About me


Getting to the roots of the most famous tree on Cape Verde, “Pe di Polon”. It’s a socalled Kapok or Cotton tree, to be found in both West Africa as well as the Americas. Sort of symbolizing the Trans Atlantic connections of Cape Verde.

This blog was basically born out of my personal quest to explore my own African roots. I took the 23andme DNA test already in 2010. Initially I was merely told that I had an x amount of African ancestry, without further specification. Of course I already knew I had African DNA as I am of Cape Verdean descent with Cape Verde being a West African island group (see also “What Tribe Am I?” ). I was also told that my maternal lineage originated in Mozambique out of all places! An African country which is probably furthest removed from Cape Verde  geographically speaking, located right at the other end of the continent, thousands of miles away from Cape Verde. With little known documented ancestral connections between the two countries besides both having been part of the Portuguese colonial empire. Safe to say I was confused and clueless about this one single concrete hint provided about my African heritage!

While overall my 23andme test experience has been enriching in many ways and I gained more insights after subsequent updates of my results. It did leave me wanting to know more about exactly which regions and which ethnic groups would be connected with my African heritage, beyond Cape Verde obviously. That sort of got the ball rolling as I tried to find more information myself from reading up on both Cape Verdean and African Diasporic history as well as following online discussions on genetics and DNA testing. I’ll never claim to be a trained expert in either field but I will attempt to use my blog to share whatever knowledge I have gathered in the last 10 years after having taken my first DNA test. I still love reading about anything that’s related to personal DNA testing. There’s so many areas of interest that come together: history, genealogy, anthropology, population genetics and even the psychology of how people react to their results as it confronts them with how they self-identify I suppose. I can honestly say it never bores me.

I’m convinced that new insights are often generated by just putting two and two together. In other words I think a multidisciplinary approach, combining history, ethnography, linguistics etc. with genetics, often works better than just limiting yourself to a onesided view. I’m also a firm believer of democratizing knowledge. Despite much academic progress being made in African & Afro-Diasporic studies many people taking DNA tests seem to be not aware. So that’s why aside from posting on whatever captures my imagination, I also intend for this blog to be some sort of repository of useful links, resources, charts, maps etc. (navigate the menubar). Anything to make it easier to understand the ethnic origins of Afro-Diasporans from all over the Americas and even located within Africa 😉 I would advise anyone to familiarize themselves at the very least with the vast diversity of Africa (see ethno-linguistic maps) and also whatever’s been documented historically about the African ethnic groups being present in your own country (e.g. see  ethnic/regional charts for the USA or the Anglo-Caribbean among others).


At the roots of probably the oldest and biggest tree of Cape Verde “Pe di Polon”. Standing tall for over 500 years on Santiago island.

Tracing the African roots of the Afro-Diaspora is also about reaffirming the lost identities of ancestors who were caught up in the most dehumanizing circumstances of slavery. I personally strongly believe that in order to truly honour your many dozens or even hundreds of African born forefathers and foremothers (see “Fictional Family Tree incl. African Born Ancestors“) taking a critical stance regarding the claims of DNA testing is a must. Naively taking your results at face value and just going for quick and easy answers could very well lead to gravely misidentifying the main lineages of your African ancestry, which would be tragic indeed inspite of all good intentions.

Don’t get me wrong: you can still get very valuable clues about your ancestry from DNA testing! But much depends on how much time and effort you’re willing to spend to do some own research, getting to know the basics of DNA testing, finding out about population genetics, learning about African history (again taking a critical stance and not just going by whatever seems either mainstream or fanciful but only what’s backed up by solid evidence). All these things will help improve your understanding and interpretation of your DNA test results which do provide helpful clues as long as you’ve done your homework.

Finding out about your ancestry can often be very daunting indeed. It takes a lot of perseverance, patience and luck. But I’ve found that when you finally get to learn something meaningful and verifiable it’s also very gratifying. Finding out you’re not alone in this quest is a true comfort and engaging in online discussions about this topic has always been very enriching for me and a great learning process. I invite all readers of this blog therefore to feel free to post any comments, questions, remarks or helpful criticism!

Just as a last statement I would like to emphasize it’s not my intention to push anyone’s own research into one direction only as it’s always wise to keep all options open. Even when the most plausible scenario usually is closest to the truth. Also i would hate to give any impression of a Mr.Know It All as I know how annoying that can be 😀 I’m aiming to keep opinions separate from facts and I will mention my sources as much as possible. I will also always make a conscious attempt to be as unbiased as I can be. However given human nature some bias might still be there even unintentionally. That’s why all the main research findings featured in my blog posts can also be found in “Ethnic/Regional Origins” in the menubar. That way readers can access the information without having to bother with my subjective opinions or attempts at (over) lenghty analysis 😉

For a blog series which summarizes my take on Tracing African Roots:


Dragoeiro tree in Santo Antão. It’s one of the most distinctive tree species on the Cape Verde islands.

131 thoughts on “About me

  1. Awesome! I just ordered my ancestrydna kit and hopefully in 6-8 weeks I can contribute to your site. I am excited, since I am from Brazil, and my great grandparents are from somewhere in Africa. Because of the Atlantic Trade, little is know about my family past. But now I want to put some light on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Muito obrigado Michel! I would love to include your results into my AncestryDNA survey. I have been wanting to see Brazilian results for a long time! Fortunately more Brazilians are taking the test right now. I will be excited with you when you receive your results, especially given your relatively recent connection with Africa!


      • These are my results and mtDNA haplotype. I would really like your opinion because there is very little information for L2c3 except some say “Gullah” and some say “Cape Verde.” My Ancestry results are:

        Africa 89%
        Cameroon/Congo 30%
        Benin/Togo 22%
        Ivory Coast/Ghana 17%
        Mali 10%
        Nigeria 6%
        Low Confidence Region
        Senegal 2%
        Africa North 1%
        Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers < 1%
        Other Regions Tested
        Africa Southeastern Bantu 0%

        However, A full sequence mtDNA test from FTDNA said:

        mtDNA – Haplogroup Origins

        HVR1 MATCHES
        Haplogroup Country Comment Match Total
        L2c France – 1
        L2c Germany – 1
        L2c Jamaica – 1
        L2c Mali – 2
        L2c Mexico – 2
        L2c Portugal – 3
        L2c Puerto Rico – 4
        L2c Senegal – 2
        L2c Sierra Leone – 2
        L2c Spain 1
        L2c Spain – 3
        L2c Suriname MDKO: Surinam 1
        L2c United States – 5
        L2c United States (Native American) – 4
        L2c Wales – 1
        L2c3 Cuba – 1
        L2c3 Guinea – 1
        L2c3 Jamaica – 2
        L2c3 United States – 4
        L2c3 United States (Native American) – 1

        Haplogroup Country Comment Match Total
        L2c United States – 1
        L2c3 Cuba – 1
        L2c3 United States – 2

        Haplogroup Country Comment Count
        L2c3 Cuba – 1
        L2c3 United States – 2

        AND: mtDNA – Ancestral Origins

        HVR1 MATCHES
        Country Match Total Country Total Percentage Comment
        Cuba 1 238 0.4%
        France 1 4,838 < 0.1 %
        Germany 1 15,154 < 0.1 %
        Guinea 1 10 N/A
        Jamaica 3 106 2.8%
        Mali 2 9 N/A
        Mexico 2 2,339 0.1%
        Portugal 3 1,141 0.3%
        Puerto Rico 4 799 0.5%
        Senegal 2 17 N/A
        Sierra Leone 2 39 N/A
        Spain 4 2,347 0.2%
        Suriname 1 8 N/A MDKO: Surinam (1)
        United States 9 6,483 0.1%
        United States (Native American) 5 3,979 0.1%
        Wales 1 1,284 0.1%

        Country Match Total Country Total Percentage Comment
        Cuba 1 160 0.6%
        United States 3 5,951 < 0.1 %


        Country Match Total Country Total Percentage Comments
        Cuba 1 97 N/A
        United States 2 4732 < 0.1 %


        • Hello Nkenge,

          To be frank i am not really that well informed about haplogroups to give you any detailed opinion. I do know however that your maternal haplogroup will only represent one family line out of potentially dozens or even hundreds. Also, as your matches already suggest, haplogroups tend to be very widespread across many countries and generally speaking they are certainly not unique to any particular ethnic group.

          I do have a section on haplogroups on my blog which you might useful:

          Haplogroups (AA)
          Locating African American haplogroups within Africa


          • UPDATE: I suspected and according family my mom is said to be “Mandinka.” I learned Mandinka women can be L2c3a, mom is L2c3. I tested with LivingDNA first it said maternal DNA is: 39% Senegal. 16% Cape Verde, 14% Guinea-Bissau, 14% Sierra Leone, 10% Liberia. Then I tested with AfricanAncestry.com and it said: Mandinka Senegal, Fula Guinea-Bissau, Mende and Temne Sierra Leone, and Kru Liberia. Very, Very, interesting!

            Liked by 1 person

      • Hello FonteFelipe, I’m wondering

        Under lesser Antilles you have 3 regions which is Trinidad & Grenada
        St.vincent & the Grenadines region which indicates Guyanese & Bajan ancestry
        Lastly Leeward Islands is what I have

        I only have Leeward Islands
        I don’t have St.Vincent Region which indicates Bajan ancestry.

        Funny thing is that when it comes to my migration time period

        It shows a big Orange circle and it shows Barbados throughout the timeline
        What does that mean ???


        • Hey Dezzy, the migration tool has a great informational potential. But it is not always consistent. I would contact Ancestry’s help desk for more details.


          • My Mali Region say I’m primarily located in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, & Sierra Leone.

            Does it mean I’m from those countries within the Mali Region ?


            • No it means that according to Ancestry’s (limited) info their so-called “Mali” region attains the highest scores among their own samples from those countries mentioned.

              You will have to look into historical plausibility as well as your DNA matches etc. for further clues. To find out how it relates to you personally.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. A breathtakingly sacrificial undertaking and most useful resource. Thanks for sharing your findings. As a fellow family-tree recorder and researcher, your work in this area has opened up new avenues of finding relatives who were previously lost due to dead ends and lack of information. Much respect.

    ~ Yejide AKA Carriacou’s Great-granddaughter in exile by way of T&T

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, I just found this blog. I am so happy to see this. I have been always wondering what is behind my heritage. My parents are unsure, my grandma said something about Trinidad one time, but nothing else. I’m broke, so I’ve had to go on feelings and connections I feel to certain things. I feel connected to Haiti and it’s soil. I feel that coursing through me and my soul. But I don’t know. My next major purchase for myself is going to be a 23andme full test. I feel as though I’m going to trace my lineage and see that I’m from many more places than I thought. I’m kind of excited for this.

