African Results

I have always believed when it comes to DNA testing and “admixture” predictions (a.k.a. BGA or biogeographical testing) the proof of the pudding is when people who are “100%” from one particular ethnic background take the test. See how well their ancestry is being predicted or described and that already tells you a lot what you can expect for yourself 😉

On this page I will be posting the AncestryDNA results for Africans with confirmed ethnic background(s) within Africa. Unlike for Afro-Diasporans in the Americas or elsewhere these results can therefore be verified with known genealogy. This should be insightful on how reliable/predictive the various AncestryDNA regions can be and also how they might be interpreted.

Some results might appear to be “off” at first look for those not accustomed to how AncestryDNA or DNA testing in general works. Therefore please keep in mind the following disclaimers (for a more detailed discussion see the AncestryDNA Regions page):

  • DON’T take the labeling of the regions too literally. The regional scores merely signal close genetic similarity to samples taken from the countries/regions after which they get named. They are not per se indicative of actual recent origins from those countries/regions. They could also imply very ancient ancestral connections (going back hundreds or even thousands of years) due to either migrations or shared origins.
  •  AncestryDNA is NOT meant to be taken as anything definite or final nor is it meant to be a substitute for your family tree. Rather it may be seen as a valuable starting point for exploring how your ancestry could be described regionally speaking.

The number of Africans on AncestryDNA used to be small but fortunately it has been increasing rapidly. Below some of their results are being featured. You can also see their breakdown in my spreadsheet via these links:

For other African AncestryDNA results see these pages:

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NAIJA ETHNIC DIVERSITY

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  • West African results (under preparation)

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GHANA (Ewe from Peki/Volta region)

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BENIN1

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This is a very insightful even if perhaps counterintuitive breakdown for a Ghanaian person. The predominant score is afterall “Benin/Togo” combined with a smaller but still considerable proportion of “Ivory Coast/Ghana”. The socalled “Benin/Togo” region has been reported very frequently and also with high scores among African Americans and also West Indians. Often surprisingly so. I have no complete certainty about the ethnic background of the person whose DNA results are being shown above. However judging from his name and his family’s location in the Volta region of Ghana, nearby the Togolese border. And more specifically their hometown being Peki, a traditional Ewe state, this person could very well be an Ewe, an ethnic group living in eastern Ghana as well as southern Togo (see also this map).

If so this result could be very illustrative of how the country name labeling by AncestryDNA should not be taken as gospel. Almost all African countries have been colonial creations with borders cutting right through the homelands of ethnic groups. Also very closely related ethnic groups can often be found on both sides of the border. This is also the case for the Ewe people and the greater language group of the Gbe people they belong to. Also especially Togo and Benin have very artificially drawn borders (see Lower Guinea for more details).

To be sure valuable information can still be be extracted from this result. Just as long as you are aware of the relevant context! Actually Ancestry.com does a great job at describing this inevitable overlap across manmade borders by way of the additional information they provide when you click on each region featured in the Ethnicity Estimates (see also AncestryDNA Regions). However some people might not always be inclined to read the small print 😉 For more analysis and background information see:

GHANA (Akan)

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GHANA1

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The socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana” region is capable of providing very accurate predictions of Akan ancestry. This is convincingly demonstrated in the screenshot above. Such a predominant score for just one single region is quite unique from what i have observed sofar, even among African results. This person of Akan background is being described as practically 100%  “Ivory Coast/Ghana” if you ignore the miniscule Trace regions. Which is just what you would expect, even when such genetic statements are usually more complicated. It is important to realize that each of the nine African AncestryDNA regions have different predictive strenghts. Because of limitations in available sampling, differences in ethnic homogeneity found in each African region, distinctive population structure, overlap with other regions because of ancient migrations etc.etc. Especially the contrast with the “Nigeria” region is striking. Because of a greater genetic diversity found among Nigerians it turns out that additional regions (above trace level) are needed to describe their DNA, in particular “Benin/Togo” and “Cameroon/Congo”. See also this separate page featuring:

Even so, the socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana” region also detects other types of ancestral origins from further west, beyond the Ivory Coast, into Liberia and even Sierra Leone. Especially for African Americans ancestral connections with Liberia and Sierra Leone would actually be much more likely than Ivorian ancestry, going by the Slave Voyages Database (see also this chart). Confusingly this is not mentioned by Ancestry.com themselves in their regional descriptions. However the results of an Ivorian (of mainly Akan background) as well as a Liberian and two Sierra Leoneans prove otherwise. I will post these results directly below. Judging from the Afro-Diasporan results again this region seems quite predictive and consistent. Jamaicans and other Anglo-Caribbeans are scoring the highest for “Ivory Coast/Ghana” followed by African Americans while it is less noticeable among Hispanic & French Caribbeans, in line with known slave trade history. See this chart and also:

IVORY COAST (7/8 AkanMalinké & 1/8 Krio from Sierra Leone/Gambia)

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CIV

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Judging from this 1 individual result the “Ivory Coast/Ghana” category seems to be VERY predictive also for someone of Ivorian descent! Just like the person from Ghana above this Ivorian is mainly of Akan descent, but not completely. The breakdown mentions 83% for “Ivory Coast/Ghana” but according to the range given it could be as high as 94%. Ancestry.com performs 40 separate estimates for each region and 83% would be the average of these 40 runs. 83% is also pretty much the same as the 86% scored by the “typical native” from Ivory Coast/Ghana according to Ancestry. This 86% being the median result of their 99 samples (see AncestryDNA Regions for more details).

Range Iv.Coast

I am also blown away by how the minor % of Nigeria seems to be pretty much in line even with this person’s 1 non-Ivorian great grandparent who is Krio, the descendants of ex-slaves from the USA, maroons from Jamaica as well as liberated slaves from all parts of West/Central Africa being settled in Freetown/Sierra Leone. It is known many of them were Yoruba so some minor Nigeria would fit well. The Trace Regions might also be explained by the very diverse Krio background but it could also just be noise, as their confidence level is lower than for the main regions.

