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! This African country is probably furthest removed from Cape Verde out of all other African countries! 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:

For those wondering about my activities outside blogging. I still enjoy sharing experiences on various FB and other online communities catering to DNA tested Afro-descendants. Although the last few years admittedly less so. Because I also have a full time job to attend to 😉 In 2019 I was very honoured to contribute to a Dutch documentary series called “Identity”. This documentary was shot in my birth place Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The actual day of filming being the 5th of July which happens to be Cape Verde’s Day of Independence! Highly symbolic for me therefore! See also:

In the midst of the Corona pandemic I was very thrilled to be part of ROOTSTECH 2021. The world’s largest family-history technology conference. In my presentation I demonstrated my scanning and filtering method to zoom into African matches or any other type of lineage you are interested in researching. I originally devised this technique in 2017. And I have been using it ever since to conduct my ongoing African DNA matches surveys. In case you like to see the presentation here’s the link to the video which is still on Youtube (don’t mind my horrible accent :-):

Most recently in 2022 I was very proud to see one of my articles appearing in actual print! Being featured in Wi Rutu, a journal specializing in Surinamese genealogy. I was also extremely pleased with the reaction of readers who responded to my appeal for participating in my ongoing research. Hopefully in 2023 I will be able to blog about my survey findings. For those who know how to read Dutch you can order the article by way of this website. Or else you can also send me a PM:


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


151 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi Felipe,
    I came across your blog during the last month and it’s been a real revelation to me. I did an Ancestry DNA test and found out that I am roughly 45% African, 30% Indian, 15% South East Asian and 10% European. Being from Mauritius and what I already know from creating my family tree going back 4 generations, the result did not surprise me that much.
    However, it’s my African ancestry that really interests me. I am Mauritian creole with African roots mainly from Mozambique and via Madagascar with South East Asian admixture.
    It would be amazing if you could add a small ‘Indian Ocean Islands’ section to your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Lelio,

      Thank you for your kind words! I have been wanting to add a Indian Oceanic Diaspora section for a while now actually. However because of other projects I have not found the time yet 😉 I have already discussed the individual DNA test results for a few Indian Ocean Creoles, both on 23andme (see this link) and Ancestry (scroll down to “Indian Ocean Islander Results” on this page).

      But it has always been my intention to eventually also perform a more thorough analysis. Based on both regional admixture within Africa as well as associated African DNA matches. Preferably including atleast 20 survey participants from the region. If you would be willing to colloborate with me in this future effort I would be very grateful!

      In addition I also wish to create a separate page listing the documented African origins for Indian Ocean islanders as well as South African Coloureds in this section:


      If you should have any suggestions for good sources please let me know!

      Thanks in advance!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Felipe,

    I was sent to this blog from twitter; for the last hour i’ve been surfing through your blog and website and all I can say is I am amazed.

    I am a final year university student in London. I am writing to you to request an interview for an assignment I am working on. The central aim is to understand whether Direct-to-customer commercial ancestry services accurately reflect the full spectrum of human genetic variation and diversity; I am looking specifically at African Ancestry.

    I have been interviewing both geneticists and bioethicists at the moment, but I am looking for an emotional and experienced persons interview comments on taking ancestry tests as an african that is trying to in some way ‘reaffirm the lost identities of ancestors who were caught up in the most dehumanizing circumstances of slavery’.

    Your understanding of population genetics, Ancestry Direct-to-customer services and admixture biogeographics makes me reach out to you. Your experience and knowledge would exponentially better my article.

    This sentence- ‘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’- sums up many of the arguments in my article.

    Please let me know if you are willing to take up this request, and I will attach questions about the topic for you to read before committing to an interview; this would be via email.

    If you want to know more about my topic, I would be happy to send more information to you through email.

    I hope this interests you and I look forward to hearing back,

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you very much for the kind words! I am flattered to know you should want to take me into consideration. Your article certainly sounds very interesting and in line with the theme of my blog! Please check your email as I sent you a PM.

      This sentence- ‘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’- sums up many of the arguments in my article.

      This has indeed always been one of my main concerns. However I should add that I firmly believe that despite inherent limitations and given correct interpretation DNA testing (regional admixture estimates and African DNA matches) can be very useful as a stepping stone for follow-up research. And just to get a general idea of where most of your African ancestors hailed from. All according to the latest state of knowledge. Which naturally may be improved upon across time. Also of course each DNA testing company should be judged on its own merits. As there will often be variation in performance.

      I find it important though to stay positive and focus on whatever informational value you can obtain despite imperfections. Instead of taking a dismissive stance. As I always say I prefer to see the glass as half full rather than half empty 😉 You do need to make an effort yourself and stay engaged to gain more insight!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Felipe,

    Is there an email where I can send you some thoughts? I am hoping to explore DNA as it relates to those with Haitian ancestry for a nonprofit that serves those who have aged out of orphanages in Haiti and have zero information about their biological roots. Your blog is the first that came up when I googled this issue and hoped maybe you’d be willing to provide some guidance. I would be so very grateful!

