"Your results are ready!"
.........was the message that came across my phone early one morning. It was an alert I had been waiting a month for. My 23andMe app let me know that my Ancestral DNA results were ready. I opened the app to see my family history tracked back far as the slave trade and beyond. It felt great to now be able to confirm where my family's from and my connection to the motherland -- Africa!
Growing up I was always curious about my family heritage. I would ask my mom about her grandparents and my grandparents about their grandparents. I wanted to know as much as I could, ya know, before it was too late. Little things like my mother being named after her grandmother "Betty" and more...
It was also important to me to know my connection to my ancestors who were brought here to be enslaved for hundreds of years and to the ancestors who lived even different lives before the slave trade.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade was a forced migration that carried nearly 400,000 Africans over to the colonies (Now the United States) ---- having a direct impact on two critical demographic factors that are especially important in genetics: migration and sex.
Once in North America, African slaves and their descendants mixed with whites of European ancestry, usually because enslaved black women were raped and exploited by white men. And, more recently, what’s known as the Great Migration dramatically re-shaped African-American demographics in the 20th century.
Between 1915 and 1970, six million blacks left the South and settled in the Northern, Midwestern, and Western states, in hope of finding opportunities for a better life.
Because of this and so many other factors, many African American families only know so much about their family history. For my family, I think a lot of things were past down, like culture, food, religion, etc., but I don't know a lot about my family history further back than great grandparents are great aunts/uncles.
That said, I wanted to know more. I wanted to feel the connection to my ancestors beyond just a few years ago but also to the slave trade and to the tribes in Africa. I want to feel like I came from something greater because I know that I do. That's why I did my 23 and Me test. Here are my results.
I am 91.6% Sub-Saharan African, with my highest DNA percentages being Nigerian (37.5%), Congolese (12.6%), and Ghanaian, Liberian, & Sierra Leonean (12.2%).
"Nigeria’s population is the largest in Africa and one of the most diverse, with over 250 ethnic groups. The country's arid north is home to people of mostly Hausa and Fulani descent, while the Yoruba people are concentrated in the southwest, the Ijaw people in the tropical south, and the Igbo people in the southeast. As much as two thirds of African-Americans' Sub-Saharan DNA may trace back to Nigerian ancestors, due to the disproportionate impact of the Atlantic slave trade on the people of the region."
"Beginning around 3,000 years ago, the genetic tapestry of the western Congo basin was transformed by the influx of Bantu-speaking peoples from the highlands of what is today Nigeria and Cameroon. More recently, Bantu speakers in the western Congo region established the historical Kingdom of Kongo, which flourished for over 500 years until its collapse at the hands of colonial powers in 1914. Today, Bantu-speaking peoples (such as the Kongo, Teke, Mbochi, and Sangha) are significant majorities in the countries bordering the Congo River."
"A continuum of genetic diversity stretches from Senegal to Nigeria, but the people of the coastal countries above the Gulf of Guinea — Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana — share a genetic similarity distinct from neighboring regions. The Temne people, who constitute the largest group in Sierra Leone, call this region home, as do the Mende people, who reside across West Africa. In neighboring Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the Akan peoples predominate."
Have you done your 23andMe? Do you want to know more about your family history? Share what you think in the comments or follow me on Instagram @danthonyJ and let's chat.