    ❤ This fills in the gaps until I can get there. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi my name is simone f. my ancestry dna results are: 29% nigerian 26% ivorycoast/ ghana 19% cameroon congo and 5% benin togo what tribe am i from please tell me


    • Hi Simone. I cannot tell you which ethnic group*s* you descend from because despite the name AncestryDNA’s socalled Ethnicity Estimates are not meant to give you that information. Instead they are intended to provide you with an approximate description of what your African DNA looks like regionally speaking, nothing more but also nothing less. This information can still be very valuable as long as you are aware of its inherent limitations and know how to correctly interpret these results.

      This type of socalled admixture analysis (incl. Ged-Match and DNA-Land) can never tell you exactly which ethnic group*s* you descend from with 100% certainty no matter how detailed their reports might look and also no matter how fancy or trustworthy their claims might appear at first. Keep in mind these tests are only measuring genetic similarity with samples in their (by default limited) database and not actual descent!

      I used a plural for ethnic group*s* on purpose as practically all Afro-Diasporans will have dozens if not hundreds of relocated African-born ancestors, depending on your background mostly from the 1700’s but also possibly from the 1500’s/1600’s and early 1800’s.

      Statistically speaking it is nearly impossible for all those people to have been from just 1 or even just a handful of ethnic groups. Instead on average a Diasporan will have various ethnic origins from several places in between Senegal and Mozambique. The particular mix and proportions will vary per individual but not so the fact that a Diasporan’s DNA is basically a melting pot of many different ethnic lineages. It will never reflect just one single ancestral “tribe”.

      Your best bet to confirm one particular ethnic lineage (out of many others) is by finding an African DNA cousin with confirmed background. Although going back several generations in fact also your DNA match might be ethnically mixed. So making any final conclusions about your MRCA (most recent common ancestor) should always be done cautiously. In order to do so, carefully & regularly browse through your DNA matches pages and look for “African” names or else persons who only have African regions mentioned in their ethnicity preview. You can also perform a search on birth location and type in various African country names such as Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia etc.

      Another strategy is to closely study the documented African presence for the US states where your family hails from. Not just going back 2 or 3 generations but rather going back as far as possible to the early 1800’s, or ideally even the 1700’s. Slavevoyage data as well as comparison with the African ethnic groups documented elsewhere can be very helpful when interpreted correctly. Although probably more so on a group level than on an individual basis.

      Having said all that your breakdown seems very typical for an African American. Especially the ranking of your top 4 regions is perfectly in line with what i found in my survey of 350 African American AncestryDNA results. If you are indeed African American statistically speaking the the odds will be high that you have some degree of Igbo lineage included in your “Nigeria” score although in fact other (southern) Nigerian ethnic groups might be included as well (in addition). Your socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana” score will most likely include some degree of Akan lineage but possibly also some Liberian and Sierra Leonean lineage might be included (in addition). The socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region is more difficult to pinpoint but will probably include some degree of Bakongo lineage (in addition to possibly other Central African & Bight of Biafra lineage). This is all merely informed speculation on my part though 😉

      For more background information see also these previous blogs i have written on these topics:

      “What Tribe Am I?”
      Fictional Family Tree incl. African Born Ancestors
      Historically documented ethnic/regional origins of African Americans
      350 African American AncestryDNA results


  5. My AncestryDNA results show that I am 72% African with the following breakdown: 22% Southeastern Africa Bantu, 13% Mali, 12% Benin and Togo, 9% Nigeria, 8% Ivory Coast/Ghana. Trace regions: 5% cameroon and Congo, 2% Hunter gatherers and 1% Senegal. I also have 27% European. I’m African American and I was surprised by the high SE Bantu percentage. Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jo,

      Your socalled Southeastern Bantu score of 22% is indeed clearly above average and it’s quite rare for an AA to have it reported as top region. In my original survey of 350 AA results, the greatest amount of SE Bantu was “only” 25% and only two persons had this region as the biggest one within their African breakdown. Since then i have literally seen hundreds more of AA AncestryDNA results and again only a very small number have SE Bantu as number 1 region and typically the scores are rather subdued, with the higher ones only reaching the lower 20% range similar to you. However i did see one AA result with an astonishing score of 48% SE Bantu and also one with 33% SE Bantu. So i suppose it’s fair to say a SE Bantu score of above 25% is very atypical although not impossible for an AA.

      Now it gets more trickier to establish any likely origin hiding behind this socalled SE Bantu region, which is spread out across a very great part of Africa. Generally speaking for AA’s and other Afro-Diasporans i think that despite the labeling SE Bantu is most likely to be indicative of Southwestern Bantu origins, especially from Angola, eventhough origins from Southeastern Africa, especially Mozambique & Madagascar still also remain a possibility.

      I suppose only additional clues might clarify this for you. Especially DNA matches hailing from this general area. Have you done a thorough check yet for any African DNA cousins among your list of DNA matches? You can either carefully browse through each of your pages and look for 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 Angola, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia 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.

      I intend to blog about this in greater detail eventually. But you can already read some more on this page:

      Central and Southern African AncestryDNA results


  6. Hello, My name is Cedric Ngwa. I am from Chicago, but my parents are originally from Northwest region of Cameroon, west/central africa. My tribes are Bafut/Mankon/Aghem and possibly Widikum from the Northwest Region. However I am a majority Bafut, and that’s how culturally I am identified. There are theories that my tribe I’d an offshoot of the Tikar from Northern nigeria or around the Lake Chad region. I wanted to know if you can help me to determine the validity of the oral history of my tribe through dna studies. Do you know if it’s possible to determine tribes through Dna? Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Cedric,

      Many people like you seek to find very finegrained DNA test results which specify ethnic origins. To be frank i i am always very sceptical about any DNA testing company which makes such claims as i suspect they are often merely catering to unrealistic wishes from their customers. I find that is often underestimated that ethnicity itself is a social construct, to a certain degree. It is not transfixed in time but rather gradually evolves, socalled ethnogenesis. Due to intermarriage across the generations with neighbouring ethnic groups as well as migrations from other areas any given ethnic group will usually be of “mixed” orgins if you go back long enough in time. Many ethnic groups in Africa actually show more genetic diversity among themselves rather than compared with neighbouring ethnic groups. This is because of their shared ancestral origins to be traced back to both recent historical periods as well as very ancient prehistory.

      Furthermore i find that many people underestimate the sheer number of ancestors we all have going back just a few generations. We are all aware we have 2 parents and 4 grandparents however we also have 8 great-grandparents, 16 great grandparents, 32 gg grandparents, 64 ggg grandparents, 128 ggg grandparents, 256 gggg grandparents, 512 ggggg grandparents, 1024 gggggg grandparents etc. etc. Many people will be ignorant about the exact ethnic background of ALL their ancestors going back just 200 years or so, let alone 500 years. People who do a thorough research of their family trees often express surprise at the degree of “foreign” lineage further down the line. As you already mention yourself interethnic unions are also pretty common in Cameroon. Because cultural identification in Africa is often only determined along parental or maternal lines distant ethnic mixing is quickly obscured after only a few generations.

      Having said all that i do think that DNA testing can provide valuable insights as long as you remain aware of the inherent limitations. You might be interested to know that i have blogged about the AncestryDNA results of two Cameroonians who, like you, are from the Northwest region. Doing a AncestryDNA test will not confirm your ethnic background but if you score in the 80-100% range for the socalled “Cameroon/Congo” region you will have a pretty solid confirmation of atleast your Northwest Cameroonian origins. Furthermore you will be linked to many DNA matches out of Ancestry.com client database. Naturally these will be mostly (African) Americans or other Afro-Diasporans, but possibily you will also receive a few DNA matches from Cameroon or Nigeria. Depending on the estimated genetic closeness with these DNA cousins they might provide further corroboration of your origins within Cameroon.

      Testing with either Ancestry.com or also 23andme or FTDNA will also allow you to download your DNA data and upload it into Gedmatch, a third party website which provides admixture analysis for free (just google for it and you will find numerous tutorials). Their socalled calculators can tell you more about your socalled “deep ancestry” admixture dating back from many centuries or even millennia ago. This will not be directly relevant for you, as this far surpasses the usual genealogical timeframe of around 500 years. Still it might be interesting. Through their Oracle feature they also report to you which sample groups from their (by default limited) databases show the greatest genetic affinity to your own DNA. This Oracle listing should not be taken as a measure of actual descent! Also do make sure to not take any of their ancestral category labeling or seemingly exact percentages too literally! This is a common “newbie” mistake which can lead to much confusion or even mislead you about your true origins. Again i am myself always cautious about the possibility of determining ethnicity through DNA testing. So if you’re going to do this i would advise you to take all results with a huge grain of salt. If you are able to correctly interpret the testresults, they can still be worthwhile though.

      Central & Southern African AncestryDNAResults (incl. 3 results from Cameroon, scroll down for it)

      GEDMATCH results of a Cameroonian (Babanki/Kedjom)

      A Gedmatch Admixture Guide!


      • Thank you for your response. Honestly what you are saying is very true because those 3 tribes that are in my family culturally are very similar and to an outsider they would be indistinguishable. I think that the deep ancestral roots tests is what I am interested in to see if the oral tradition in my tribe is true that we migrated from the East. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello.
    I’m Simone and I’m African American. I received my AncestryDNA results in October 2016 and it puzzles me a lot. I’m a beginner in my research of DNA overall. Many things that I’ve read so far on your page intrigues me and at the same time baffles me as I need more knowledge in order to have a complete understanding.
    I was hoping if you could help me shed some insights on my DNA results or advise on other resources that may be helpful.
    On Ancestry, I’m listed as 77% West African, Less than 2% Asian and 21% European (10 of the European is the Iberian Peninsula)
    What confuses me is my African estimated DNA results.
    Of the 77%, I’m 30% Mali – 25 Benin/Togo – 18% Cameroon/Congo.
    I have less than 1% of Ivory Coast/Ghana, African SE Bantu, Nigerian and Senegal.
    The more I try to research it and make sense of it all, it only leaves me with more questions which leads to totally being confused.

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you might be able to provice


    • Hello Simone,

      Your reaction to your DNA results is very common from what i can tell. I am curious to know what your expectations were prior to taking the AncestryDNA test. And also what exactly is it about the African breakdown which leaves you confused? The number of regions being mentioned or rather the specific regions themselves or something else?


  8. Hi and thank you for responding (and sorry for the earlier typos).

    As I’ve been studying DNA test results since receiving mine (and West African History), I had high hopes that I would be able to pinpoint at least one ethnic group that I could be certain that I belong to.