    Thanks so much,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey FELIPE !! I’m saw your African data from Veracruz Mexico. I’m also from Veracruz Mexico and would love for you to add my results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, thanks for reaching out! My Mexican survey is actually already finished. But very cool that you’re from Veracruz, really interesting results from that area. I will be posting my findings about the African DNA matches I found on Ancestry for 10 Mexicans in a couple of months. So keep an eye out for that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Long time, no see.

    Just a heads up; Ancestry announced this month that they are doing another update. I also got around to finally doing 23&me, and I’m expecting my results from them sometime next week.

    BTW, would it be too much work to add a search function to this site? I was looking for an old post for some research I wanted to share with someone, but found it too difficult to go back through all of the threads to find what I was looking for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Damon, good to hear from you again! I’m not that excited about the Ancestry update to be frank..but we’ll see 😉 Very cool though that you did 23andme!. Let me know when you get your results in. Will be interesting to see how you fit in with my recent surveys based on African American 23andme results. Did you read this post yet?

      Are African Americans really mostly “Nigerian”?

      I added a search box, was easier than I thought lol. Let me know if it works. I tend to use the category search tool myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • From a quick search, it seems to work as well as it needs to.

        I have not yet had time to read it, but will definitely do so. Anyway, what do you know of the AncestryDNA update that doesn’t give you much hope in it? Is it just how often they’ve done it and the predictitive nature simply hasn’t improved?

        I will let you know when my 23andMe results come in. They were supposed to come in earlier this week, but haven’t yet.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I haven’t read that much about Ancestry’s upcoming update so they might yet surprise me. But from what I’ve heard sofar it might possibly only be one extra African region. Attempting to separate Egyptian DNA from generic Middle Eastern DNA. Which is of course welcome in itself but is not helpful at all for understanding the main lineage of Atlantic Afro-Diasporans!

          Apparently there’s also been one new genetic community for East Africa. Which again is great for those people of such descent. But I can’t help but notice that further specification of West and Central African DNA still seems far from being a priority…

          So again I hope I am wrong and Ancestry will still make some meaningful improvements in this regard. But otherwise my plea from last year to make Ancestry’s experience truly inclusive for everyone does not seem to have much effect yet. And it will just be a repeat show all over again lol!

          Ancestry’s new African Breakdown: merely cosmetic changes?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Got my results from 23andMe. For my European ancestry, I think perhaps it’s more in line with what I’ve been able to confirm by records, which is less “German” than Ancestry is showing me. Interestingly, my “Nigerian” is bang-on what Ancestry’s current version has me at; rounded, they both have be at 28% Nigerian.

            It’s also confirmed by “Mali” region on Ancestry has Liberian, as I have a fairly close Liberian match on 23andMe and have found more than one Liberian or Sierra Leonean match on Ancestry. Though, it picks up 5% Senegambian, too. So “Mali” on Ancestry is 5% vs. 14% “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” on 23andMe.

            My “Conglese/South East African” is a bit lower than on Ancestry – 7% vs. 10% – but in the range expected.

            What I don’t get is Ancestry’s Benin & Togo region? I can only imagine it has to overlap considerably with “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean”, even though 23andMe doesn’t mark it as such.

            Anyway, if you have any detailed stuff you need, just email me.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Damon, that’s great! If you’re cool with it you could send me a viewing link which you can create from the ancestry composition page (share button). Also very nice about the Liberian match! Have you checked to see if you have any shared matches in common? What I really appreciate about 23andme is that they give you more detailed information about the shared DNA you have in common with your matches, incl. also location and chromosome browser. Which can really boost your research for shared ancestors or placing a DNA match on a certain family branch.. Especially by way of triangulation.

              DNA from Benin & Togo and Gbe speakers in general is indeed split up between “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” and “Nigerian”. I discuss the results of an Ewe person from Ghana on this page:

              Update of 23andme’s African breakdown

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi FonteFelipe,
    Motivated by my own personal interest, I pulled data from over 4,000 Dominican profiles and over 1,000 unique Puerto Rican profiles and put them on a website for viewing. I looked at some of your data just to compare it and noticed that while our Senegambian is similar, the order is different in terms of averages. It really goes to show you that one sub-sample can not determine the full ancestry components of an entire population. Most of my samples were from the Cibao.
    Thanks for this excellent work and for motivating me to really delve into this further.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, thanks so much for reaching out! That’s really amazing research you have featured on your website! I love the additional context given for needed nuance. Also impressed by the graphics, charts, photo’s etc..

      Overall speaking I am seeing much overlap in our datasets but also a few differences indeed. I will respond in more detail in the comment section of this page below. So please have a look so we can continue our discussion over there:

      Dominican 23andme results


  7. Hey, Felipe,
    I love your page and run a rootz2go page on tiktok. I would like to connect with you via email and add my 23andme results too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kwame, thanks a lot for commenting. I had a look into your Tiktok page and I was impressed! Always nice to meet people who share the same passion for this topic!

      Thanks a lot for the offer to share your results! Did you test with Ancestry also by any chance? I am rather busy at this moment but eventually I would love to do a survey on the DNA matching patterns between West Africans and Trans-Atlantic Afro-descendants. Your participation as a Ghanaian will be very helpful!


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