Mali 13%-African southeastern Bantu10%-Ivory coast/Ghana 2%-Africa South Central 2%-Cameroon/Congo1%- Native American 1% -Asia Central 1%-Ireland 8%- Scandinavia 4% -Europe West 3% – Iberian Peninsula 1% These findings are a mystery to me…having been told much of my life I had much more Native American blood than I’ve seen on this chart & French blood…looking Indian so much so people always ask me where I’m from ?! What am I ? African American ?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Toni, thank you for your message and congratulations on your results! To be frank to me your DNA breakdown is perfectly recognizable as being African American as it fits in very nicely within the variation i have observed during my survey of 350 African American results. Unless either one of your parents or one of your grandparents is not African American i would say there is no reason at all to assume you are anything else but African American!

      As your results already demonstrate you are firstmost a fusion of several ethnic/regional origins within Africa and also non-African ones. As is the case for practically all African Americans. Who are all individually descended from most likely dozens if not hundreds of African born ancestors who were forcibly relocated to the US. Which makes perfect sense given the history of African Americans as a distinct population within its own right. What is striking especially is the great deal of mobility as well as blending of various African ethnic groups which must have taken place across the generations within the USA. This tends to complicate getting a clearer picture however it is also fundamental part of the African American experience. For more details see also:

      African American AncestryDNA results
      Fictional Family Tree incl. African Born Ancestors

      Sofar i have not delved too much into the non-African origins of African Americans. However i intend to devote a blogpost to the ethnicity estimates for African Americans as reported by AncestryDNA in its entirety eventually. So keep an eye out on that. I can already say that your assumptions about having considerable Native American ancestry and the actual amount being rather minimal is a very common theme for Americans who get their DNA tested.

      As i have mentioned throughout my blog AncestryDNA’s socalled “Ethnicty Estimates” can provide very valuable insight indeed but only within a (sketchy) regional framework. You will need additional context/info to pinpoint any specific ethnic details or also combine with other DNA results, especially any African matches you might have.

      If you are also interested in getting more clarity on your African origins i would advise you to regularly do a search among your DNA matches. You can either carefully browse through each of your pages and look for any matches which seem “African” because of their profile names or the preview of their ethnicity estmates being 100% African. Another way is to search for birth location and type in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cameroon, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Senegal etc. etc. The number of Africans who are taking AncestryDNA tests is small but steadily growing. So the chances of eventually finding an African match will increase with time. Keep in mind though that finding an African match doesn’t per se mean you or your MRCA (most recent common ancestor) share the same ethnic origin as your match. Without any paper trail there will always be several ancestral scenarios which may be valid.


  2. Hi! Your blog is fascinating, thank you for sharing.

    I just received my DNA results, could you help me interpret them?

    I was born in Zimbabwe to a white ancestral-European mother (so my largest majority is 25% Ireland and 20% Scandinavia) but a mixed tribal Zimbabwean (Shona), English and Cape Malay (or so we thought) father.

    My results are Africa 18% – SE Bantu 9%, South-central hunter gatherers 5%, trace regions of 4% (2% Senegal, 1% Mali and under 1% Cameroon/Congo and Benin/Togo) and Asia 11% – Asia South 9% and trace regions 2%. Would this be consistent with a native Zimbabwean Shona great grandmother, and a possible South Asian (likely India from the Pashtun and Gujarat regions after reading your blog) migration to South/East Africa from another ancestor?

    Although looks are by no means indicative of ancestry – I’ve never looked north/west European except for my skin tone, I was surprised at the huge European genetic heritage as I’m always mistaken for Middle Eastern, Eastern European or even Mediterranean.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Siani, thank you for your comment. You have a very fascinating background. I would love to view your complete results in order to give you a more detailed assessment.

      In order to share your ethnicity estimates please follow these steps:

      – Sign in to
      – 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

      Right now i can already say that the breakdown of your non-European regions is very much in line with what i have observed sofar for 3 South African Coloureds. Especially the combination of predominant Southeastern Bantu + SC Hunter-Gatherers (which is bound to be Khoisan) + South Asian. Screenshots of their results can be seen on this new page i recently published:

      Central & Southern African AncestryDNA results

      If you are okay with it i would actually really appreciate it if i could also include a screenshot of your results as well as i think they would be very educational for others to see.