    When comparing my Mali 30% DNA marker to the typical person residing in Mali today (which is 39%) I thought I could say with certainty that I’m mostly Malian. However after more studying since October, it seems obvious (by historical accounts and AncestryDNA’s explanation that the other regions that share similar DNA with those from Mali are practically the opposite of mine. My DNA results showed that I’m less than 1% of those regions except for Cameroon Congo.

    Besides the puzzle of Mali’s admixture (learning of the regional wars between Ghana, Mali and later Songhai, intermarriages, borderlines imposed that sometimes split different ethnicities etc.,) It seems that I’m at a complete lost.

    Being 25% Benin/Togo and 18% Cameroon/Congo….I guess I thought (maybe more so hoping) that I had more Nigerian DNA than the less than 1% (which I understand is only a trace and could be attributed to background noise).

    I could go on and on about what I’ve learn about the history of Benin/Togo too but I guess my main comment or question is that I often see very low Mali percentages in others’ DNA. Mine seems high at 30%.

    Hope that answers your questions in more detail and is understandable.

    Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simone,

      Sorry for taking a while to reply. Thanks for the clarification. Taking a DNA test can be a very valuable experience but will in many cases not give you the immediate and cristalclear answers you might have in mind. Instead it will take you on a journey of not only self-discovery but also learning about Africa’s and the Afro-Diaspora’s history, genetics, genealogy etc. I personally find this all very enriching but i have found out that you do have to make an effort to go for the ride 😉

      I have just finished a blog post which i think might be very useful to you. I would love for you to try out this tutorial and please also let me know if any African DNA matches show up for you. If you need any help don’t hesitate to ask!

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry

      African DNA cousins can deliver some of the much wanted specification you are looking for. Even when these individual matches will only cover a *single family line* out of potentially hundreds. So they won’t provide answers to all your questions about your *entire ancestry* which as i also mention in that post will be a composite of various origins from several African regions and ethnic groups.

      In fact even your 30% Mali could very well be traced back to more than just 1 country or ethnic group. That 30% is likely to represent about 15 to 40 individual ancestors. Some of them might have shared the exact same background but chances are high many instead were from neighbouring groups/areas rather (eventhough still genetically similar). Keep in mind that the African-born ancestors from whom you inherited this piece of DNA would mostly have been born in the 1700’s (if not earlier) at which time roughly speaking you might have had inbetween 64 and 256 ancestors. So their individual genetic contribution might be around 1% on average. If you happen to have any African-born ancestors from the early 1800’s this genetical inheritance might be higher but still won’t be more than around 5% in most cases.

      Having said that you do indeed have an exceptionally high socalled Mali score. Proportionally speaking it is about 39% of your African breakdown (30/77). In my survey of 350 AA AncestryDNA results i only came across 5 people with higher relative contributions! This Mali region is somewhat ambigious and sofar i have not come across any native African yet who had a predominant score for it. I have however observed socalled Mali scores in the 10-20% range for people all across Upper Guinea and in fact also Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. So eventhough it is a distinctive region there’also a great deal of uncertainty when trying to pinpoint. Hopefully some of your African DNA maches can be helpful. What are your family’s state origins? It might be correlated with your above average Mali score although not per se.

      Your socalled “Nigeria” score on Ancestry is indeed rather low even when in fact many African Americans might score similar amounts. Keep in mind though that the labeling of ancestral categories is always to some degree arbitrary or imprecise. Actually you could still have a greater degree of Nigerian lineage but it might be “hiding” under your socalled “Benin/Togo” and “Cameroon/Congo” scores. Because Nigerians are so genetically diverse AncestryDNA needs these additional (and neighbouring) regions to describe Nigerian DNA.
      For more details see:
      Nigerian AncestryDNA results

      And also this page for your socalled “Benin/Togo” score
      Is “Benin/Togo” really pinpointing origins from within Benin’s borders?


  9. Your work is so eye opening. Thank you! My dad is Nigerian (Yoruba) & my mom black American….and I only got 12% Nigerian??😲😲 I was shocked and disappointed to be honest…my African Ancestry is 94% and is (Benin/Togo 26%, Cameroon/Congo 25%, Ivory Coast/ Ghana 22%, Nigeria 12%, Senegal 6%, Mali 1%)….5% European (Great Britain, Europe West) …..1% Pacific Islander ( Polynesia) any thoughts on the low percentage for Nigeria? My dad thought this meant I was not his daughter.

    *correction 2% Mali, <1% Africa South

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi LeeLee, thanks for the compliment! Haha your father has no reason to worry! Many Yoruba actually score predominant socalled “Benin/Togo” amounts and rather low socalled “Nigeria”. If your father decides to also do the Ancestry test he might very well likewise score higher for “Benin/Togo” than for “Nigeria.” This outcome won’t mean he will have to give up his Nigerian citizenship 😉

      Rather it’s all to do with ancient migrations and genetic similarity across country borders which have only existed for about 130 years or so. This labeling can be confusing at first but if you keep in mind that the regions on AncestryDNA are meant to be proxies and estimates rather anything super exact it will enhance your understanding. You can read more about it on this page:

      Nigerian AncestryDNA results

      Also check out this Youtube video done by a Yoruba/Edo woman who scored 55% socalled “Benin/Togo” and only 35% socalled “Nigeria”. This video is also done by a Nigerian with an unexpectedly high Benin/Togo score (66%), he’s not Yoruba but it’s still very insightful and funny!


  10. Could you give me a guess on what I belong to?
    Here are my ancestry dna results as follows:
    46% nigeria
    14% cameroon/congo
    12% mali
    12% ivory coast/ghana
    3% senegal
    2% africa se bantu
    2% africa sc hunter gatherers
    Suprisingly, no benin or togo


    • Hello Joshua,

      Just as a disclaimer, I cannot tell you which ethnic group*s* you belong to because despite the name AncestryDNA’s socalled Ethnicity Estimates are not meant to give you that information. Instead they are intended to provide you with an approximate description of what your African DNA looks like regionally speaking, nothing more but also nothing less. This information can still be very valuable as long as you are aware of its inherent limitations and know how to correctly interpret these results. See also the previous comments and especially this one for a further elaboration.

      If you just want my 2 cents 😉 I will say this, first of all your breakdown looks quite typical for an African American. Even when actually also West Indians and Haitians might receive very similar results to your own. Your “Nigeria” score makes for a very convincing top region. If you are indeed African American i would say it’s very likely that you have some degree of Igbo lineage , even when neighbouring ethnicities might also be reflected in that 46% “Nigeria”score. The “Cameroon/Congo” amount might be due to similar Bight of Biafra (east Nigeria/west Cameroon) connections, but could also be indicative of Central African ancestry. Your Ivory Coast/Ghana score could be from Ghana but in fact might also be suggestive of DNA from further west, in particular Liberia or even Sierra Leone. Lastly your Upper Guinean heritage also seems to be significant. Mande speaking origins seem quite likely. However if you really want to pinpoint any ethnic groups i recommend you start searching for African DNA matches. I have recently blogged about it:

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry


      • I appreciate your comment. I’m pleased that you gave me your take on my breakdown. I just saw this comment for the first time. I must’ve missed it, but I will attempt to find an African dna match.


  11. Hello can you give me more insight to my ancestry results.I’m African American
    Africa 86%

    Cameroon/Congo 35%
    Benin/Togo 21%
    Nigeria 12%
    Mali 11%

    Low confidence region
    Finland/Northwest Russia 5%
    Great Britain 3%
    Scandinavia 2%
    Italy/Greece 1%
    Ireland 1%
    Europe West <1%
    Iberian Peninsula <1%

    Thanks in advance


    • Hello Des,

      Please check the previous comments for disclaimers. Overall your breakdown seems very typical for an African American. Especially the ranking of your top 3 regions is perfectly in line with what i found in my survey of 350 African American AncestryDNA results. Statistically speaking the the odds will be high that you have some degree of Mande lineage included in your “Mali” score and Igbo lineage included in your “Nigeria” score. Although in fact other ethnic groups might be included as well (in addition). Your socalled “Benin/Togo” score as well as “Cameroon/Congo” are more ambivalent but again most likely some Ewe/Gbe as well as Bakongo origins will be hinted at but this doesn’t rule out other (additional) ethnic lineage. Afterall this is all merely informed speculation on my part 😉

      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.
      For more background information see also these previous blogs i have written on these topics:

      350 African American AncestryDNA results
      Is “Benin/Togo” really pinpointing origins from within Benin’s borders?
      “Cameroon/Congo” = moreso Angola/Congo for Diasporans?

      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


  12. You are doing such a good job. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I know you say you are not an expert but you are right. We need to learn more about our DNA. We need to put more effort. As for me, I am fascinated by DNA. I still would like to know how I know which DNA is from which parent.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hello,
    I recently took an interest in DNA, initially due to my daughter and I encountering recent hereditary health problems. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks and the work you are doing is remarkable. My father stated I am Jamaican from his side of the family. I have taken both 23and Me and Ancestry-DNA yet my DNA results do not match up with the results listed for Jamaicans/Afro-Caribbeans etc. I am most perplexed by the 9 % South Asian consistently found in my results. I would greatly appreciate any insight you can offer looking at my results listed below.


    Nigeria 25%
    Mali 13%
    Cameroon/Congo 13%
    Benin/Togo 13%
    Senegal 4%
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 2%

    Asia South 8%
    Asia Central 1%

    19 %
    Europe West 6%
    Finland/Northwest Russia 5%
    Scandinavia 3%
    Great Britain 3%
    Italy/Greece 1%
    Iberian Peninsula 1%

    Pacific Islander
    Melanesia 2%

    Sub-Saharan African 65.8%
    West African 55.4%
    Central & South African 3.3%
    East African 0.7%
    Broadly Sub-Saharan African 6.4%

    European 21.5%
    Southern European 13.3%
    Broadly Southern European 13.3%
    Northwestern European 4.8%
    British & Irish 2.0%
    Broadly Northwestern European 2.8%
    Broadly European 3.4%

    South Asian 8.9%
    Broadly South Asian 8.9%

    East Asian & Native American 0.4%
    Native American 0.2%
    East Asian < 0.1%
    Broadly East Asian < 0.1%
    Broadly East Asian & Native American 0.2%

    Unassigned 3.3%

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment Ree! Very interesting results. I am actually preparing to publish an update on my Jamaican survey findings. Right now i have collected 100 results which can be viewed in this online spreadsheet:

      100 Jamaican AncestryDNA results

      Jamaicans show a great deal of variation. So it’s best to not only take into consideration the group averages but also other statistical measures. In regards to your South Asian scores, it is indeed remarkable but not uncommon for Jamaicans to show this kind of admixture. South Asian migration in the 1800’s to Jamaica and other parts of the West Indies is well documented. It is known that many of them intermarried with people of a different background. The average South Asia admixture among my sample group of 100 Jamaicans is almost 2%. However for 8 persons out of those 100 a South Asia score of greater than 10% was reported while several others had more dilluted South Asian %’s (<10%). So it's not the most typical outcome but also not extremely rare.

