Why Take A DNA Test To Trace Your African Ancestry?

Why Take A DNA Test To Trace Your African Ancestry?

I through 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?”

The second question addresses the usefulness of taking a DNA test. The answer I found was that depending on the accuracy and detail of the provider’s database 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 going back a few hundred years but more excitedly for me, I found websites that looked at 500-2000 year old ancestry and older in some cases. This was my area of interest!

Several sites will also if you give consent use your DNA to find current family tree matches giving 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. 

Now let’s look at which tests did well for finding Ancient African Ancestry in my next article – Review On DNA Tests Tracing African Ancestry.


How To Trace Your African Ancestry

What Is My 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. The beauty of my visits to Africa is 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. I came back from Africa still yearning however for some more evidence and decided to look for a DNA test that could help shed some light as to the regions or people to whom I was related on the African Continent. 

So the next decision was which one to I choose? 

See my next article – How to decide on a DNA test?