LIBERIA (Dan or Gio, Mandé speaking ethnicity)

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Liberia

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This person’s family is from a Mandé speaking ethnicity located in the border area with Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry (scroll down for Liberia maps on this page). Interestingly only 17% of his ancestry is designated as “Mali” while “Ivory Coast/Ghana” is overwhelmingly predominant. So we could say that this Liberian person seems to be genetically similar to the result posted from Ivory Coast albeit with a noticeable “Malian” shift. Which is perhaps not very surprising given that Liberia and Ivory Coast are neighbouring countries with also overlapping ethnolinguistical groups. As there are no separate categories yet for Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry or Liberia, it seems logical that any ancestry hailing from these parts will be described in terms of the existing regions. Somewhat early to speculate but i suppose for a Kru speaking person from the southern parts of Liberia their “Ivory Coast/Ghana” score might be even higher.

Even though the 17% “Mali” score might seem subdued, it is still showing up quite strongly when we take into account that 1) a “typical native” of Mali is only 39% “Malian” according to Ancestry (see also AncestryDNA Regions) 2) the Ivorian posted earlier has only 3% Mali while this mostly Akan descended person has also confirmed partial Malinké ancestry (=Mandé speaking group from Ivory Coast). So eventhough it shows up relatively minor, “Mali” might yet be a significant ethnic marker for this Liberian person. Still it is also intriguing to speculate what this may imply for the deeper ancestral origins of Mandé speaking groups in Liberia. It is known historically they were last to arrive in Liberia (Atlantic/Mel speaking groups being assumed to have settled first followed by Kru speakers from the east, see also this link). And they might have absorbed many previous inhabitants among their ranks by intermarriage and/or language shift.

SIERRA LEONE 

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SALONE2

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Very fascinating to see the results of a person from Sierra Leone, as this country has not been included in any of the AncestryDNA regions yet. Even when many people from the Afro-Diaspora might have some degree of ancestry from this area. Because Sierra Leone does not have a category of its own it seems logical that neighbouring countries will show up to describe it in regional terms. And that is also what we are seeing above, for the most part anyways.

The main combination of “Ivory Coast/Ghana” and “Senegal” was to be expected therefore. It highlights yet again that the countryname labeling of the AncestryDNA regions is obscuring the way these regional DNA markers are also spread out across borders. We can now verify that Senegal” can be found as far south as Sierra Leone, while “Ivory Coast/Ghana” goes all the way west beyond Liberia even

I do not know the exact ethnic background of this person however the 15% “Nigeria” score seems to suggest some partial Krio or Recaptive lineage down the line. I have read that when the liberated Recaptives first arrived in Freetown some of them were taken as brides or apprentices by other ethnic groups further inland. Due to this unique historical circumstance (also valid for Liberia) samples from Sierra Leone should be scrutinized carefully because of the possibility of extensive inter-ethnic marriages. Because some of these unions involving either Krio or Recaptives might have taken place many generations ago already, some people might not even be aware and just self-identify as being from one single ethnic group.

SIERRA LEONE (Mende)

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SALONE

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The main combination of “Ivory Coast/Ghana” and “Senegal” is quite similar to the result shown directly above for another Sierra Leonean. I had assumed that “Mali” might possibly also appear in noticeable proportions for Sierra Leoneans. But apparently not so for these two individuals. Compare for example with the 17% “Mali” of the Liberian person further above. Perhaps it is also correlated with ethnic origins. This person coming from a Mende background. This ethnic group is thought to have arrived relatively recent in Sierra Leone during the 1500’s/1600’s by way of Liberia (see this insightful article). Which would actually also explain why “Ivory Coast/Ghana” ended up as biggest region.

An intriguing score is the 4% “South Central Hunter-Gatherers”, even when being minor it is still at an elevated level when compared with results from Afro-Diasporans. The first Sierra Leonean result shows the exact same amount actually. Leaving aside the possibility of Congolese Recaptive ancestry i suppose it might signal DNA traces of absorbed Pygmy-like people once living in the Upper Guinean rainforest zone. This region also showed up for the Ivorian result above with 2%, proving that it is not exclusive to Southern and Central Africa as implied by the name.

I personally find the rather high “Benin/Togo” the most surprising component of this breakdown.  I like to emphasize i am just speculating out loud here because this person has two confirmed Mende speaking parents. Still i have read it is quite normal for Sierra Leone to have inter-ethnic marriages occurring also in the past. And who knows perhaps this outcome is the result of such intermarriage from a couple of generations back, possibly involving a Krio of ultimately Yoruba, Ewe or Beninese background. Which resulted in a 20% “Benin/Togo” score , just like the previous Sierra Leonean received a score of 15% “Nigeria”. Either way it goes to show we shouldn’t underestimate the genetic diversity for Africans themselves as they are also often reflecting ethnically mixed backgrounds and ancient migrations if you go back far enough.

CAPE VERDE (Santiago island)

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CV

In a certain way Cape Verdeans can also be considered to be Afro-Diasporans, despite being located in West Africa. Afterall their mainland African ethnic roots are multiple and mostly resulting from the Atlantic Slave Trade. Plus generally speaking they will show some non-African admixture to varying degree. Nevertheless AncestryDNA testing has been very consistent with Senegal showing up as first region for nearly all Cape Verdean results i’ve seen sofar (see this sheet) and Mali usually coming in as second main region as is the case for the result above. This seems to be a quite solid confirmation of the overwhelmingly Upper Guinean origins for Cape Verde’s African ancestry (for more details see “Cabo Verde Raizes Na Africa“). Also i suppose Cape Verdean results can be seen as validating the prediction accuracy of the “Senegal” region which seems to pick up on quite distinct DNA markers not only from Senegambia but also Guinea Bissau. There’s usually also a variety of sometimes surprising Trace Regions showing up for Cape Verdeans but with reduced confidence level. For more analysis of Cape Verdean AncestryDNA results follow this link.