      It's very useful that you tested on both AncestryDNA and 23andme. I have recently blogged about how to correctly interpret the Asian & Pacific regions on AncestryDNA. In particular this page should be relevant:

      South Asian & Melanesian AncestryDNA results

      I think to get a full scope on your possible South Asian heritage you should combine the socalled “Asia South”, “Asia Central” and “Melanesia” scores to arrive at an approximate ancestral share of 11%. Which (assuming you have only one direct South Asian ancestor) would translate into about 1/8 of your DNA, and *possibly* 1 South Asian great grandparent. Again other ancestral scenarios might also apply. The reason these regional scores can be combined is because they describe DNA markers which are also reported for native South Asians themselves (typically they do not receive 100% South Asia scores!). For more details see that page i refer to above.

      It’s interesting to note that on 23andme (which generally provides a more accurate Asian/Pacific breakdown) you no longer have any Oceania score, which goes to prove that the socalled “Melanesia” was just a misreading on part of AncestryDNA. The South Asia score of almost 9% on 23andme is broadly in line with Ancestry. But given that they also leave 3.3% of your DNA unassigned it could very well be that it’s actually an underestimation on 23andme’s part.


  14. Thank you so much for the quick response! I really appreciate it. My stepmother sent me some records about my grandfather, he was born in Kingston,Jamaica in 1920. On my mother’s side I have inquired about my maternal great grandfather but information regarding my great grandfather is an elusive topic of conversation, so I am doing my own research and putting the pieces of my family history together.

    No one, on my paternal or maternal side can explain the South Asian portion found across the board in my DNA. My mother claims we have Native American heritage (Blackfoot Indian) through my maternal great grandmother and Native American heritage through my maternal great grandfather(Chippewa Indian),my DNA shows traces of Native American on my 23andme and zero on Ancestry,up to 2.4% on GEDMATCH,and 1.1% listed below on DNA-LAND. My mother thinks the tests are faulty as she is adamant regarding the native heritage in our family.

    I have also uploaded my DNA to GEDMATCH and DNA-LAND as well as both my daughter’s DNA. Below are my DNA-LAND results, any thoughts? I am new to genealogy but I find it very interesting, so I know it is becoming more than a passing hobby. I will look at the two sites you mentioned in your response.Thank you for your help.

    DNA-LAND Results:
    African 68% total

    West African 53%
    • Lower Niger Valley 44%
    • Mende/Akan 7.7%
    • Senegal River Valley 1%

    East African 15%

    West Eurasian 28% total

    Northwest European 9.3%
    South Asian 6.8%
    • Dravidian 3.6%
    • Gujarati 3.2%
    Sardinian 6%
    Ashkenazi 4.4%
    Finnish 1.4%

    Ambiguous 2.2%
    Native American 1.1%
    Native Oceanian 1.1%


    • You’re very welcome! Frankly i am not a big fan of the admixture analysis performed by DNA Land as i find it to be less accurate compared with both AncestryDNA and 23andme. However basically again you are reported with a considerable amount of South Asian DNA. You can be pretty sure it’s a genuine finding.

      I would recommend that you start searching for South Asian DNA matches. Contacting the ones who are closest related to you might give you more insight. There’s several methods you could search for them, incl. by birthplace or surname. However this tutorial i originally devised for finding African DNA cousins might also work. You first need to download all your matches and then filter them for matches who do not show any European or Native American regions (choose filter 2 “more inclusive”). If you get stuck at any of the steps feel free to contact me.

      Tutorial for singling out African/Asian matches on AncestryDNA

      In regards to your Native American lineage. It is likely to be there as 23andme also picks up on it. But obviously it has been greatly diluted. Most likely your “full-blooded” Native American ancestors lived several generations earlier than was passed on.This contrast between family traditions and genetic reality is a very common finding for many Americans who perform DNA testing. See also:

      NATIVE AMERICAN DNA Is Just Not That Into You


  15. I have read the blog regarding Native American DNA,it was very interesting and made sense to me. I also just looked over the tutorial for singling out African/Asian matches on Ancestry, this task looks daunting and time consuming so I will come back to this task later, after I have completed my homework assignment.
    You have been very helpful and approachable,thank you for all of your help and guidance as I attempt to navigate the fascinating world of DNA.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great site. I like the first Zambian languages map you list and would like to use it in an academic paper. Did you create the map or find it somewhere else? For the paper, I will have to provide the source citation so that would be helpful to know. Thanks.


  17. Hello!

    Reading your blog has been super helpful and interesting! I recently got my ancestryDNA results and have been doing research and trying to figure out how to interpret them. For the most part, the results weren’t too surprising given what I had already knew regarding the patterns of the transatlantic slave trade and my family history. But I was surprised that some regions showed higher percentages than I would’ve guessed to be typical for an African American and others showed lower percentages. For example, I had 22% Mali (which I expected to be lower), 11% Nigeria (which I expected to be higher), and only 3% for both Ivory Coast/Ghana as well as Senegal (which I also expected to be higher), 7% Benin/Togo and 11% Africa Southeastern Bantu. The 17% Great Britain also didn’t surprise me given what I know about my family history. Aside from Ivory Coast/Ghana and Senegal, I didn’t put much thought into any of my trace regions (Ireland/Scotland/Wales, Scandinavia, Europe West, Asia East, Native American, and Iberian Peninsula) because none of them seemed to be too unusual or inexplicable except for the Asia East since I figured most of the western European trace regions could be lumped with Great Britain or at least explained in the same way and Native American ancestry shouldn’t be too surprising for anyone whose family has been in the United States for 200-300 years.

    With all that being said, I was really curious about the Africa Southeastern Bantu because ancestryDNA provides a very large and broad region for where this ancestry could come from. I looked at the list of primary locations Ancestry provides and the only ones I could recall being a part of the Transatlantic Slave Trade was Angola and Mozambique to a lesser extent. Nonetheless, I decided to upload my DNA raw data to MyHeritage, WeGene, DNA.LAND, and GEDMatch just to see if they picked up on similar things. Unsurprisingly, they picked up on the west and central african heritage (with several of the admixture calculators on GEDMatch picking up on pygmy/mbuti/congolese ancestry), and the european heritage (often just interpreting it as western or northern european). What was surprising to me was that they kept consistently picking up on East African and East/Southeast Asian ancestry. MyHeritage, DNA.Land, and many of the admixture calculators on GEDMatch kept labeling the East African ancestry Kenyan (luhya or masaai in some cases) and WeGene labeled it BantuSA and Somali. And now I am completely baffled and wondering if maybe the Africa Southeastern Bantu DNA that ancestryDNA was picking up on could also be actual southeast african ancestry in addition to Angolan ancestry? Of course this is all speculation, but as far as I know, Kenya was not a part of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and obviously WeGene just labels all East African DNA as Somali, so do you think it is likely that myheritage, dna.land, WeGene, and GedMatch are picking up traces of ancestry from Mozambique or maybe Madagascar because of the Asian ancestry? I noticed that some of my cousins on my moms side of the family who showed up in my DNA matches also had Africa Southeastern Bantu in addition to Asia East/Melanesia/Polynesia in their trace regions and we have no known Asian ancestors in my family.

    Do you have any suggestions for how I could further investigate this Africa Southeastern Bantu/possible East African ancestry?

    Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ch24, thank you for your comment, i’m glad my blog has been useful to you! African Americans show a great deal of individual variation in their AncestryDNA results. Especially your 22% socalled “Mali” would indeed be in the higher range. To get an idea of what might be more “typical”  or rather uncommon you might want check out my survey results for 350 African American AncestryDNA results:

      African American AncestryDNA results

      About your “Asia East” score. In the absence of any concrete indication of Asian ancestry and if it’s also only reported as a trace region or low confidence region i would assume it’s a misreading of actual Native American DNA. Because of their ancient origins from Siberia it’s not always possible to make the distinction (this also goes for “Asia Central”). I will blog about Native American DNA eventually. You can however already check out this page featuring East Asian, Southeast Asian & Polynesian AncestryDNA results:

      East Asian AncestryDNA results

      In regards to your 11% socalled “Southeastern Bantu” score. I agree with you that historical plausibility should be leading when wanting to make any sense of this potentially very wideranging region. Aside from Angola and Mozambique i would think that also Madagascar and possibly other Bantu speaking countries such as the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi could be connected with this score, given that you are African American. See also this page:

      Central & Southern African AncestryDNA results

      I tend to be very wary about the socalled East African scores reported on thirdparty platforms such as Gedmatch or DNALand for African Americans and other Afro-Diasporans from the Americas.  I strongly feel that any socalled “East African” label when used in DNA testing should always be critically scrutinized. You have to keep in mind that actual West Africans also receive such scores on Gedmatch and are not described as 100% “West African”. If not some fluke or misreading it most likely represents VERY ancient population migrations across the continent (going back millennia instead of centuries). Irrelevant from a genealogical perspective (last 500 years or so).

      From my ongoing AncestryDNA survey i have learnt that Northeast African origins are described by AncestryDNA as a combination of “Southeast Bantu” as well as substiantial amounts of “Africa North”  *and* “Middle East”. If your results don’t show those last two components above trace level you can be almost positive you don’t have any recent or substantial connection with Northeast Africa. And instead it will be indeed Bantu speaking origins from Central or Southern Africa. As is also in line with plentiful historical documentation and cultural retention.

      Finding African DNA matches might enhance any corroboration and zooming into your “Southeastern Bantu” score. So my advise to you would be to systematically scan and filter your DNA matches according to this tutorial i blogged about last year. If you should get stuck at any of the steps please do not hesitate to ask for assistance!

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry


  18. Thank you for this post. I have found your website very helpful. I took the AncestryDNA test, then I uploaded my raw data into GedMatch. GedMatch shows that my DNA matches VERY closely with Northeast Bantu. Do you think this is probably inaccurate? I’m African American so I’m not understanding a connection with Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda considering the slaves were not taken from those countries. My Ancestry DNA results show 10% Southeastern Bantu, with the highest percentage of my DNA coming from the Cameroon/Congo region. I just can’t seem to connect the dots!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jas, thanks for your comment! Indeed i think this outcome on Gedmatch is probably inaccurate. From what i have seen such socalled “East African” scores are being reported almost for all Afro-Diasporans actually, even when historically we know that this kind of ancestral contribution on such a scale is practically impossible. Because slave trade from places to the north of Mozambique into the Americas was nearly nonexistent and at any rate just a drop in the ocean when compared with slave trade from West, Central and Southeast Africa. I therefore take such results with a huge grain of salt and in case of the East African scores i’m pretty sure they are invalid for almost all Afro-Diasporans and will dissappear when better fitting Bantu samples from Angola and Mozambique will eventually will be available.