      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kenzy,

      Without any further context I cannot make this call. Really the only thing I can say is that your results are indeed in line with the updated results of Haitians but in fact also those for African Americans and other West Indians. I take it your results were obtained on Ancestry after their most recent update, last September. This page is however based on AncestryDNA results from the previous version (2013-2018). Frankly I think this update has NOT been an improvement in regards to the African breakdown. Instead regrettably it might lead to less insight into the African regional roots of Afro-descendants and actual Africans. I have blogged about it in more detail over here:

      Is there any specific reason you are suspecting a Haitian background? Instead of looking at regional admixture a better strategy might be to have a closer look into your DNA matches and try to find any Haitian ones and figure out the connection. Keep in mind that you might have DNA matches from many countries though and for genealogical purposes only the close DNA matches (>20cM, 4th cousins or closer) tend to be useful.

      Were you assigned to the migration called “African Caribbeans”? If so this will make it easier to single out your Haitian DNA matches by using the regional filter on your DNA matches page.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I see, well in that case your DNA matches should definitely provide more insight. Combined with building up your family tree on your grandmother’s side. Best of luck in figuring out the connection!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Felipe,

    I found an African match on AncestryDNA who is 44 percent Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu, 42 percent Benin Togo, 9 percent Ivory Coast Ghana, 3 percent percent Mali, 1 percent Nigeria, 1 percent Norway. If you had to guess this person’s ethnicity or place of origin, what would you say?


    • Hi Taylor well without any extra clues given that’s kind of tricky. Which is why I really find Ancestry’s updated African breakdown a degrade. Because it used be so much easier just a year ago..

      Could be several countries this person is from. Plus of course it might also be that his parents are from two different countries. Given the 1% Norway perhaps also Sierra Leonean Krio or Americo Liberian? Either way getting contact with this match will give you the best asnwer 😉


    • If they have their name in their profile, that also makes it much easier since, a surname can usually be a pretty good hint.

      As Fonte said, with Ancestry’s latest update, there is literally no way to even generally estimate regional results. I guess given that these two major regions are pretty evenly split, You could rule out far West Africa with the exception of Sierra Leone Creoles/Americo-Liberians, and Southern Africa. I’d probably guess the match is Nigerian (with a distant European ancestor), and if not that, somewhere in betwee Togo and Cameroon since Ghana/Ivory Coast people don’t generally show that high of a Cameroon/Congo score. But other than that, this would be a complete guess.


      • Thanks to both of you guys Felipe and Damon,

        I found another African match with a Portuguese last name. Apparently he speaks English, French, and Portuguese. He is 57 percent Mali and 43 percent Senegal. What do you guys think

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nice! Given his surname and regional scores quite likely to be from Guiné Bissau. How much shared DNA do you have with this match?


            • Is this a joke I was missing? I was asking the surname of the first person he mentioned with the nearly-split Cameroon/Congo and Benin/Togo score.


  4. He’s my dad’s match and they share 9 CM. Any idea what his ethnic group may be and what’s historically plausible for African Americans.

    By the way, I have found numerous African matches (especially through my dad and grandmother who share more DNA with them than me). These are all individuals 100 percent African and I have reached out and heard from some. I have five Igbo matches, one Yoruba match, one half Yoruba half AfroLatin match, one Edo match, one Tikar of Cameroon match, 2 Congo matches (one Yembe and one Mongo), 3 Liberian matches (one of who has two percent European but the others are purely African according to Ancestry), one Rwandan match, and apparently this match from Guinea Bissau. While I know that my match may not be the same ethnicity as my ancestor, I think it’s quite likely for at least some cases. Especially Igbo.

    By the way, what do you think of these African matches whose origin I don’t know. His username is Mpenzi and he is 54 percent Cameroon Congo and Southern Bantu, 45 percent East Africa, and 1 percent Mali.
    The second’s last name is Kuweza. He is 41 percent Cameroon Congo and Southern Bantu, 26 percent Benin Togo, 14 percent Mali, 12 percent Ivory Coast Ghana, 3 percent Nigeria, 3 percent Senegal, and 1 percent Native American (perhaps he’s mixed?). I don’t have Native American so I’m sure we’re related through an African ancestor. He and my grandma share 19 cm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because of his Portuguese surname you cannot really deduce his ethnic group. However see this page for maps showing the major ethnic groups in Guinea Bissau.