The person who took this test also made this excellent youtube video:

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SAUDI ARABIA (Fula/Fallatah)

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SA - Fula

This person is not African but Saudi Arabian rather as her family was born there and she herself as well. However she is of Fula descent on both sides. Fula communities can be found all across the interior of West Africa, a.k.a. the Sahel region (see this page for maps). They can even be found all the way east in Sudan or like this person in Saudi Arabia, where they are also known as Fallatah or Fellatah (see this page for more info on Sudanese Fula or also this Facebook page for Saudi Fula). And the amazing thing is that despite centuries of migration all across the Sahel this person’s original Fula origins from Senegambia are still clearly reflected in this DNA profile! The original homeland of the Fula according to most historians would be the Senegal river valley and the above breakdown seems to confirm this theory very nicely judging from the clear majority of Senegal + Mali + North Africa %’s. It is an (extra detailed) corroboration of what was obtained recently in a DNA study about Sudanese ethnic groups, where the Sudanese Fula samples were also found to be distinct from the others. See Dobon et al. (2015, fig.3) or also this blogpost for more in depth analysis.

There’s a couple of striking things about these results for me:

  1. The Fula have been migrating extensively for many centuries and so it can be expected they have intermarried with other ethnic groups along the way to some degree. In fact this is known to have ocurred for especially urbanized and agricultural Fula speakers in Senegal itself (the Toucouleur), the Fulakunda or socalled Fula Preto in Guiné Bissau and the Hausa-Fulani in northern Nigeria. However the strictly nomadic branches of the Fula have always had the reputation of being much more endogamous and these results seem to be clearly in support. Still it’s only reflective of the family history of this single person and individual variation among Fula might still be greater in other cases.
  2. The relatively high North African proportion of 16% is in line with previous findings of possibly partial Berber or related origins for the Fula people. See also “The Fulani have an old “Berber” (?) element”. This element contributes to making Fula genetics quite distinct overall. Interestingly minor North African %’s have also been appearing for many Afro-Diasporans. For Hispanic Americans there’s a great chance it could also (in part) be derived from their Iberian/Canarian ancestry, however for others a small North Africa % could very well be traced back to a Fula ancestor! Although of course nothing’s set in stone and you will need additional clues to confirm 😉
  3. The pronounced Senegal + Mali percentages have been very useful in highlighting this person’s ultimately Senegambian origins. However for Afro-descendants you can’t make the sweeping generalization that any amount of Senegal or Mali would automatically be correlated with Fula origins. Afterall there are many other ethnic groups from Upper Guinea and Mali who might score similarly high for Senegal or Mali. In fact the previous breakdown of the person from Cape Verde looks very similar to this Fula breakdown. But given their long history of intensive creolization and intermixing of various people from across Upper Guinea it’s unlikely Cape Verdeans would be of exclusively Fula descent (see this overview). However a partial Fula contribution, significant even, is not be ruled out either of course. It’s noteworthy therefore that not only the predominant Senegal+Mali combination is mirrored (around 60% for both) but also to lesser degree North Africa is showing up (2% versus 16%) and even the Middle East (6% versus 17%).
  4. The minimal amounts of supposedly European (all Iberian), Asian (South Asia) and even Pacific Islander ancestry for this fully Fula descended person (afaik) are rather peculiar to say the least :-D. It goes to show that Trace Regions should always be taken with an EXTRA grain of salt, not only the geographical labeling might be off but also the estimates themselves usually include zero %! All sorts of speculative scenarios might apply but it could very well be that these trace %’s merely represent DNA segments which AncestryDNA finds hard to classify given it’s current reference panel. The 2% Southeast Bantu is interesting though as it might be indicative of minor East African connections.

38 gedachten over “African Results

  1. Hey I’m Kenyan and waiting for my results to come in the next 1-2 weeks atleast thats what ancestry said any ways I’m 1/4 kikuyu 1/4 Swahili 1/4 Mijikenda/digo and apparently 1/16 south asian on my 2nd kikuyu side and maybe even 1/64 Yemenese on my Digo side because my grandfather looks full blown Afro/Arab and my grandmothers father had mixed race features and she also admitted that he was half British or south asian so theres that :).

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  2. Hi,

    Nice work. I took the test on http://www.dna.ancestry.com two years ago and scored 100% for Africa. I am west African myself and North Africa and Senegal are the only regions in Africa where I scored 0%. I noticed that dna.ancestry regularly update my matches. I now have a 4th cousin which is great, but the most surprising is that I now have three white cousins, who only have Africa North as a trace region in Africa. I am so confused since North Africa does not even shows as a trace region in my results. I really don’t know what to think anymore about these results…

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    • Hello J, thanks for your comment! Would you mind sharing your complete results as well as your ethnic background/nationality? I am always very much interested in seeing the results of Africans as i find them very educational.

      As for your white cousins, that’s intriguing indeed! Personal DNA testing as well as DNA studies are revealing that quite a few white Americans as well as white Latin Americans have some minor African DNA and are not 100% genetically European. In many cases these small African %’s might be traced back to one single distant African ancestor from many generations ago i imagine. So in that way it might be possible indeed for you find some white matches. Judging the validity of your own matches might be tricky though given what you say. Because of socalled IBS matches your predicted DNA cousins might not always be the “real deal” but rather false positives. These articles have more info:

      Identical by descent (IBD) versus Identical by state (IBS) matches
      Goodbye False Positives! AncestryDNA Updates its Matching Algorithm

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  3. Hey I wanted to kno if u can interpret my results. Iam 41% Nigerian
    16%camaroon
    15%mali
    14%ivory coast
    4%senigal
    2%benin Togo
    1% hunter
    2% southeast bantu
    I kno I’m Igbo but I think I’m Mande and Yoruba too. Prob a bit Fula. Plz help.