      However given your 10% Southeastern Bantu as well as substantial “Cameroon/Congo” i do believe this definitely counts as a major lead for which it could be very beneficial to perform follow-up research. First of all i would advise you to actively start searching for African matches which might possibly provide you with greater specificity. See:

      How to find those elusive African DNA matches on Ancestry

      Furthermore it is good to keep in mind that despite the labeling socalled “Southeastern Bantu” can actually also imply Central African DNA. Historical plausibility should be leading when wanting to make any sense of this potentially very wideranging region. Aside from Angola and Mozambique i would think that also Madagascar and possibly other Bantu speaking countries such as the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi could be connected with this score, given that you are African American. See also these pages:

      Central & Southern African AncestryDNA results
      Ethnic Origins of South Carolina Runaway Slaves


  19. My grandfather came from Nigeria. My DNA has Benin/Toga as well as other countries. How would I go about finding his family in Nigeria. My name is Pamela Kesia Owens-Lee


  20. Hi! I just received my AncestryDNA results. It was as follows:
    40% Ivory Coast/Ghana
    15% Great Britain
    13% Cameroon/Congo
    8% African Southeastern Bantu
    3% Native American

    I’m so confused and not sure what this information means. My last name is clearly Spanish – Purto Rican/Dominican but I have no markers from the Iberian Peninsula. I’ve uploaded my information to GEDMatch and and hoping for clarity. Can you provide any insight?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tiffany, where is your family from? Are both of your parents from the same nationality? Did you receive any “migration” (formerly known as genetic community) specifying your more recent background? The interpretation of your results might be different all according to whether you perhaps also may be partially African American or West Indian.

      Generally speaking 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”.

      DNA testing is revealing that ethnicity usually cannot be distilled into one single category, unless you happen to be a perfect match to the samples your DNA is being compared to. Instead typically most nationalities/ethnic groups will be described as a composite or blending of neighbouring and interrelated ancestral categories. This might be confusing at first but does actually make sense if you take into consideration the genetic impact of ancient migrations and inter-ethnic mixing throughout the ages.

      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 40% socalled “Ivory Coast/Ghana’!

      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 multiple individual African born ancestors who had offspring in the Americas. 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 40% score. Keep in mind that the genetic inheritance of an ancestor from the 1700’s will usually be around 1%! For more details on how to perform follow-up research (local history, DNA matches etc.):

      “Ivory Coast/Ghana” also describes Liberian DNA


    • Hi Tiffany,

      I am from Latin America as well. About last name, I could add to you that in several places the colonizers from the Iberian Peninsula used to give last names to African slaves after abolition or to natives as well. In Brazil those “last names” usually refer to the slave owners, religiosity, name of Iberian cities and even name of trees.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Fonte_Felipe. Hoi mijn naam is Shaquille en ik ben half Arubaans half Antilliaans, ik ben sinds gisteren bezig geweest met een spreadsheet van Haplogroepen wat voorkomt in de Nederlandse Antillen. Ik zie dat er inderdaad erg weinig genetische studies waren gedaan op mensen van Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Saba en Sint Eustatius. Ik hoop dat ik daar ooit verandering in kan brengen haha.


    Dit was mijn post op 23andmeforums: https://www.23andmeforums.com/discussion/17886/haplogroups-dutch-caribbean-spreadsheet#latest

    For now it looks:
    No African paternal haplogroups (would be high)
    No Amerindian paternal haplogroups (Could be very well present, but will be a minority)
    European y-dna and African mtdna being the majority

    What I suspect what will change if more people will do a dna test:
    The SSA haplogroups to be way higher, especially the mtdna.
    Amerindian mtdna to be more higher (especially in ABC islands)
    European y-dna to more predominant then African y-dna
    Non-SSA, Non-Euro, Non-Amerindian haplogroups to be higher, since the ABC islands (SSS not so much) are more multicultural/racial.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hey, Fontefelipe, I want to copy and paste something I recently said on Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/AncestryDNA/comments/8uyqy9/have_any_africanamericans_received_the_most/

    One of my testers has the preview update.

    **Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu Peoples36%**Increased by 11%

    **Mali23%**Increased by 21%

    England and Wales NEW14% **Benin/Togo11%**Increased by 9%

    **Senegal6%**Decreased by 14%

    **Ivory Coast/Ghana4%**Decreased by 14%

    **Ireland and Scotland3%**Increased by 3%

    **Germanic Europe2%Refined from:**Europe West 16%

    **Sweden1%Refined from:**Scandinavia <1%

    South Carolina African Americans

    No Longer in Estimate
    Help Africa Southeastern Bantu 9%

    Nigeria 2%

    Caucasus 2%

    European Jewish <1%

    Europe South <1%

    Asia South <1%
    The previous version is




    Ivory Coast/Ghana18%

    Africa Southeastern Bantu9%

    Trace Regions6%




    Asia< 1%

    Trace Regions< 1%

    Asia South< 1%


    Europe West16%

    Trace Regions3%

    Ireland< 1%

    Scandinavia< 1%

    European Jewish< 1%

    Italy/Greece< 1%

    West Asia2%

    Trace Regions2%


    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hello Fonte, I have a question in regards to My Heritage DNA, are you familiar with it? These are the results that this platform gave me.

    West Africa
    Sierra Leonean
    East Africa
    North Africa
    North African
    North and West Europe
    Irish, Scottish, and Welsh
    East Europe
    East European
    South Europe
    South Asia
    South Asian
    East Asia


    • Hi there , i have not done any detailed analysis of My Heritage. But basically you will need to learn more about their African sample database as well as how each African region they have in place is defined by these samples. After all your admixture results are a reflection of how your own DNA compares with these samples according to MyHeritage’s algorithm. It not meant to be a conclusive report on your true ancestry!


  24. Love the content. I recommend updating the blog with the current Ancestry admixture algorithm, which is presently being rolled it to all users. It would be helpful.

    It will be great if you could lend your insight to the impact of their recategoirzation. I’d love to help if needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Your work here is tremendous. Thank you. I have longed to be better informed and connected with African roots. My African DNA percentage is 84%. 41% is Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu, 25% is Benin & Togo, 8% is Mali, and 8% Scottish-Irish. I recognize Ancestry is not designed to place you with a particular African group, however I would like your thoughts regarding my possible African ancestral group(s).

    Thank you for your time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you African American? The Cameroon/Congo/Southeastern Bantu (West-Central Africa) seems very high relative to your West African ancestry.


    • Thanks for the appreciation! It seems you have already received the updated version of AncestryDNA’s “ethnicity estimates”. As I have argued elsewhere I highly suspect this update will NOT be an improvement, at least in regards to the African breakdown. But regrettably it might lead to less insight into the African regional roots of Afro-descendants and actual Africans. Like you said yourself this type of admixture analysis is not designed to pinpoint actual ethnic lineage. In the last past years I did find that regionally speaking the previous version of AncestryDNA was reasonably in line with either historical plausibility or actual verifiable genealogy. Despite several shortcomings as well as the continued need for correct interpretation. However I fear that this will no longer be the case after the update. Or at least to a much lesser degree…

      If Ancestry asks you about your feedback please forward them this link (when in agreement of course 😉 ):

      Suggestions for improving the African breakdown on AncestryDNA

      I will need more data about this update to make any sound judgement. But it’s quite likely that your “Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu” and “Benin/Togo” scores are inflated while your true degree of Nigerian lineage might be seriously underestimated in this breakdown. My advise to you is to do more research into the relevant historical context (depending on where your family’s from going back as far as you can trace): see also this overview:


      Furthermore having a systematic look into your DNA matches in order to find African DNA cousins will also be very helpful to get a better idea about your African lineage:



  26. I wanted to share my previous DNA ethnicity estimate in light of your thoughts on the updated version. Below are the results.

    Ethnicity Updates

    LatestPrevious FAQ

    Your Jan 2016 Estimate







    Ivory Coast/Ghana










    Africa Southeastern Bantu


    Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers


    Iberian Peninsula


    Great Britain


    Europe South


    European Jewish


    Europe West


    Finland/Northwest Russia


    Europe East




    3,000 Reference Samples

    363 Total Regions


    Anthony Jackson


    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh goodness. Yes, the old numbers make much, much more sense. What it looks like is that they gave nearly all of your Nigeria to the new combined West-Central Africa and Southern African region. Even if your Nigeria ancestors are the Bantu/Semi-Bantu people on the easterna and southeastern border of the country, their numbers are small enough that it’s highly unlikely that all of your Nigerian ancestry is from that region, so they should not be combined it with the old “Cameroon/Congo” region. You are very likely much more West African than this new update is showing.

      What a mess. It makes me scared to see how my numbers will change. lol

      Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, goodie! Thanks so much for this. Here are my old results:

          Ivory Coast/Ghana: 22%
          Scandinavia: 16%
          Cameroon/Congo: 14%
          Benin/Togo: 12%
          Iberian Peninsula: 9%
          Mali: 8%

          Low Confidence:

          Great Britain: 4%
          Senegal: 3%
          Europe West: 3%
          Caucasus: 3%
          African Southeastern Bantu: 2%
          Ireland/Scotland/Wales: 2%
          Nigeria: 1%
          Europe East: <1%

          New Results:

          Benin/Togo: 29%
          Anglo Saxon: 26%
          Cameroon/Congo: 21%
          Ivory Coast/Ghana: 8%
          Germany 7%
          Mali: 5%
          Norway: 2%
          Celtic: 1%
          Spain: 1%

          Seems they don’t have “low confidence” cateogries, anymore, or did I just not get them.

          These are…surprisingly closer to what I have documented than the last estimates, at least for Europe as we suspected. Looks like they’ve correctly put the “Scandinavian” into “Anglo Saxon,” and taken down the ridiculously high “Iberian Peninsula” to 1% Spain Even in Africa, they’ve taken down the “Ivory Coast/Ghana” to a number you’d more expect for an African American like myself.

          I guess like most other people with significant African descent, the Benin/Togo number is too high, and it totally got rid of my Nigerian, which while already low was a bit surprising given how many people I’m connected to an Ancestry who have ancestry from Nigeria. In any case, far better than I was expecting. I’d love to see the new maps for me personally as opposed to all grouped up to where you can’t discern them. For instance what Anglo Saxon covers and doesn’t cover. I’ll have to do this with my grandmother’s results, too. I’m also awaiting my dad’s results (finally got him to do it.)