      The Mandinga and Fula are among the biggest ethnic groups in Guinea Bissau and most likely your MRCA with your match might also hail from these groups. Also keeping in mind that these groups have migrated alot within the area and also intermarried with other ethnic groups. And therefore just because your match is from Guinea Bissau it doesn’t contradict that your own ancestor might have been from modernday Gambia, Senegal or Guinea Conakry.

      From what i’ve read direct slave trade between Guinea Bissau and the USA was quite uncommon. Although at times British slave traders operating from either Gambia or Siera Leone did purchase enslaved captives in Guinea Bissau ports (which were usually only visited by Portuguese). Various possibilities therefore. I once blogged about the potential overlap in ethnic origins for Cape Verdeans and African Americans you might find useful

      Good job on finding all those matches! I agree that especially for Igbo matches the odds of a MRCA being the same ethnicity will be quite high. Although this will indeed not always be the case.

      I use this website for checking frequency of surnames:

      Mpenzi appears to be predominant in particular in the DRC Congo. Going by his breakdown he is very likely to be from the eastern part though.
      Kuweza again seems to be a Congolese name but also used in surrounding countries. His breakdown does not look like one for a fully Central African person though. Although generally speaking a degrade actually for Central Africans Ancestry’s update was quite good (although also giving rather bland results, because the “Hunter-Gatherer” scores disappeared). So yes I do also think this person is mixed. Keeping in mind also that African surnames are at times adopted by AFro-Diasporans because of marriage or as a statement of Afro-pride.


  5. Felipe,

    I also found one African match with the last name Ndungu. Apparently it’s a name mostly found in Kenya but some in the DRC. He’s 64 percent East African, 22 percent Cameron, Congo, and the Southern Bantu peoples, 13 percent Africa Southcentral Hunter Gatherers, and 1 percent Nigerian. Maybe he is Kenyan but I didn’t know slaves were taken from that part of East Africa? What do you think is plausible historically? I’ve also found a Rwandan match but didn’t know slaves were taken from there either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes he appears to be Kenyan indeed! Interesting also combined with the Rwandan match. What is the shared DNA amount with both matches? Are they showing up also for your family?

      Direct slave trade between Kenya/Rwanda and the Americas was indeed extremely rare. However both countries, especially Kenya would have been covered by the Swahili slave trade circuit. I have seen several AA’s as well as other people from the Trans-Atlantic Diaspora and even Cape Verdeans receiving such East African matches. Generally speaking I feel it is best to be cautious to rule out any false positives. As IBS or very generic population matches (IBP) might be more rampant than many people realize. Also the possibility & extent of inter-ethnic unions taking place within Africa is often not taken into consideration. As well as the impact of recent or even ancient migrations across the continent. Implying that the MRCA for any given match might actually not be of the same background as your DNA match.

      In my survey of African DNA matches for 50 Cape Verdeans I also came across a few puzzling East AFrican matches. However most of them turned out to be not IBD or small-sized. See section 4 and esp. note 28 for much more detailed discussion:


      • I share 7 cm with the Kenyan match and I share 8 cm with the Rwandan match. They didn’t show up for my dad or maternal grandma but showed up for me. That said I believe I inherited East African ancestry from my grandad. I showed up 1 percent East African on Ancestry’s new update when my maternal grandma and dad didn’t. My maternal grandfather passed and my mom hasn’t taken it yet. I assumed these matches validated his East African ancestry (although I don’t know how East Africans other than Malagasay people got to the Us.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I see, that’s not really a convincing segment size. But it could be that the shared DNA amount will be bigger on Gedmatch. Getting your mother tested would be ideal to see if it’s really IBD and rule out any false positive!

          I remember you had a noteworthy Southern East African score of 2% on 23andme right? That’s quite indicative already and also combined with these matches. The 1% “East African” on Ancestry is most likely also indicative of Southeast African DNA.

