Random Acts of West African Ancestry - GangStarr Girl : GangStarr Girl

Random Acts of West African Ancestry

[ 7 ] February 25, 2014 |
BamDanceAfrica 2008

Me in the middle. BAM DanceAfrica 2008.

I’m a African, word to Dead Prez. Sorry, I couldn’t resist…

We all know that most Black people from the Caribbean and the United States are the descendants of West African slaves. A lot of us don’t know what countries we’re from but that has starting changing in recent years. I began hearing about people getting DNA analyses explaining where their ancestors came from and always knew it was something I wanted to do.

I didn’t get really serious until I began following an OkayAfrica series where they traced the roots of various celebrities from Q-Tip to Michael K. Williams, and more. I mentioned it to my hubby and he surprised me with DNA tests from Ancestry.com. It’s a simple process. They send you a kit, you send back a saliva sample and then you wait for about six weeks. My results were an estimate but still fascinating, because the analysis is done keeping ethnic migration and blending into account. The break down of my convoluted results is that I am primarily of the Ivory Coast/Ghana Ashanti people, but there were also traces of Benin/Togo, South Central Hunter-Gatherers, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Congo and even some European (Great Britain, Ireland and the general Western Europe area) in my blood. By percentage my blood is 90% African.

Part of why my DNA seems all over the place is because the people in some parts of West Africa (seemingly moreso the parts outside of Ivory Coast and Ghana in my case) are admixed, and we all know what happened during the New World, Middle Passage Saga, but I digress. I’m elated to have more of an idea where my ancestors are from because people have asked me my entire life, if I was either Nigerian, Ghanaian or Senegalese (those were the top three). I usually get Nigerian the most so I’m surprised that more of my blood was traced to Ghana (for the record, my father has Jamaican roots).


Performing Sorsonet from Guinea.

There are a few companies out there that provide this service, some more thorough than others. The company that OkayAfrica uses seems to traces roots by parent, whereas the company I used gives you a general overview (unless you pay for a personal researcher), like I said. My mom decided to do a test as well so I can’t wait to see her results and put things in better perspective. I’d also love to do it again one day with a different company but at least I got the basics out of the way, and more things about me make sense. Like… I love AfroBeat and African music in general. You don’t have to be African to enjoy African tunes because good music is good music but I swear it speaks to my soul. The sounds of the djembe especially bring me joy and peace akin to that of meditation. I like Nollywood movies, but that could just be because I am highly amused by cheesy b-movies (just search for “Blaxploitation Friday” on this site).

I also dance like this on occasion (as in, a lot):

These are probably my cousins:

I’m extremely athletic, naturally (that’s that warrior/hunter-gatherer blood lol). If I applied myself I’d be looking like storm out here! However, instead, I under eat and binge on sugar and salt so, womp womp. But look at the right gun in the following pic. This is on a workout hiatus, too:

Look at the gun, and that's during a workout break. Yes, I'm bragging.

Look at the gun show, and that’s during a workout break. Yes, I’m bragging.

I was made for the sun.

If I could walk on my head, I would. Headstands are boss.

If I could walk on my head, I would. Headstands are boss.

I chose to get married at the Akwaaba Mansion.

And then there’s the international hoodrat stuff that I enjoy like, “Uncle Obama.”

You get the point.

So, yeah…

In the words of Dead Prez, “I’m a African.”

Feeling some “Ghana Emotion” by way of Omar.

Praying for “2,000 Blacks” to be free because, Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti said so.

All I need is a trip to the Western part of the Motherland to set this ancestry thing off right! I might just break down into tears when I step off the plane.

Where are your people from?

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Category: Reflections

About the Author ()

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a recovering journalist who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun-toting B-movie heroine.

Comments (7)

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  1. AfroBanger says:

    Wow! I’m in shock about this post, because I plan on ordering my ancestry test this Friday! I’ve been wanting to do it since late last year. I’m leaning towards using National Geographic’s ancestry test service.

    Can’t wait to see what the results for mine will be! I was told growing up that I look Caribbean and/or Nigerian, ask I’m wondering if there’s some truth to those assumptions.

    That’s so wonderful that you now know your roots, and can contribute parts of your ancestry to some of your unique personal and physical characteristics. What does your husband think of your results? Is he interested in having an ancestry test done for himself?

    • GangStarrGirl says:

      You have let me know what your results are! Hubby got one done. He got mostly Ivory Coast/Ghana and Nigeria so we’re just excited that we’re not cousins lol. Our writer brains really went there because people often say we look a like. *Wipes brow*

    • AfroBanger says:

      Lol! I will definitely let you know my results. I’m excited!

  2. WorldTraveler says:

    Ivory Coast/Ghana33%
    Africa North3%
    Trace Regions
    Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers1%
    Benin/Togo< 1%
    Africa Southeastern Bantu< 1%
    Senegal< 1%

    These results shocked me because most of my people are from the Louisiana area. I've been told most of my life that I have a percentage of Native American blood and/or Creole. I have so many friends who are from Africa (born there or parents born there). It just all makes sense! 2 of my best friends are Ghanian. I am so elated! I wish more Black folk would embrace their roots instead of wishing for a European of Native American mix!

  3. Daryl Thomas says:

    I also used Ancestry DNA with the following results..
    Africa 84% broke down to….
    Ivory Coast/Ghana 34%
    Cameroon/Congo 20%
    Africa Southeastern Bantu 16%
    Benin/Togo 10%
    There was other results but the bulk was in Africa.

    I also uploaded my Ancestry results to MyHeritage and got the following results…
    Africa 90.4%…..broken down to…
    West Africa 61.7% (Nigerian 34.7%, West African 15.3%, and Sierra Leonean 11.7%)
    East Africa 12.6% (Kenyan 12.6%)
    North Africa 11.% (Sephardi Jewish 11.6%)
    Central Africa 4.5% (Central African 4.5%)

    My relatives are all from Georgia, at least that was what I was told. But found out my Mom had mention Cameroon to my oldest sister. Where they speak French as one of the languages and explain my Moms French middle name. My older sister before she passed, had a DNA test done also. I haven’t received her results yet. I want to compare hers, to mine.

    You can get test done by Ancestry DNA, MyHeritage, and 23andme.

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