          • They seem to have placed my grandmother better, too (and actually found her claimed Native American!). But, that’s not a big surprised given that she has significantly more European ancestry than I do:

            Old Results:

            Benin/Togo: 20%
            Mali: 13%
            Iberian Peninsula: 12%
            Cameroon/Congo: 10%
            Ireland/Scotland/Wales: 9%
            Great Britain: 9%
            Ivory Coast/Ghana: 6%

            She honestly has more lower confidence regions than I’m willing to post, right now. Suffice it to say the only other African region was African Southeastern Bantu at 2%. All the rest were European and Asian, and all but 2 of these low confidence regions scored higher than 2% (Europe East at 5% and Europe West at 4%). Anyway, the new numbers:

            Anglo Saxon: 37%
            Cameroon/Congo: 24%
            Benin/Togo: 19%
            Mali: 7%
            Ivory Coast/Ghana: 4%
            Celtic: 3%
            Sweden: 2%
            Baltic: 2%
            Italy: 1%
            AmericanN(ative?): 1%

            So, it looks like the big mistake they are making is overstating Benin/Togo and Cameroon/Congo for Africans. But the regions west of Benin/Togo may (or may not) be more accurate for most African Americans. Still can’t really tell without a Sierra Leone or Liberia category. Actually, Benin/Togo may not be TOO overrepresented for African Americans in this new version knowing how big of a port this was to North America, right?

            As for Europe and specifically those with British heritage, I think they’ve finally gotten it right by consolidating all of the false “Scandinavian” and “Iberian Peninsula” percentages into Anglo Saxon. I’m betting “Iberian Peninsula” was measuring the ancient British (prior to both the Anglo Saxon and Norman invasions), in which those people were also present in coastal Spain, France and Portugal. I think they’ve probably also better nailed down Irish ancestry, which is more distinct than most Western European DNA. Anyway, I knew my grandmother like myself were far more English than Irish and that seems to have been confirmed.


            • Yes it seems the European breakdown is definitely an improvement. Socalled “AngloSaxon” being a programming code for the new region “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” which actually also includes the Netherlands, Belgium and neighbouring parts of France & Germany.

              About the African breakdown i’m less cheerful as I have now also seen the updated results of actual Senegambians, Ghanaians, Liberians, Nigerians, Central Africans, East Africans, Southern Africans etc., all people who are sharing profiles with me. In most cases the new breakdowns look less informative than they used to be. I will blog about it as soon as I know that this update will be final and after it has been rolled out to everyone.


                • I understand. YMMV. I’ve been with with Ancestry for over 12 years. I’ve seen it evolve. Not looking for 100% accuracy as that does not exist. It would say though that it helped many with their journey. I’ve led many a group where this has been the case. Nothing wrong with seeking improvement. Testing companies make adjustments with new insights along the way. I hope the evolution continues. So, the logic is basically this (2×2):
                  – old algorithm was wrong, new algorithm is worse
                  – old algorithm was wrong, new algorithm is better and represents their population
                  – old algorithm was right, new algorithm is worse
                  – old algorithm was right, new algorithm is better and represents their population

                  If it is the 4th, they are acknowledging what they know today. If it is the 3rd, they better create a incident report and stop the rollout.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Yes I agree given sufficient indications that their new algorithm’s performance is worse than it used to be they should stop the rollout. At least in regards to the African breakdown. Regrettably Ancestry’s communication about this update has been very minimal sofar… I would very much like to know if any additional West African samples have been added to their Reference Panel. And also how that may have impacted these newly updated results.

                    I do know that for the new region called “Eastern Africa” most likely Luhya samples from Kenya are now being used. As this is showing up as the code name when having a preview of updated results for East Africans. Most likely also Sandawe samples from Tanzania have been added as an extra Hunter-Gather population. In my opinion very much irrelevant even though they are a fascinating group. From what I’ve seen it is resulting in highly distorted African breakdowns for East and Southern Africans.

                    Given the composition of Ancestry’s customers of African descent I would have expected that adding historically relevant samples from western & central Africa would have been a priority…


  27. Hello Fonte Felipe,
    Is a pleasure to engage with you finally even though I have Always admired project of this magnitude . I have known about your great work some 3 – 4 years ago when searching for my own ancestry. Now before I share my situation, do take note the purpose of this brief is to ask whether you have considered taking this project to the ‘ NEXT LEVEL ‘ in terms of making what you have done and continue to do into a ‘marketable product or an ‘ Online Service’ for the sake of posterity – which benefits All People of Colour including those of African descent from Europe, Canada, USA and Afro Latinos in South America. Please take note that though am not promising anything at this moment, but it is my intent to include and have done so in recent submission elsewhere for funding when the opportunity arose. I am NOT at liberty, in this open forum, to discuss further except to say that what you are doing is such an important project which CANNOT and MUST NOT be left for just Fonte Felipe to do or accomplish all by yourself using your own time and money for ALL of us. On a personal note, am happy to finally bring myself to write this email as i either forget or keep losing this site.
    I am happy to establish further contact,hopefully from you, to engage or discuss further away from public notice board.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Hi there,

    I have just ordered a test off of ancestry DNA and would like to offer my results to contribute to your research once I receive them. My parents are both Cape Verdean born with all four grandparents from the same island. I am really excited to learn a bit more about the African history in my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Hello,

    Let me say that your blog is amazing. So much information, it will take me quite a while to read understand what I read.

    I had my first AncestryDNA test back in 2008. I took the test again in late November this year 2018. The results are similar in some aspects yet vastly different in other results. The DNA test in 2008 made no mention of African roots. 2018 DNA test shows an African connection.

    I admit being a bit obsessive in trying to learn more about my Mali ancestry even though it is a small percentage in comparison to others you have noted on the blog, It is thrilling to me to say the least. It seems to answer questions that were covered or veiled in family ‘stories’.

    Where, in your blog or another place, would be the best place to start my learning process? I have studied my genealogy for almost forty years but not DNA so I am very new in this regard.

    Thank you for your blog and for sharing with everyone.

    Debra Saturday

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Wow! That is all I can say at this point, but will be back to say more! It is by divine providence that I found your site. I have been digging deeper into my ancestry for the past 3 yrs but have been at a roadblock for about a year. I had decided to cancel my ANcestryDNA subscription this month, but after finding your site, I a, encouraged to persist a bit more. Thank you for this obvious labor of love you have undertaken and for inviting others along on your journey. Many of my family members ask my why would I waste time looking into this. So happy to find a community of people who understand the passion and need to explore the past!! Blessing to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for this heartwarming message, Lisa! I’m humbled by your very kind words! I do indeed love performing this kind of research. But knowing that it’s also meaningful for other people makes it all the more worthwhile! Please do persist in your ancestral quest! As I mention on this page:

      Finding out about your ancestry can often be very daunting indeed. It takes a lot of perseverance, patience and luck. But I’ve found that when you finally get to learn something meaningful and verifiable it’s also very gratifying. Finding out you’re not alone in this quest is a true comfort and engaging in online discussions about this topic has always been very enriching for me and a great learning process.

      Have you tried yet searching for your African DNA cousins according to this tutorial I posted last year?


      I actually intend to provide an extra service on this blog in regards to finding & interpreting African matches on Ancestry. So stay tuned!


  31. Hello FonteFelipe,

    I wonder what is the African ethnic origins of Luis Advíncula and most Black Peruvians?
    Thank you!


    • Hi Xamza, you were right about this being a DNA orientated blog so I had to edit your comment. Hope you don’t mind! I do find this particular football player from Peru very interesting! I remember seeing him play during the World Cup and i wondered the same thing as you actually 🙂 I actually also looked up his hometown then and according to Wikipedia it is known for its Afro-Peruvian culture:


      I have not yet come across the DNA results of a Afro-Peruvian, but undoubtedly they will be varied. I am myself very curious to know to what extent the Upper Guinean founding effect I have described for Hispanic Americans and Meso America (see this blog post) might also be valid for Peru. There are several great books & studies about the ethnic origins of enslaved Africans in Peru. You have to keep in mind though that the composition would have changed in each time period.

      Just to name one reference which zooms into strictly Upper Guinean origins:
      “Ethnic Origins of Peruvian Slaves (1584-1650). Figures From Upper Guinea.”, Paideuma, (39), 57-110, Stephan Bühnen (1993).

      See this page for a few tables taken from that study:



  32. Hello, my results give :

    Nigeria 48%
    African Southeastern Bantu 41%
    African South-Central Hunter-Gatherers 11%

    All my parents and grandparents were born in the Congo. My maternal grandfather had very light skin.
    Your opinions ?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Hello FonteFelipe!

    I was hoping you could help me understand why my nigerian results are so low. I received my results March 15th and they show that I am 50% Benin/Togo, 47% Cameroon/Congo/Southern Bantu, and 3% Nigeria.

    Both my parents are Igbo people from Nigeria so i’m shocked by my low Nigerian score.

    Your thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Hello FonteFelipe !
    do you know 24genetics ? I just did a test at home, and the result seems quite detailed, even if I do not know their reference population. The test gives me a wide enough panel considering my origins:

    Nigeria 36.20%
    Benin 16.80%
    Zimbabwe 13.60%
    Ghana 8.20%
    Lesotho 8%
    Congo 5.60%
    Central Africa 5.40%
    Kenya 2.60%
    South Sudan 1.40%
    Mali 1%
    Tanzania 0.60%
    Botswana 0.20
    Niger 0.20
    South Africa 0.20%

    Your thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Serge, thanks for sharing . I do not think i have heard of this test yet. It seems very detailed indeed. Frankly a bit too detailed to my taste haha. I am very doubtful any reliable distinction could be made between lineage supposedly hailing from either Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana or Zimbabwe. Instead of a seemingly very exact country name labeling a more generic grouping under the label of “Southern African” would be more meaningful I would say.

      But indeed for a proper assessment you would need to know more about the Reference Populations, incl. also at which resolution these samples have been genotyped. Furthermore the specific algorithm being applied is likely to be heavily impacting on this outcome.

      In this blog post below I discuss the various pitfalls and dilemmas of admixture analysis, as well as the labeling of ancestral categories in greater detail:



  35. Hello, here is the result of the oracle of gedmatch to compare :

    The GEDmatch version of Oracle may give slightly different results from Dienekes version. The GEDmatch version uses FST weighting in its calculations.

    Admix Results (sorted):

    # Population Percent
    1 Sub_Saharan 89.21
    2 East_African 10.67

    Finished reading population data. 223 populations found.
    12 components mode.

    Least-squares method.