          Again the nationality/ethnicity of your matches might not be the same as your actual MRCA, who might also be from Mozambique or eastern DRC Congo, just to name two possibilities. However in case they DO happen to be from either Kenya or Rwanda then you’re dealing with the very rare instance of when Swahili captives were brought over to the USA. At least one documented voyage known to have departed from Zanzibar and embarking in South Carolina. But this was rather late in time after the 1800’s if i’m not mistaken. Consult the slavevoyages database for more details. Or also scroll down to note 1 on this page:


          • Thanks Felipe,

            Yep you’re right I am 2.0 percent Southern East African on 23andme. I am also 0.7 percent Filipino and Austronesian (and my dad is 1.5 percent Filipino and Austronesian although less Southern East African than me. I am already very confident I have Malagasay roots but you make a good point about Mozambique and Malawi (even though they might be less plausible since I’m African American. Then again these East African matches I find are more likely tied to Mozambique or the Congo like you said assuming they’re not false positives. I’m 33.2 percent Nigerian (which the five Igbo, two Yoruba, and one Edo match supports). My three Liberian matches support my 17.1 percent Ghanaian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean on 23andme. They were found on my dad’s side who was 19.8 percent Ghanaian, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean. I’m not sure of which tribal groups are most likely or if I’m related to one African American who happened to settle there. Two of the three are purely African though and one of those two is from Maryland, Liberia apparently. I was 7.6 percent Senegambian and Guinean (my dad has the match from Guinea-Bissau and my grandmother has a match I know is a Fula from Gambia). My grandmother was someone who had a score of 23 percent Mali on Ancestry’s old update although Senegal didn’t show up for her at all interestingly. I am 14.3 percent Angolan/Congolese while my dad is only 7.2 percent. I have found three Congolese matches through her (one who is Mongo tribe, one Yembe although he explained Yembe isn’t a tribe but a group predicated upon shared spiritual beliefs, and one is unknown). I don’t know which Congolese groups were most taken but I know I have a strong Central African connection through my grandmother. She was 20 percent Cameroon/Congo on Ancestry’s last test while my dad was only 4 percent. I was 20 percent like her. Through my maternal grandfather, I’ve found the East African matches I told you about and a Tikar match I shared 14 cm with. I assume my grandfather had to also have a high Cameroon/Congo score for Ancestry’s old results to pull up my dad’s very low score. So while I know i can’t definitely say which tribal groups I descend from (although I’m most confident about the Igbo and I’m descended from Early Virginian African Americans) as well as the Malagasay (which the southeast Asian for me and my dad pretty much proves), I feel good saying I have ancestry from what was then the windward coast (Liberia), senegambia, West-Central Africa, and Southeast Africa. I feel the results and matches also show that my mom has much more Central African than my dad while he has much more ancestry from places like the Windward Coast. I found Igbo matches on both sides of my family. Something perplexing is that even though my dad has more Southeast Asian than me (1.5 percent), he has less southeast African (1.5 percent) than myself who has 2 percent. I would think they would go hand and hand. This also means my mom’s Southeast African score is likely to be over 2 percent for 23andme. So maybe there’s a Mozambique/non Malagasay connection through my mother. My Southeast Asians percentage seems to have come all through my dad. By the way, thanks for reading this and being so patient. I’m the family genealogist and they know how helpful you’ve been to me and the black community as a whole.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You’re more than welcome! I think it is very impressive how much you have already achieved in your research! From my experience being inquisitive, open-minded as well as patient is key to uncovering meaningful connections. I think you are doing very well on all those fronts.


          • Just my opinion, but if an African American scores East African at that low a level without any other kind of paper record to show a connection, I’d just default to assuming it’s probably from some Bantu mixing. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe 1% & 2% isn’t as far back as I’m imagining it is.

            Also, I’d tell Taylor it’s never safe to assume about which parent any of these distant matches come from given how even much more closely you can have siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles major regions listed that you don’t have and vice versa. For instance, I know through records that my fairly significant German ancestry comes through my maternal side, but my maternal aunt doesn’t have ANY of it in her test.


  6. Felipe,

    What are some good ways I can tell if each individual match is IBS or not. I have matches ranging from 6 cm to 14 cm.


  7. Felipe,

    Would you say Gedmatch is better than AncestryDNA when it comes to having more IBD matches and less IBS matches. Some of those matches under 10 cm on Gedmatch do show me the chromosome I and my matches share and most of the shared segments register as significant. Is that enough to confirm IBD or no?


    • Well I personally prefer a conservative approach to rule out false positives as much as possible. In order to focus on the most plausible matches as these might be most promising for further investigation. This is however my own research preference. Strictly speaking IBD matches are to be confirmed by also showing up for either one of your parents or else one of your elder relatives. But even then you might still be dealing with a so-called population match (IBP), which is due to very ancient shared ancestry rather than anything meaningful from a genealogical perspective (last 500 years or so).