    Liked by 1 persoon

    • Hi Lavade, are you African American?

      If so you might find this blogpost useful, it provides an analysis of 350 African American AncestryDNA results:

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/ancestrydna/african-american-results/

      It is important to realize that these AncestryDNA results will not function as some sort of intra-African blood quantum. Trying to figure out any ethnic connections will be highly speculative and fraught with easily overlooked complexities. If you lower your expectation level you can still get some valuable clues though about where your African ancestors were located in a regional framework. Admittedly quite sketchy but still not to be dismissed either as long as you are aware of its inherent limitations. I find that you can get more plausible answers by researching which ethnic groups were most frequently documented in historical sources for whichever place your family’s from (not only just 2 or 3 generations ago but rather 200-500 years ago). Also additional clues from other DNA testing results (such as haplogroups or DNA cousins) might provide further insights.

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  4. Hello FonteFelipe, I have my results already here on this page, I am the IVC person. Concerning the 3 white matches, after reading your links, they may be false positive matches I believe. The single african region they had was North Africa, as I mentioned previously. Also, North Africa was in these 3 people’s trace region. I have no North Africa on http://www.dna.ancestry.com , so I am surely not related to them.

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  5. I find african results very interesting….I hope you will be able to find results from Guinea and Burkina Faso. I think people from these two countries may have high IVC/GH and high Mali as well. Hopefully they are working on providing more precisions on the IVC/GH region, which include origins from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and even Southern Guinea (the forest region), which is mostly comprised of Southern Mande speaking groups (Kpelle/Guerze, Dan/Gio/Yacouba, Mano, Kissi, and Toma). The girl on top mentioned in a comment that her parents are Asante from Kumasi. Here is a girl who is mostly Yoruba and Urhobo and she scored 72% Nigeria and 25% Benin/Togo.

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    • Salut J.! Maintenant je me souviens de toi 😉 You are absolutely right about African DNA results being highly interesting! I find it very regrettable that some people seem to think DNA testing is only worthwhile for finding out about racial admixture… When really it is about learning about your ancestors and connecting with your DNA cousins which in my opinion can never be boring. Also if your ancestors happen to have been all from the same place and all from the same ethnic group it will still be interesting to have confirmation!

      Personally i find homogenous results just as “cool” as very diverse ones. I don’t place higher value on having “exotic” ancestry even when it can be interesting of course. In fact even people who might find out that they are 100% of a particular background might still have more varied origins if you go back in time far enough. Ethnic groups did not pop out of the blue but are rather the result of ancient fusions and intermixing of previous ethnicities. Also even the most isolated groups could still be absorbing “new blood” every now and then by assimilating outsiders.

      Actually many Africans will find out that their DNA results will reflect a family history of migrations and inter-ethnic unions to varying degree. Both recent ones and more ancient ones (beyond family recollection or even beyond oral traditions). Which will usually lead to several regions being featured in their breakdown. Africans doing a DNA test might find out that they have close ancestral ties to neighbouring ethnic groups but even at times with African ethnic groups which are geographically far removed from their own family location.

      Furthermore they will learn about how they might have DNA cousins across the Afro-Diaspora. Many of whom will be very eager to get in contact to learn more of their shared heritage. This is what i find amazing about this whole DNA testing experience that it’s able to bring people together in understanding how we all might have distinct backgrounds but still be interrelated in unexpected ways as well!

      Would be great indeed to see a result from Mali, Guinea or Burkina Faso as well! It should be very insightful. Hopefully soon. More Africans seem to be testing with Ancestry these days. Have you see these videos yet? The half Ghanaian, half Australian result is again in support of how the “Ivory Coast/Ghana” region can be very predictive. The Gambian result is also very fascinating. I suspect she might have a Krio/Aku family line like yourself which would explain the minor “Benin/Togo”. The last video is done by a woman from Cameroon (Babanki/Kedjom). She scores a whopping 97% for the Cameroon/Congo region! Still doesn’t mean per se that she could not have mixed origins (within Africa) further down the line (the GedMatch calculators will be able to disentangle these more ancient components), but it does imply her DNA is a very near exact match to the Cameroonian samples used by Ancestry.

      Ghana

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  6. I’m African American and from Louisiana. I ended up with 58% African. 23% Nigeria, 22 % Mali, and 13% went to 7 African regions. I believe you stated this is not common for African Americans. My brother likes to believe we are descendent of Mansa Musa because of the amount of Mali.

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    • Hello Jen, 22% Mali is indeed far above average. Even when quite a considerable number of AA’s do score similar amounts. Interestingly especially people from Louisiana i have surveyed seem to score high amounts of Mali. Are both of your parents from Louisiana, as well as all 4 grandparents etc.? I’m planning to do a separate blogpage on Louisiana results shortly.Here’s a link to the results i have collected sofar:

      Spreadsheet with AncestryDNA results from Louisiana

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  7. Like your work on this blog – I’m African Yoruba (Nigerian) Mother and Krio (Sierra Leonean) Father I’ll share my results with you.

    It’s quite a mix – I think the Sierra Leone omission is due to the fact that a lot of the genes there are probably represented by surrounding areas especially in the case of the Krios who are returnees from the Americas. I was surprised that I had DNA from so many regions but after seeing your blog and seeing it’s a fairly common occurrence I was definitely more informed your spreadsheet on African DNA had one entry (member) that was close to mine DNA distribution which was also a surprise.

    I’m Lyndon Fasanya an African living and born in the UK.