    Using 1 population approximation:
    1 Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP @ 0.000000
    2 Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP @ 0.754821
    3 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP @ 2.220794
    4 Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP @ 2.503469
    5 Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 2.731598
    6 Bantu_S.W._Ovambo_HGDP @ 6.125055
    7 Mandenka_HGDP @ 13.661225
    8 ASW30_HapMap3 @ 13.681998
    9 Yoruba_HGDP @ 15.175708
    10 YRI30_HGDP @ 15.175708
    11 Bantu_N.E._HGDP @ 16.785925
    12 LWK30_Behar @ 19.190065
    13 MKK30_Dodecad @ 81.311882
    14 Sandawe_He_Henn @ 82.955780
    15 Yemenese_Behar @ 92.944717
    16 Algerian_Dodecad @ 93.579132
    17 Egyptans_Behar @ 95.594498
    18 Moroccans_Behar @ 95.944099
    19 Uzbeks_Behar @ 98.611244
    20 Hazara_HGDP @ 99.504326

    Using 2 populations approximation:
    1 50% Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP +50% Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000

    Using 3 populations approximation:
    1 50% Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP +25% Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP +25% Bantu_S.W._Ovambo_HGDP @ 0.000000

    Using 4 populations approximation:
    1 Bantu_N.E._HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Yoruba_HGDP @ 0.000000
    2 Bantu_N.E._HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + YRI30_HGDP @ 0.000000
    3 Bantu_N.E._HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP + Yoruba_HGDP @ 0.000000
    4 Bantu_N.E._HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP + YRI30_HGDP @ 0.000000
    5 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Ovambo_HGDP @ 0.000000
    6 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000
    7 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Ovambo_HGDP @ 0.000000
    8 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000
    9 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP @ 0.000000
    10 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP @ 0.000000
    11 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000
    12 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000
    13 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Ovambo_HGDP + LWK30_Behar + Yoruba_HGDP @ 0.000000
    14 Bantu_S.E._Pedi_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Ovambo_HGDP + LWK30_Behar + YRI30_HGDP @ 0.000000
    15 Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP @ 0.000000
    16 Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP @ 0.000000
    17 Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP + LWK30_Behar + Yoruba_HGDP @ 0.000000
    18 Bantu_S.E._S.Sotho_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP + LWK30_Behar + YRI30_HGDP @ 0.000000
    19 Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000
    20 Bantu_S.E._Tswana_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP + Bantu_S.E._Zulu_HGDP + Bantu_S.W._Herero_HGDP @ 0.000000


    Thanks !


    • Hi Serge, interesting. But be very careful in taking these predictions too literally!

      Here’s my opinion about about Gedmatch: it is a very common misconception that its socalled Oracle predictions may depict shared ancestry with the listed reference populations. This is however NOT the case! It merely measures genetic similarity with a given selection of samples and not actual genealogical descent. These reference population might seem impressively specific and exact. However the truth is that your DNA is being compared to only a small and inherently limited subset of Africa’s VAST diversity which literally includes thousands of ethnic groups! (see this section of my blog: https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/maps/ethno-linguistic/ )

      In order for you establish a truly verifiable genetic connection with Africans it is best to search for autosomal African DNA matches. It will also help you put your regional breakdown into better perspective. See also this blogpost of mine:


      To be honest I have never taken much notice of Gedmatch and other third party websites because I found their ancestral categories not up to par with AncestryDNA (before the update) and also not with 23andme (after its most recent update). Going by other people’s reactions I also find Gedmatch to be highly confusing and potentially misleading because of the way their results are presented as seemingly very “precise” and “specific”. When in fact such a presumed accuracy cannot be attained with current DNA testing technology. AncestryDNA’s & 23andme’s country name labeling may be misleading as well, but on a different scale I would say. Especially since they do mention the limitations of their “estimates” and Ancestry also quite clearly illustrate the inevitable overlap with their regional maps.

      The labeling of ancestral categories is trickier than many people may realize. But I find it more reproachable when false hope is being generated of pinpointing a particular “tribe” based on the ethnic labeling of DNA scores which again are merely based on some measure of genetic similarity with a given selection of samples and not actual genealogical descent! The shakiness of these Oracle predictions is best revealed by simply experimenting with other calculators. You will quickly find that each time different results will appear. This variance being caused by the particular tweaking of algorithm and constellation with other reference populations! In other words nothing exact about it! And not really even indicative I would say going by the Gedmatch results of actual Africans i have seen which were usually off.


  36. @Fonte,

    I found this very interesting document on what claims to be indigenous Ewe in far-southwest Nigeria, particularly in Lagos State in the local government area of Badagry:

    Click to access The-History-of-Nigerian-Ewes.pdf

    I say very interesting, because I didn’t know that there were indigenuous Ewe in coastal Nigeria and the document points to that misconception. While I can not verify the veracity of the claims, they make a strong case for this population having been there for many centuries. Apparently, even while Ewe were originally pushed west (from the Yoruba homeland where they’d settled alongside as neighbors) into their current homeland split between Ghana and Togo, there was backflow to Nigeria where the culture originally formed.

    Anyway, sharing this as it further complicates DNA regions for the diaspora, as this now means we have Ewe stretching all the way from the southeast corner of Ghana to the southwest corner of Nigeria. It seems possible, then, that a not insignificant amount of people shipped from easter limits of the Bight of Benin could have been Ewe, but would have likely been classified as the Yoruba who sold them away. This is all just a theory of mine, but it doesn’t seem far-fetched, particularly as these Ewe lived along the coast of what is now Lagos State.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing! Yes there may have been many back & forth migrations indeed, which will result in genetic similarity across the board. For me this is also the first time I am hearing that a Ewe minority has been living in Lagos Nigeria (near the border with Benin). I have read elsewhere they have adopted many Yoruba customs, which seems natural. Undoubtedly across the centuries many people in this area (and elsewhere) have also just given up their previous ethnic identities, either by cultural assimilation or also intermarriage.


      • Yes, like I said, some people doubt or even deny that these people are actually Ewe, or agree that if they are Ewe that they are relatively recent migrants. I can’t say one way or the other if their claim to Ewe ancestry is true or not; I bet a lot of that debate is political, and I have no idea about the inter-ethnic debates that go on in Nigeria. But it strikes me that their claim could easily be true. It’s a really interesting theory, nonetheless.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some more very interesting news about black history in the United States. Researchers think they have finally found the last slave ship to transport Africans to the United States:


        The Clotilda (illegally) brought dozens of slaves to Alabama in 1861 right before the Civil War, and in fact, the captain was prosecuted for illegal transport of slaves to the county as the trans-atlantic trade had been banned abolished earlier in the century to keep numbers down in the country. He was let off as he’d burned the ship to destroy the evidence.

        It’s of huge interest to African Americans because of the late date and the fact that the Africans were only slaves for approximately 5 years, so they retained most of their culture. At least two of the passengers provided fairly detailed information about their lives back in Africa, most notably Oluale Kossola A.K.A. “Cudjo Lewis.” We know that the 50 or so captives were captured by Dahomey raiders in present day Benin, and that they were Yoruba. Many later formed a settlement near Mobile, Alabama (where they’d originally disembarked) and spoke Yoruba and kept many Yoruba customs. I have to make it down there one day to find out what happened to their descendants.

        Anyway, I’m sending to you as I think it’s relevant for this site. It’s yet another example of how one can’t take the name of regions in DNA tests – particularly Ancestry – to literally. I’d imagine had we been able to test them, they’d probably have shown up primarily as “Benin/Togo” (maybe even as “Cameroon/Congo” on Ancestry despite being Yoruba. They’d have probably shown very little “Nigerian” despite being Yoruba.

        Liked by 1 person

          • There were reports in January 2018 that they’d maybe found it, and then by March the same researcher announced the ship was too large to be the Clotilda. The thing about the Clotilda was that it was specially built, so there was no other ship built in that region like it, which made it easy to identify:


            BTW, one of the ancestors of this group of Yoruba people? Questlove of the American hip-hop group The Roots:


            Liked by 1 person

          • I have one additional question. I wasn’t quite sure where to ask. I have someone with the surname “Ekwuocha” in my matches, though she has not be back on her Ancestry page in months so I haven’t been able to ask her. Would you happen to know the ethnic origin for this surname? I sounded distinctly Nigerian to me, but random searches haven’t turned up anything that would point to its origins, surprisingly. Her regions are 53% Benin/Togo, 39% Cameroon, Congo, and Southern Bantu Peoples, and 8% Nigerian. I still think it sounds Nigerian, but couldn’t place it with either the Yoruba nor the Igbo so perhaps it’s a small group.


            • Not sure frankly but it does seem more Igbo than Yoruba to me. What I often do when I’m looking for a plausible background for a particular surname is just simply entering it in Facebook. By going over the locations mentioned for most profiles you’re usually already going to get a strong indication. Although of course you do have to keep in mind that people migrate all the time also within countries. Especially big cities will often be multi-ethnic (Lagos!). However going by this method Ekwuocha seems to be more so current in southeast Nigeria (Anambra state) and a Igbo or related ethnic background is quite likely.


              • Thanks for this. And it makes further sense since all of my Nigerian matches thus far have been either Igbo (the vast majority) or related groups in the southeast. So it seems somewhere along in the slave trade and migrations in the U.S. I must have picked up quite a bit of southeastern Nigerian ancestry.

                I’m kind of surprised how strongly this ancestry seems to be coming through in my matches, particularly given my largest African region (on Ancestry) is Benin/Togo.


  37. Excellent work! I appreciate the time and detail! My family is from Jamaica WI, and I just received my ancestry results. Benin/Togo and Cameroon etc made up just about 80%. But like you said, you really have to dig deep. Any recommendations if you want to go to Africa and you get a report like that which region to go to?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lauraine! For most Jamaicans as well as other Afro-descendants it will be various regions to visit when you want to go to your ancestral locations within Africa. It will almost never be just one single ancestral location let alone one single ethnic group you are descended from. As by default Afro-descendants will have multiple origins from across West & Central Africa and at times also to a minor degree Southeastern Africa.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that the modernday country name labeling on Ancestry is not to be taken too literally! Rather have a look at how actual Africans are scoring when doing these tests. Also take into account the maps and regional descriptions given by Ancestry to get an idea of what your regional scores might really imply.

      Having said all that I do think with correct interpretation and by combining also with your African DNA matches you can get a 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 Ancestry.com 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:



  38. Hello, I love your blog. I am researching dna results for groups all around the world. I was surprised to see so much European dna in the West African 23andme results. Could you explain this further? Is this the norm in those countries? Do most of the people there get those results or just a small percentage? Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Courtney! My African 23andme survey is based on the results which have been shared with me. From what I’ve learnt over the years African DNA testers tend to be migrants (or their children) living in either North America or West Europe (sometimes even Australia!). They are mostly from a well to do background and at times they also have noticeable European admixture indeed. Sometimes going back to a grandparent or else a great-grandparent or even further back. This would be atypical when looking at the general population but is probably to be explained because of their particular family history.

