Author: kwanzaa

Review On DNA Tests Tracing African Ancestry

Article 3 - Review On DNA Tests Tracing African Ancestry

After researching for a few months I had narrowed the search down to two Ancestry DNA testing companies. I really couldn’t decide so based on some great discount offers available at that time I chose to take my Ancestry DNA Test with both providers and used the results to try a third company as well.

I took the Ancestry DNA Tests with excitement and a few weeks later I compared the results. Two companies did give me a breakdown of my heritage but one lumped all of West Africa together?? Definitely not what I was hoping for. The other had a better range of regions but was still not to the standard of my number one recommendation. The clear winner for the best results report had 72 distinct regions in Africa with which to breakdown your Modern and Ancient African heritage. That was five times more than any other company!!!  So, who was it???? 

Ready to order? Need more details? Jump to Living DNA’s website. Click image below.

Click the image to jump straight to the website

Living DNA came up on top in all categories. It was the best company I tested in terms of giving me 1) an assurance of the security of my DNA, its data and the results report 2) a detailed breakdown of both my maternal and paternal African ancestral breakdown, both modern and ancient was Living DNA and 3) excellent value for money for a speedy service. 

The kit was simple to use, a swab with full instructions on how to perform the quick 5 minute process of taking the sample. The account which you open on the Living DNA website was also a 5 minute task necessary for you to obtain your test results. A prepaid envelope was provided to send back the sample and all for £79. It was excellent service with a two week turn around. 

We still would recommend you do your own research to decide on what is best to trace your heritage or family tree but encourage you to start with Living DNA and see where your journey takes you.

Why Take A DNA Test To Trace Your African Ancestry?

Article 2 - Why Take A DNA Test To Trace Your African Ancestry?

I thought about taking a DNA test to trace my African roots for years. Never ever getting around to it, then this year I added it to my New Year’s Resolution list at Kwanzaa 2019.

A few people asked, “Why bother?” and there was an air of skepticism “I don’t believe they work – especially for ‘Black’ people.”

So I started to ask around to see who had tried what test, I read articles, visited websites for details and begun to realise there were many issues surrounding taking a DNA test such as who stores and owns the DNA sample, who has access to that sample and for how long, will my data have privacy? It was not as simple as I first thought.

Most websites did openly state what kind of privacy and ownership one could expect from their service so it is just a case of due diligence and reading all the fine print before selection. That lead to the greater, more specific question for me, namely, “Which was the best test for African Ancestry and what could the results tell me?”

This question addresses the usefulness of taking a DNA test. The answer I found was that it depended on the accuracy and detail of the provider’s database. The more extensive the database the more you could get an idea of your ancient or modern ancestry.

Some sites just look at where your DNA is found presently in the world and so only go back a few hundred years. However, it was exciting to find other websites that looked at 500-2000 year old ancestry information and even older in some cases. This was my area of interest! So the search was on to see how much African ancient ancestry each company. I checked the number of African Ancestry DNA database sets that were used by each test provider to provide their detailed report. The majority were focused on detailing European heritage found in the tests.

I additionally noted that there are many ways in which African people are grouped, not just by country, in fact the migration of African people over millennia means that country borders created by Europeans are not that meaningful so more detail is required to see one’s heritage. Which part of Africa was my ancestors from, which language groups (see diagram) or which tribal group???

All questions that were waiting for an answer.

Several sites, if you give consent, will also use your DNA to find current family tree matches by comparing your DNA markers against other people who have also done their DNA test. This gives you a list of people related to you that have also registered with their services giving your family tree history a good boost. There are matches to famous people in your family line but I wasn’t really interested in what can be such distant relationships to people who are your 5th cousin!!

When I took my DNA test this year, I did get some interesting close matches to 2nd cousins on my maternal family tree who had moved country and so was unknown to my mother. She was very intrigued and motivated to do her own DNA test. This was proof for me that the DNA test was actually quite accurate to have found my mother’s cousins. So this is a useful avenue to trace your family tree with some confidence.

Now let’s look at which test was the winner for me in finding my Ancient African Ancestry in the next Article 3 – Review On DNA Tests Tracing African Ancestry.

How To Trace Your African Ancestry

Article 1 - How To Trace Your African Ancestry?

A life changing question particularly posed by those displaced by the African Holocaust during which millions of African families were separated for hundreds of years. Their descendants in South America, North America and Europe now have a great task ahead of them if they decide to find out the history of their African roots.

My personal journey of tracing my African Ancestors begun by starting with my family tree and working my way back as far as I could on both my maternal and paternal sides. It became a slow process once I arrived to the 1800s and yet I still eagerly wanted to find out where in Africa my ancestors were from – quite adamant in my mind that it would be from West Africa and North Africa from my travels. 

I began to travel to different places in Africa. The beauty of my visits to the Motherland was the oral history of the indigenous people and their knowledge of clans and tribes. Just by sight they were able to identify the group of people to which I was linked. However, I came back from Africa still yearning for some more evidence and wondered if I should maybe look at taking an Ancestry DNA test that could help shed some light as to the regions or people to whom I may be related to on the African Continent – See map for inspiration. But would a DNA Test really answer my questions? Read on…..

See my next article – Article 2 – Why Take A DNA Test To Trace Your African Ancestry?

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