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    • Hello Lyndon, thanks alot for your comment as well as sharing your results! If you are okay with it i would also really appreciate seeing the matches you received on AncestryDNA. You can share these by sending me an invite (FonteFelipe) by way of this link (choose “share full DNA results”):

      https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Sharing-my-Full-AncestryDNA-results-1460088592896-2580

      That’s a fascinating mix indeed! From the looks of it i’m guessing you might actually also have some Yoruba ancestry by way of your Krio father. It is known that the Yoruba were among the most numerous socalled African Recaptives who arrived in Freetown. Furthermore if you add up socalled Benin/Togo + Nigeria it’s 83%. Which means that at least 33% of it was inherited by way of your father. This is just an educated guess though 😉 Based on the assumption your mother would have given you 50% of your DNA compised exclusively of Benin/Togo + Nigeria. Actually Nigerians do show other regions as well in addition but usually only trace amounts of it or <10%. See also these blogs:

      Nigerian AncestryDNA results
      Krio from Sierra Leone: Afro-Diasporans with a twist?

      P.s. i am preparing a separate section devoted only to West African AncestryDNA results, it will feature a few more Sierra Leonean results, so keep an eye out on that!

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  8. I’m an African American female from South Carolina. I ended up with:
    Africa 91%
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 41%
    Cameroon/Congo 22%
    Senegal 15%
    Benin/Togo 6%
    Trace Regions 7%
    Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers 3%
    Mali 2%
    Nigeria 1%
    Africa Southeastern Bantu < 1%

    Initially i was excited to get my results but not I am just confused. Could you help me to better understand what all of this means?

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    • Hello E.

      AncestryDNA’s socalled “Ethnicty Estimates” can provide very valuable insight but only within a (sketchy) regional framework. It is important to realize that these AncestryDNA results will not function as some sort of intra-African blood quantum. Trying to figure out any ethnic connections will be highly speculative and fraught with easily overlooked complexities. 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.

      Your results are firstmost showing that you are 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 population group 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 a fundamental part of the African American experience. For more details see also:

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

      Having said all that i think when you lower your expectation level your biggest regions will probably be most informative for you to find out about your predominant African lineages. Although in fact also the smaller regions may be providing valuable clues. The most striking part of your breakdown is of course the 41% socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana’ this represents almost half of your total African ancestry (41/91=45%)! This gives your breakdown a more pronounced regional focus than the usually more fragmented standard. Your relative “Ivory Coast/Ghana” score (45%) is far above the “Ivory Coast/Ghana” average for African Americans (19,5%). I only observed a few similarly high scores for this region among my African American sample group (n=350). You would be among the top 10 of my sample group with the highest “Ivory Coast/Ghana” contribution. So that’s a significant finding in itself.

      Although this region is very predictive of Akan origins from Ghana it is actually also potentially describing origins from Liberia or even Sierra Leone! So don’t take it as anything final yet. Actually you may have inherited this sizeable chunk of your DNA from most likely dozens of individual African born ancestors who had offspring in the USA. Unless you happen to have an African parent or grand parent ofcourse. Otherwise it’s not like this is to be traced back to just one single ancestral location or just one single ethnic group. As in fact there may have been several ones combined in that 41% score.

      If you read through my AncestryDNA section you will learn more on how to possibly interpret your other regional scores. I intend to do a separate section on South Carolina AncestryDNA results eventually as well. So keep an eye out on that too.

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  9. I was wondering if you could help me decipher my results? I’m an African American female.

    Cameroon/Congo: 35%
    Ivory Coast Ghaha: 21%
    Senegal: 15%
    Benin/Togo: 12%

    Trace African regions:
    Mali 3%
    African Southeastern Bantu: 2%
    Nigeria: 2%

    Asia South: 1%

    I wanted to include Europe, because of the connections I’ve learned about with Africa —
    Iberian Peninsula: 3%
    Scandinavia: 2%
    Finland/NW Russia: 1%
    Europe East <1%
    Ireland <1%

    West Asia: 1%

    Thank you to anyone that responds!

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    • Hello aat04c,

      The reply i gave just above your comment on Dec 31st will also apply to you.
      Your own primary region, the socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region is ambigious because it may suggest a wide array of possible ethnic origins. From not only Cameroon and Congo but also surrounding countries. This also includes Nigeria in fact, but more so restricted to southeastern Nigeria (Igbo’s, Ijaw, Efik etc.). Otherwise based on slave trade statistics i’m assuming it will firstmost signal Central African origins and in many cases from the Bakongo people specifically.

      Especially in cases such as your self where Cameroon/Congo is convincingly reported as biggest region i would assume there is a very high likelyhood indeed that it will be Central African (Congo, Angola) rather than Biafran (Cameroon, eastern Nigeria). You will need to have additional research findings and/or DNA results though to zoom in to such a level. In particular finding DNA cousins will be very helpful (even when they will not fill in all the missing pieces).

      Like

  10. Hi Fonte, I hope all is well :). Thank you for your reply provided on top. I have seen the videos, and these people results look very consistent with their origins. I have a new cousin on ancestry, she is 3/4 Ghanaian from the volta region and 1/4 Togolese, her main regions are Benin/Togo and IVC/Ghana, and her traces Nigeria, Cam/Congo, and Senegal. I was wondering if you could please holla back if you get any more West African results. I have been using a few calculators on Gedmatch and depending on the calculators, these are the 10 recurrent populations I have the closest ties with (from my observations): Igbo, Mandinka, Hausa, Bambaran, Brong, Bamoun, Yoruba, Esan, and Kaba. I expected the Brong to be on top for the calculators where they are included (Punt K8, Punt K15, MLDP K23b, Dodecad V3, and HarrapaW) since I am predominantly Akan, however, it is never the case. Please see below my results from the following calculators:

    PuntDNAL K8 African only Oracle results

    #-Population Percent
    1-W_Benue_Congo 65.33
    2-E_Benue_Congo 18.73
    3-Nilo_Saharan 6.11
    4-Ubangian_Congo 4
    5-Omotic 2.31
    6-Western_Semitic 1.5
    7-Southern_HG 1.32
    8-Eastern_HG 0.68