      By the way several results were also for persons with one African parent and one European parent. These people were probably not even born in Africa. But they also influenced the group averages. Because I am focusing on the African breakdown (which I scale to 100%) the results are still inter-comparable. I also used such very recently mixed results because I actually find that especially in these cases 23andme’s update really shows it added value. And such outcomes may also (cautiously) be seen as encouraging for Afro-Diasporans.

      See also footnote 7 of that blog article and the various screenshots of mixed people:



      • Thank you for responding so fast. I have noticed that you have another section that presents results from Ancestry DNA for West Africans, and in this case I don’t see any European DNA. What is the difference between this methodology and the 23andme methods where so many testers tended to be from outside Africa showing a lot of European DNA? Thank you again 🙂 .


        • Hi Courtney,

          Even though several of my 23andme results did show recent European admixture they are still a small minority overall: about 15 of 165 persons in total (excl. South African Coloureds). You can verify for yourself in my sheet as they are indicated by an asterix (*). Again because I scaled their African breakdown to 100% this does not affect my overall analysis.


          The main reason for their more notable presence in my 23andme survey could simply be increased availability of African testers on Ancestry willing to share their results with me. Most of the people who shared their results on 23andme with me did this years ago. As i first started gathering African results already in 2011! At that time very few African customers were taking DNA tests. The African AncestryDNA results were collected much later, mostly in 2017-2018.

          For more details see also footnote 4 on this page:



  39. Hey, Fonte.

    I saw you speaking French on another post, and it got me curious as to how many languages you speak, either fluently or conversationally? I know you are fluent in English and French, and I’d imagine Dutch, too, since you told me this is where you were raised (born?), correct? How did you come by learning English and French?

    It is an unfortunate situation here in the U.S.; most schools do not require you to learn even a second language to graduate high/secondary school, and I regret having never formally took classes to learn any. However, living in the U.S. these days, it’s pretty easy (and very useful) to pick up conversational Spanish, which I know a bit. I also self-taught some French after having visited there on a high school trip, once. There is also a very large Arabic population – lots of Lebanese, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis – in the state Iive, so schools teach it as a second language, but I only know one word of the language. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha well my spoken French is a bit rusty actually but I do understand it well enough when in writing. Dutch is my native tongue indeed, aside from French and English I can also speak German, Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole. My Spanish is basic but still quite decent because it is similar to Portuguese.

      It’s true that in the Netherlands you do get to learn more foreign languages when in high school. We used to have a reputation of being able to speak several languages which came in handy as the Netherlands is so much focused on international trade. But that kind of multilingualism is becoming a thing of the past as most people nowadays just go for English. Which has sadly become very prominent, at times even replacing Dutch as a first language in universities.


      • Speaking of creoles, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I understood that the language my grandfather spoke – or rather words and phrases he’d from time to time with us – was Geechee, an English creole from the Lowcountry on South Carolina and Georgia. I look back now, and got the sense he was kind of ashamed of the language; I’m sure in his day it was stigmatized as “bad” English when it was really a creole language. And I wish he hadn’t been, because I’d have loved to learn it fluently.


        • Interesting! I’ve read about that stigmatization too. It happens with many minority and often endangered languages around the world I suppose. Really sad when languages do not get passed on to younger generations.

          I’ve blogged about Geechee a few years ago:

          As I find its African retention really fascinating. But possibly also illustrative of how cultural inheritance will not always be perfectly in line with genetic inheritance. Although from my Ancestry survey I did find increased levels of Upper Guinean and Central African regional scores for my South Carolina and even more so Gullah survey participants. So it appears there might indeed be a positive correlation! I am very curious to find out if my current 23andme survey will produce similar outcomes.


          • Interesting. I do see the SSA Breakdowns for South Carolina & Georgia (and the Gullah subset) vs. all African Americans in your study, and the Gullah do seem to show a marked increase in Mali-Senegal and Cameroon/Congo. Like you said, the 23andMe survey will probably be even better at showing this, hopefully.

            Is the study you did using the AncestryDNA results for this version of it or for the previous? I wonder how that would affect things?


            • It was based on the previous version. The current version would undoubtedly show many distortions and not be helpful at all in my attempt to uncover some of the interstate variation based on historically different slave trade patterns.


    • Hi Vanita, thanks a lot for the appreciation! It is always a joy to find out my blog can be helpful for others! I checked out your own blog btw and I am impressed! Very inspirational. Stay blessed!


  40. Finally got my updates back for me and my two other family members for AncestryDNA! Observations:

    Nigeria is now the top African region for all three of us. Before my top region was Benin/Togo (29%), and my two direct paternal relatives where Cameroon/Congo. My change was bigger than there’s from previous versions. I had 1% Nigeria in 2013-2018 and 0% Nigeria in 2018-2019. It’s now a full 30% of my ancestry. My Benin & Togo dropped to 9%. For me, this much Nigeria actually makes since knowing that my maternal side seems to be heavily early Virginian, and then further with all of my Nigerian matches being Igbo or related peoples. I suspect for most customers, though, this might have ended up overstating true Nigerian ancestry. Though, it must be noted a lot of what we’d now call Nigerian peoples migrated west not that long ago into Benin and Togo and have been there for hundreds of years. It’s possible a lot of “Benin/Togo” are actually Yoruba in those countries or mixed groups that broke off and formed their own new groups.
    The new update preserved my paternal relative’s minimal Native American ancestry, which was missing from the 2013-2018 version. I suspect they’ve gotten better for North American indigenous peoples, and now have better/more accurate regions for them.
    The new update has also preserved my paternal relative’s minimal Upper Guinea ancestry. Both of them are 2% Senegal, and now I’ve got 1%, which brings me back closer to the 3% I got in the 2013-2018 version. All three of our Mali region has remained relatively stable despite the significant change the region linking it with the countries to the southeast.
    As for Europe, the only big changes I’ve seen with my three accounts is that the 2018-2019 version may have been slightly overestimating English ancestry, as it seems now it’s decreased at the expense of growing Germanic Europe. Knowing the historical migrations from Germany, though, this doesn’t particularly surprise me, though I do question if we’ll ever be able to differnentiate between the two regions decivisely given that I hear that they are very similar genetically. Both of my paternal relatives are now showing very minimal Germanic Europe at the expense of their predominantly English ancestry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I received my update this evening. Interesting that my Mali shot way up (to 10%). Then…I’m also surprised to see my Ghana go way far down and that Ghana shows a variance range from 0% to 31%!!! They have a long way to go. That is not at all statistically significant. Ancestry still disappoints me. They’re exhausting.

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Hi there !
    First of all I love your work :). I have been looking at your website for awhile now and I can’t quite find any tribe or group that fits my dna. These are my results (the current ones haha) :

    Ethnicity Estimate -AncestryDNA

    Cameroon, Congo & Southern Bantu Peoples
    Ireland & Scotland
    England, Wales & Northwestern Europe
    Benin & Togo
    Germanic Europe

    Can you please help me out with this ? I have a great deal of Nigerian.

    Love and light ,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rue,

      Thanks a lot for the appreciation! I don’t know when you tested originally but you may already have noticed that with each update on Ancestry there have been some wild fluctuations within the Africa breakdown 😉 Although you would expect any update to bring major improvement this is unfortunately not always the case…

      I cannot tell you your ethnic group because it will be multiple ethnic groups you descend from and not just one single one. Similar to practically all Afro-descendants it will be various regions to visit when you want to go to your ancestral locations within Africa. It will almost never be just one single ancestral location let alone one single ethnic group you are descended from. As by default Afro-descendants will have multiple origins from across West & Central Africa and at times also to a minor degree Southeastern Africa.

      Having said all that I do think with correct interpretation and by combining also with your African DNA matches you can get a 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 Ancestry.com 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:



  42. Hi Damon and FonteFelipe!

    I wrote in March that my results were 50% Benin/Togo, 47% Cameroon/Congo/Southern Bantu, and 3% Nigeria, which I was confused because both my parents are igbo-speaking Nigerians. I got an update from Ancestry the other day and my results now have me at 100% Nigerian. This makes much more sense to me. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So happy to see that AncestryDNA appears to finally have done right by Nigerians in redoing their “Nigeria” region, at least for southern Nigerians. Of my many Igbo matches, their results have also been corrected showing anywhere in between 90-100% “Nigeria.”

      Also, after having no “Nigeria” listed in the previous version of AncestryDNA, now have a full 30%, my largest African region. It makes more sense of what I know of the history of my ancestors in the United States. Having as many Igbo matches (and a Efik & Ibibio match) as I do confirmed that for me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mya, that’s great that you’re interested to learn more about your background! Many aspects to explore, depending also on how much your own family is able to tell you. Have you done any DNA testing already? I would definitely plan a trip to Cape Verde if you’ve not been there before. As nothing really beats the actual experience of being there!

      On my blog obviously I am mostly covering African aspects of Cape Verdean identity, usually from a genetic perspective. But really there’s so much else to it! Here’s an overview of all the blog posts I’ve done which concern Cape Verde:


      Do also check out this other website of mine:



  43. Pingback: DNA Analysis: Tracing the origin of West African ancestry in the Reeves, DeWitt, Hornbeck and affiliated families – GeneaExplorer

  44. Hey Felipe! Interacted with you on here in the past and I believe when we first joined 23andme, as we were one of the first Igbo Nigerian families who tested and prob have the largest number to date
    Saw an old post of yours about Jamaicans and Igbos and just came across my late dad’s most recent match who matches him at 0.56% which is super high to be non Igbo! From my experience over these years. Turns out he has Jamaican grand parents! Makes me curious to know if they were one of the late arrivals after the abolishing of slavery, and maybe recaptives, as some were also sent to Jamaica!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ada, that’s amazing! I know some Jamaicans actually do still remember their Recaptive ancestors from the mid-1800’s. Hopefully this person has some clarifying family lore.

      In my ongoing survey of African DNA matches reported for Afro-descendants the biggest match sofar has been 50cM. And that has been very exceptional because otherwise the second biggest match was around 30 cM. I find that even close matches of greater than 20cM are rather uncommon. But when it does happen like you say it could very well be traced to the 1800’s.

      Have you tried looking into any matches you have in common with this match? By looking into “Find Relatives in Common” and then focussing on the ones who share DNA on the very same spot you could possibly get more clues.


  45. Did you see this? I’d be interested in seeing the actual study.

    I’m kind of curious about the movement out of East Africa to West Africa, though. Are there any theories as to the route? I assume that the Sahara wasn’t quite as far south, then? I’m kind of familiar with the migration out of Africa south, as this created the Bantu peoples, but I’m less studied on the migrations that founded the West African populations to begin with.


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