      Ancestry applies a filter (Timber) to reduce the likelihood of such population matches. This results in fewer matches and also the size of shared DNA segments is not always reported to the fullest. On Gedmatch you do not have this issue because you are allowed to set the threshold yourself. Many people prefer this. Also indeed because Gedmatch offers many advanced tools not provided by Ancestry. Although personally I imagine that without very careful analysis people may be tempted to overestimate the validness of many of their matches. See also:

      if two people have identical DNA, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they inherited it from a recent shared ancestor. Pieces of DNA could be identical between two people because they are of the same ethnicity or population — meaning that they (and many others from that same population) share DNA that they inherited from a distant ancestor who lived much longer ago.”


  8. That makes sense to me. Perhaps I shouldn’t get so hung up on finding the ethnic group. I’ve thought about testing with African Ancestry, but some have told me it doesn’t use up to date science when compared with Ancestry and 23andme (although this may not be true) and others say it’s great, but limited (only tests one line). Some of the African matches I told you about match my dad or maternal grandmother, but at 6, 7, or 8 cm so even if I was related, it probably wouldn’t show up. I need to test my mom for a bit more clarity. In terms of ethnic group, the only ones I feel extremely confident about saying after testing with you are Igbo and Malagasay (the first because the Igbo were extremely well documented in Virginia and I have deep Virginia roots according to ancestry, I also have five Igbo matches so the probability is simply higher). The other is Malagasay given my high percentage of East African relative to other African Americans (which registered as 1 percent on Ancestry and 2 percent on 23andMe). In addition, with my beta results 23andme has me at 0.7 percent Southeast Asian (even at 90 percent threshold) and my dad has 1.6 percent. That Southeast Asian virtually confirms Malagasay ancestry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How’s it going Felipe. I had two questions. The first is regarding a match and whether it’s IBS or IBD. I matched with a Tikar African (8.6 cm( but my dad did not. However, two of his cousins also matched with the African. Is it likely it’s IBS or IBD.
      Secondly, I’m 20.9 percent Ghanaian, Sierra Leonean, and Liberian according to 23andme. In Ancestry’s old update I was 20 percent Ghana/Ivory Coast. Ancestry has told me that I have ancestral connections to both early African Americans in South Carolina. Given my background and results, would you say Akan, Mende, or Kru ancestry is most likely? I know for Jamaicans it would be a strong confirmation of Akan ancestry but I wasn’t sure to what extent did African Americans have a strong Akan connection or us an ancestral connections with Sierra Leone or Liberia most likely?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Taylor,

        I can’t really make that call based on the info you have right now. I would advise you to contact your Tikar match and ask him to upload to Gedmatch. And make sure your father’s cousins do as well. That way you will be able to analyze the shared DNA segments between the 4 of you and also hopefully triangulate. See this link:

        About the likelihood of Akan lineage for people with a SC background check this blog post where i go into that in greater detail:

        Basically all three ancestral options (Akan, Sierra Leone and Liberia) are perfectly plausible. Direct slave trade with the Gold Coast was quite substantial actually, even if not most significant. See chart below where a proportion of about 13% is mentioned. But in addition also early inter-colonial trade with especially Barbados might have brought over people from the Gold Coast into South Carolina.


  9. That’s great Felipe. I tried triangulating with my Tikar match and my Congolese and Yoruba match. For the Tikar match, I shared the same part of chromosome 12 with my match but my dad didn’t while my dad’s cousin matched the Tikar at the same part of chromosome 12, but me and my dad’s cousin matched on a different chromosome. Regarding my dad’s Yoruba match, my dad and he matched at the same chromosome but none of my dad’s cousins matched at the same chromosome and all of their shared matches matched at different chromosomes to both my dad and the Yoruba.
    For my grandma’s purely Congolese match, my grandma, my grandma’s third cousin, and the Congolese match all matched at the same part of chromosome 20. So would that be triangulated


  10. That’s great Felipe. I tried triangulating with my Tikar match and my Congolese and Yoruba match. For the Tikar match, I shared the same part of chromosome 12 with my match but my dad didn’t while my dad’s cousin matched the Tikar at the same part of chromosome 12, but me and my dad’s cousin matched on a different chromosome. Regarding my dad’s Yoruba match, my dad and he matched at the same chromosome but none of my dad’s cousins matched at the same chromosome and all of their shared matches matched at different chromosomes to both my dad and the Yoruba.
    For my grandma’s purely Congolese match, my grandma, my grandma’s third cousin, and the Congolese match all matched at the same part of chromosome 20. So would that be triangulated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great work! Have you already figured out how your grandmother and her third cousin are related? Their common ancestor is very likely to be related to their Congolese match as well.