    Single Population Sharing:

    # Population (source) Distance
    1 Nigeria_Igbo 6.3
    2 Mali_Mandinka 6.37
    3 Nigeria_Yoruba 8.74
    4 Ghana_Brong 9.08
    5 Mali_Bambaran 9.89
    6 Nigeria_Hausa 11.32
    7 Chad_Kaba 13.5
    8 Cameroon_Bamoun 18.24
    9 DRC_Kongo 19.28
    10 Cameroon_Mada 25.18

    PuntDNAL K15

    # Population Percent
    1 W_African 85.28
    2 Wht_Nile_River 8.44
    3 S_African 4.88
    4 Omo_River 0.67
    5 Horn_Of_Africa 0.49
    6 Oceanian 0.24

    # Population (source) Distance
    1 Hausa 4.1
    2 Bamoun 4.94
    3 Bambaran 5.14
    4 Igbo 5.35
    5 Brong 8.21
    6 Mandinka 10.91
    7 African_American 13.86
    8 Yoruban 13.94
    9 NE_Bantu 17.06
    10 Luhya 23.3

    HarappaWorld

    # Population (source) Distance
    1 mandenka (hgdp) 3.9
    2 hausa (henn2012) 4.02
    3 bamoun (henn2012) 4.83
    4 igbo (henn2012) 5
    5 bambaran (xing) 6.02
    6 brong (henn2012) 6.59
    7 dogon (xing) 7.86
    8 african-caribbean (1000genomes) 8.27
    9 kongo (henn2012) 8.79
    10 yoruba (hgdp) 8.8

    Dodecad V3

    # Population (source) Distance
    1 Igbo (Henn) 1.69
    2 Brong (Henn) 3.05
    3 Bamoun (Henn) 3.27
    4 Hausa (Henn) 4.05
    5 Bambaran (Xing) 5.17
    6 Kongo (Henn) 5.71
    7 Kaba (Henn) 7.25
    8 Fang (Henn) 7.74
    9 Dogon (Xing) 7.92
    10 Yoruba (Henn) 8.84

    Like

    • Hey J.

      I just added a new result from Ghana, most likely Akan! That makes 8 Ghanaian results i have in my survey right now. I also have 2 Ivorians and 6 Liberians. I am still preparing a new page where i will post their screenshots eventually. Funny thing is that their group averages for the socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana” region are nearly equal! Around 80%, it’s mostly the secondary regions which make each nationality more recognizable.

      See also this link for a full overview:
      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_sjsM56m-0ewGu1RlWbg2MtEwhWJrcbc4sRnvpkUquU/edit#gid=1788753882

      About your gedmatch results perhaps it is your minor non-Akan lineage which is causing you to shift away from the expected Brong. But to be frank i have never been much impressed by these seemingly very specific ethnic breakdowns on Gedmatch. I think it creates a false impression of accuracy when in fact the science is not there at all to reliably make this kind of very specific ethnic predictions. Especially for Afro-Diasporans who will not be able to countercheck, as you can, this can be highly confusing and often also misleading.

      Like

      • Awesome!!!!! Thank you for your reply Fonte and for the link. It is cool to see more results from the LIB-IVC-GH, I am trying to convince more people especially from Guinea and Burkina Faso to do the test, but it ain’t easy cause generally when you talk to Africans about these DNA tests they think it is useless and a waste of money cause they already know where they come from, also they think it is always the same regions, hopefully Ancestry.DNA will get more specific with the regions. Je prend les resultats de Gedmatch avec des pincettes lol because they don’t make great sense to me…..Anyways I found 2 new results as well (1 IVC and 1 Liberia), I don’t know if they are already among the results you found but the Ivorian girl has her two parents from the Guere ethnic group (called Krahn in Liberia) they belong to the Kru family, she scored 80% IVC/GH, 8% Mali, 7% Benin/Togo….The Liberian guy is Kpelle and Kru and scored 91% IVC/GH, 3% SouthHuntGath…For some reason I think western Ivorian may have more Mali in them than the Akan…Please see the videos below

        100% African from Ivory Coast

        100% African from Liberia

        Liked by 1 persoon

  11. Hello! Could you help deciphering my results as well? My family is from the Midwest as far back as I know (Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio). Our family is very diverse as far as skin tones, hair types, etc. and I have the same lighter tone and curly hair as my mom, who had completely different results:

    72% African
    56% Nigeria
    6% Ivory Coast/Ghana

    27% European
    22% Great Britain

    1% Pacific Islander

    My mom is almost 20% Native American, over 50% European etc. I do know DNA is selective but I am very curious about how to interpret this. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 persoon

    • Hi Jdaden,

      Those are indeed very intriguing results. Your “Nigeria” score is exceptionally high! I must have seen over 1000 African American results by now. But sofar i have only come across one other AA result who scored higher (57%). But relatively speaking your Nigeria contribution would still be higher (56/72=77%!). Even more amazing is that actually many Nigerian results i have seen scored below 56%. See also this page:

      https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/ancestrydna/african-results/nigerian-results/

      Your African DNA therefore seems to be a very good match for the 67 Nigerian samples AncestryDNA is using to determine their estimates. Eventhough an update of their reference populations might very well change your breakdown, i think it’s already safe to assume that you are indeed primarily and probably also predominantly of Nigerian descent!

      I would love to view your complete results. That way i can give you a more detailed assessment and also give you more input on your mother’s results. Please send me an invite to share your ethnicity estimates with me (FonteFelipe) by way of this link (choose “share full DNA results”):
      https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Sharing-my-Full-AncestryDNA-results-1460088592896-2580

      Like

    • Hey Jdaden, thanks a lot for sharing your results, truly appreciate it!
      I have been going through all of your 106 pages of DNA matches to get more clues on your origins. Of course there’s only that much that can be confirmed at this very preliminary stage. So take what follows just as my 2 cents and nothing final 😉

      First of all i had a look at your closest DNA matches (up to third cousins). I found it very interesting that for 5 out of 7 Nigeria was also reported as biggest African region. This seems to imply that across your family Nigerian origins are indeed very substantial and it’s not just some fluke that it turned up so high in your own DNA.

      I then did a search on birth location to see if your Midwest family origins are ultimately more so linked with Virginia than with South Carolina. Of course this search is only based on very imperfect information, as not everyone fills in their family tree and i obviously also didn’t check to which degree any of your matches would have either VA or SC origins etc etc. Still interestingly i got 25 pages when performing a search for Virginia and 17 pages when doing a search for South Carolina. Historically this doesn’t seem that surprising as i believe most Midwest settlers came from Virginia or New England rather than SC. But also genetically speaking it makes a lot of sense given your exceptionally high Nigeria score. Which seems very much in line with the slave trade patterns of Virginia which were heavily connected with the Bight of Biafra. See also this blog post of mine:

      The Igbo Connection for Virginia & Virginia-Descendants

      I also looked for any African matches. I found one who is most likely Nigerian and another one who is at least half Liberian. I will PM their names to you. If you contact the Nigeria match it might give you more clues about the ethnic specifics of your 56% Nigeria score. Although i would advise you to be very careful and not to jump to conclusions. Afterall your Nigerian match might himself also be ethnically mixed (if not recently than perhaps several generations ago and even beyond family recollection) So your MRCA (most recent common ancestor) will not automatically be of the same ethnic background as your DNA match. Also it is very likely that your 56% Nigeria score includes several ethnic groups from Nigeria and not just one. Afterall neither of your parents is fully Nigerian rather this portion of your DNA is to be traced back to the 1700’s, possibly even to the late 1600’s. Which means that you probably have atleast dozens of individual Nigerian ancestors who were taken to the US. Many of them might have belonged to the same ethnic group, Igbo origins seems very likely indeed. But again not all of them would have been.

      The Liberian match is also very interesting as it quite likely connects to your 6% socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana” score. As i have been mentioning on this page this region is actually also very commonly reported for Liberians. I have seen 6 Liberian results by now and their groupaverage for “Ivory Coast/Ghana’ is 81%, which is actually a bit higher than the group average of 7 Ghanaians (78%)!

      Like

  12. Hi, my results were Ghana 71%, Nigeria 13%, Benin/Togo 5%, Cameroon/Congo 2%, Mali2%, Senegal 1%, Eurasia 6%. I konw mother is from Ghana, possibly she accounts for 50% of the Ghana bit. My father is Caribbean, so I assume he is part Ghana perhaps 20-22%, and part Nigeria (13%, 5%, 2%, plus the Eurasian 6%). If his Nigerian bit is Nigeria 13%, Benin/Togo 5% and Cameroon/Congo 2%, which tribe would you say that this was from?

    Like

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment! That’s a really high Ivory Coast/Ghana score but not surprising indeed given that your mother is from Ghana herself. Do you intend to test your mother as well? That might not only be interesting for her and yourself but it will also be very helpful in increasing the chances for other Afro-Diasporans to learn more about their heritage by getting matched with your mother.

      You might be interested to compare with another person who’s also half Ghanaian like yourself and half AA. She scored 60% “Ivory Coast/Ghana”. You can see her breakdown via this link.

      The reply i gave her actually also applies to your case. That ~20% Ivory Coast/Ghana from your father’s side is very close to what i found to be average for the West Indians i have surveyed sofar. To cover all grounds it might still also include ancestral connections with either Liberia or Sierra Leone. But i think there is a high likelyhood that there might also be Akan lineage included. That part of your DNA will afterall be the genetical sum inheritance of several ancestors who lived mostly in the 1700’s (unless your father also happens to have a relatively recent Ghanaian connection).

      Now getting back to your question about your 13% Nigeria + 5% Benin/Togo + 2% Cameroon/Congo scores. You seem to be making an assumption that somehow this part of your DNA would be traceable to just one single ethnic group from within Nigeria. It is indeed true that such a regional combination is very commonly reported for Nigerians who take the AncestryDNA test (see this page) However from what i have seen sofar this combo could describe any given ethnic group from southern Nigeria!. Not just the Igbo and Yoruba, but also the Bini/Edo, the Urhobo and the Efik , just to name a few of the many more ethnic groups residing in southern Nigeria. The current AncestryDNA format is therefore not suitable to zoom into close ethnic detail, you will have to look for Nigerian DNA matches to get more confirmation.

      Also i think that it is good to keep in mind that on your Caribbean side your Africanborn ancestors will most likely number in the dozens if not over a hundred and mostly to be traced back to the 1700’s but possibly also to the 1600’s. This means that each single ancestor would have given you a DNA inheritance of about let’s say on average 1%. It could be more or less in individual cases but certainly not more than 5%, unless you’re dealing with an ancestor who arrived in the Caribbean during the late 1800’s. This stands in great contrast to the genetical contribution of 50% from your mother. But it is crucial to grasp the difference.

      It will therefore be practically impossible that your 13% Nigeria + 5% Benin/Togo + 2% Cameroon/Congo scores can be traced back to 1 single ancestor (unless you have very recent African migrant ancestry on your father’s side as well). Instead it will represent at least 10-20 individual African-born ancestors going up to 20-30 separate persons perhaps. It is not unreasonable to assume that many of them would have belonged to the same ethnic group or at least closely related ones. However i would certainly not rule out the possibility that also other types of ethnic origin might be included in addition and also outside of Nigeria’s borders.