  11. Felipe,

    Everyone’s results updated. What are your thoughts? Do you intend to blog about it? According to the new update I’m 46% Nigerian, 32% Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu peoples, 6 percent Benin Togo, 4 percent Mali, 1 percent Ghana/Ivory Coast, 2 percent Senegal, 4 percent Irish, Scottish, and Wales, 2 percent Norway, 1 percent Portugal, 1 percent Great Britain, and 1 percent Eastern Bantu peoples.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Felipe,

    I was looking at some of my African matches and here are some of my thoughts. Some may be incorrect, but I wanted to share them.
    1. It is very predicative of Nigerian ancestry. In fact this may be Ancestry’s most accurate in terms of Nigeria.
    2. Ghana’s accuracy seems to definitely be decreased. A lot of Ghana seems to show up as Benin/Togo followed by Nigeria and Mali.
    3. It is great at detecting Upper Guinean ancestry. I have a match from Guinea Bissau and a match from Gambia and one was 100 percent and the other was nearly 100 percent Mali or Senegal.
    4. Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu peoples is very good now when it comes to predicting Central African ancestry.
    5. I have a match from Sierra Leone and they were mostly Mali. Most of Sierra Leonean ancestry seems to be converted by Malian then Ghana perhaps. I remember you speculating about Mali results signaling Sierra Leonean ancestry.
    6. My dad is 1.7 percent Southeast Asian (Malagasay most likely) and Ancestry has him at 1 percent Filipino and 1 percent Southeast Asian. So pretty consistent.
    7. I’m at 2.6 percent Southeast Bantu on 23andme and 1 percent Eastern Bantu peoples (which I notice isn’t showing with many African Americans in this update. Could be a more accurate prediction of East African. I would say it’s Malagasay but it doesn’t show in my dad (haven’t tested my mom).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Here are my new results with the previous version in parentheses:

    Nigeria: 30% (0%)
    England, Wales & Northwestern Europe: 17% (26%)
    Cameroon, Congo & Southern Bantu People: 14% (21%)
    Germanic Europe: 13% (7%)
    Mali: 9% (5%)
    Benin & Togo 7% (29%)
    Norway: 3% (2%)
    Ghana: 2%
    Ireland & Scotland 2% (1%)
    Eastern Europe & Russia: 2% (0%)
    Senegal: 1% (0%)

    I’ve found this version to be more accurate for my African ancestry, but the European results are now back to being more mixed than what I’m aware of. I feel like it’s maybe overestimating my German ancestry at the expense of my Britsh ancestry, though maybe not by much. More confusing is that my father and his mother lost their Baltic region (1% & 2% respectively in the previous update) while I seem to have gained Eastern Europe & Russia out of nowhere. Kind of curious if this is picking up actual Slavic ancestry directly from that region, or maybe vestigial Slavic ancestry via Germany that I’m not aware of. My father lost his 2% France, and instead picked up 2% Portugal, while I lost my 1% Spain. Seems like we have some Southwestern European ancestry, but Ancestry isn’t quite sure where it’s from it how I interpret that change. Finally, my father and grandmother retain their minimal Native American ancestry (1%), and my grandmother also retains her minimal Italian ancestry (1%).

    Anyway, since this is a blog about African ancestry, Ancestry finally has gotten the Nigerian imprint in the diaspora more accurate, I think. My 30% Nigeria matches up better with my 32% Nigeria on MyHeritage, and regionally it seems to still be showing I’m more weighted towards West Africa (Senegal, Mali, Ghana, & Benin/Togo) than West Central Africa (Cameroon, Congo & Southern Bantu People). And the regions for Africans seem to be more predictative in general with some big exceptions (Ghana).

    But outside of Nigeria, Senegal and Bantus, at least for the diaspora, the other regions still seem to be a bit of a mess.