      Like

  13. My father’s results are kind of mixed up and I need help interpreting them.

    85% African
    Benin/Togo 27%
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 16%
    Cameroon/Congo 14%
    Africa Southeastern Bantu 12%
    Trace Regions
    Mali 4%
    Africa South-Central Hunter-Gathers 2%
    Nigeria 1%

    Like

  14. Thanks for you response. I would like to ask one mopre question. You mentioned in one post that the results for Nigerians are as follows: all have some Nigeria, Igbo tend to have more Cameroon Congo, Yoruba more Benin Togo (which others have, only less) and Fulani have more Senegal. What about the Hausa (without Fulani mix)?

    Like

    • No problem Mike. Sofar i have only seen two Hausa/Fulani results so i can’t tell you right now. Just going by these two results i find it striking that they hardly scored any Benin/Togo nor Cameroon/Congo. While one of them scored a minor but still above trace level amount of Southeastern Bantu. Now of course there will be a great deal of variation with other Hausa results, but i wouldn’t be surprised if this also goes for many other Hausa people when they test with AncestryDNA. Overall i suppose Hausa (without Fulani mix) might score the highest degree of “Nigeria” when compared with Igbo and Yoruba on average.

      Like

    • Woah! Congratz! That is the highest Mali score i have seen sofar among my African survey. Ironically it’s among AA’s and Jamaicans that i have seen the highest Mali score sofar (42%). The difference between you and him is just recombination, most likely one of your parents has a similar Mali proportion and your brother just happens to have inherited the whole chunk. I would love to include a screenhot of his results (incl. low confidence regions) on my blog btw 😉

      Like

      • Yea maybe he inherited the whole chunk from one parent like you said or maybe he inherited partial proportions from each…. but what I understand is that 21%Mali is the minimum one of our parent is supposed to have based on his results, and I am almost sure that high Mali % does not fully come from our Sierra L. side. I ll talk to him about your blog and ask him to send you screenshots of his results. 🙂

        Like

      • Merci! Btw just the other day i came across the first profile i’ve seen from Burkina Faso! Here’s what the ethnicity preview looks like:

        Regions: Ivory Coast/Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Africa North
        Trace Regions: Senegal, Benin/Togo, Iberian Peninsula, Africa Southeastern Bantu

        Like

  15. :0 how Interesting!!!! So he has more IVC/GH, I was expecting IVC/GH to be high for Burkinabes but not top region….can you actually tell his ethnicity by his last name? Given the Nigeria and Africa North as major regions I suspect that he can be part Fulani Gurmanche or Gourma???? My brother’s estimates are below
    71% IVC/GH
    21% Mali
    5%Nigeria
    2%African South Hunt.Gh
    1% Benin/Togo
    <1% SouthEastern Bantu

    Like

    • He could also be part Touareg Tamashek with the high African North….And the high IVC/GH can be an indicator of Gur speaking groups (Mossi, Dagara, Lobi…) ? Seems like this region needs to be broken down further because it comprises Akan ancestry, but also Kru, Southern Mande, and likely Gur speaking groups as we can see with the Burkinabe results. A Guerze, Dan/Gio, Kissi or Mano from Guinea may likely have IVC/GH as dominant region.

      Liked by 1 persoon

      • Merci for you brother’s breakdown! I added his data into the tally. Lol samplesize is very minimal ofcourse but Liberia has the highest IVC/Ghana average right now! About the BF results, yes i agree IVC/Ghana will indeed describe not only Akan, but also Kru, Gur and southern Mande. I actually already also saw a Guinea Conakry preview but i’m not sure about that person’s background. This Burkina profile has a Mossi name but i suppose a partial Tuareg or Fula background would still be likely yeah. Have you seen my latest blog post yet? i would love for you to try this out and see how many “100% African”DNA matches you get:
        https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/how-to-find-those-elusive-african-dna-matches-on-ancestry-com/

        Like

  16. Hello,

    This site is amazing! I was totally unprepared for the results I received for my African heritage (didn’t know what to expect). Still trying to figure out if my results are random or if it provides insight into connections with an ancestral people/home? I am an African American female, from California. My father was from Arkansas. His maternal family was from Louisiana. Genealogy records indicate that the first male ancestor of my father’s paternal line emigrated from Barbados to South Carolina in the mid to late 1700. Please share any insight you may have. I realize this is all speculative, but like most African Americans, I yearn to know where my ancestors come from. My results from AncestryDNA are below.

    African 43%
    ——————
    Benin/Togo 17%
    Cameroon/Congo 10%
    Nigeria 5%
    Senegal 5%
    Mali 2%
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 2%
    Africa Southeastern Bantu 2%

    European 55%
    ———————-
    Europe West 31%
    Ireland 12%
    Scandanavia 6%
    Finland/Northwest Russia 4%
    Great Britain 2%

    Native American 1%

    Caucasus 1%

    Very Best Regards,
    Geneva

    Liked by 1 persoon

    • Hi Geneva,

      Thanks a lot for your comment! Your results are certainly not random but they are also not intended to be exact, they are afterall estimates based on comparing your own DNA to the samples of Ancestry’s reference panel. The AncestryDNA breakdown is very useful first of all because of your continental percentages which will be most reliable. But also the within Africa breakdown can be insighful as long as you realize it has inherent limitations and can only be expected to be “sketchy”. To zoom in closer in any possible ethnic connections hinding behind Ancestry’s regional categories i would advise you to follow this tutorial:

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry

      For more details on your African breakdown please read this comment which will also apply to your two biggest African regions and how they might be interpreted.

      Very interesting btw that you are aware of a Barbados born ancestor from the 1700’s. Was this a white or a black person? In the greater scheme of things the genetical contribution from this single ancestor from many generations ago will be rather small. You could however try to search your DNA matches for birth location and see if any Barbados born matches will show up to further explore this connection.

      These articles might also be useful:
      Is “Benin/Togo” really pinpointing origins from within Benin’s borders?
      “Cameroon/Congo” = moreso Angola/Congo for Diasporans?
      Louisiana: most African diversity within the United States?

      Like

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