  14. Have you had time to review the most recent AncestryDNA (11/2019) update?

    I myself received it early in October, I believe, but it seems to be fully (or close) rolled out now.

    I’m of Mexican descent and interested to see what your review of the data shows regarding the Senegal/Mali areas as it relates to Mexicans.

    This is the second update (third interpretation) of my results and there seems to be confusion or ambiguity regarding my West African (Senegal/Mali) lineage.

    Ancestry’s interpretation of my West African results have jumped all over the place from splitting it up between Senegal and Mali, to eliminating the Senegal region and only showing Mali, to eliminating the Mali region and only showing Senegal.

    I would like to get definitive confirmation (as much as possible, anyway) as to where my West African ancestors came from.

    Does your data show, one way or the other, which ethnic group from the Senegal region (Wolof, Fula, Serer, etc.) is more likely to be the origin point for those who were brought to Mexico?

    My results also show some “Cameroon, Congo & Southern Bantu” lineage and, THANKS TO YOUR SITE, I’m confident that it refers to Angolan lineage. Now I’m just waiting for Ancestry to dedicate a region strictly to “Angola” and hopefully be able to further delineate the Ovimbundu and Ambundu ethnic groups in North/South Angola, respectively.

    Thanks. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for your comment! I will shortly publish my thoughts about Ancestry’s latest update. I will then also take into consideration how it has worked out for Mexicans and other Afro-descended people across the Americas, based on a small but comprehensive survey. Aside from also performing a before & after analysis for African DNA testers.

      Next year I intend to delve even deeper into the African origins of Mexicans and other Hispanic Americans. In particular in regards with their Upper Guinean founding effect which is especially prevalent among Mexicans. On Ancestry it can be measured by the combination of “Senegal” + “Mali”. The country name labeling is not to be taken too literally. As it is more so an indication of generic DNA found throughout the Upper Guinean area. See also this recent blog post:

      The various ethnic origins associated with this part of Mexican DNA I believe are pretty much the same as for Cape Verdeans. Although perhaps in somewhat different proportions. In 2015 I blogged about this in greater detail in section 2 & 3 of this post:

      Latin American AncestryDNA results (2013-2018)

      It contains several tables describing the documented ethnic origins of Upper Guinean captives in Mexico. Actually because these captives were usually routed by way of Cape Verde in the 1500’s and also ended up in other parts of Latin America, it will also be relevant to look into the preserved data of other countries (within the same time frame of the 1500’s!). See these pages:

      Angolan and other wise Central African lineage indeed also forms a significant component of the African ancestry for Mexicans. In fact even when usually quite diluted and minor the African breakdown for Mexicans tends to be very distinctive because it will be predominantly or even completely a combination of only Upper Guinean and Central African DNA. While the Lower Guinean part is usually minimal, unlike most other parts of the Afro-Diaspora. This is to be explained by Mexico’s unique involvement with Trans Atlantic Slave Trade which was mostly restricted to the 1500’s and 1600’s, while geographically sharply focused on Upper Guinea & Angola.

      I would like to get definitive confirmation (as much as possible, anyway) as to where my West African ancestors came from.”

      I cannot give you a conclusive specification of your West African ancestry. However I do think that with correct interpretation and by combining also with your African DNA matches you can get a much better indication of where most of your African ancestry may have come from. And also zoom into more specific places/ethnic groups at times.

      Actually I am offering a new service which you might be interested in. Whereby I will scan and filter all of your matches on in order to find your African DNA cousins! As well as giving you my best shot at correlating this info with your ethnicity estimates. For more details see:


    • Hey J. good to hear from you again! Yeah it looks like they finally restored “Ivory Coast/Ghana”. This is good in itself but it took them 4 damn years… haha! I’m gonna do a blog post about this shortly. Overall I’m very disappointed because Ancestry is still not doing genetic communities for West Africa (based on shared DNA matches). Even when 23andme is demonstrating that this is possible already..


      • Please holla back when your post is out 👍🏿 hopefully the genetic communities from WA will come next year, they made a few progress they now have chromosome painters like their competitors


        • I’m aiming for nex weekend but don’t pin me on it 😉 Yeah there have been a few bright spots. How are you liking the new ethnity inheritance tool? Should also be useful for your mother. It’s prety much spot on for myself! I find this tool works best when your parents do not have that much overlapping genetics.


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