The human story begins in Africa, but for many African Americans searching for their ancestral roots, finding where their family story begins on that great continent is nearly impossible, because the slave trade severed those connections. 23andMe is launching an initiative that we hope will change that.
Our African Ancestry Project is recruiting individuals with four grandparents from Sub-Saharan Africa with the hope that their contribution to research will help others gain better insight into both their ancestry and health. For a limited time 23andMe is offering free kits to people with four grandparents from one of several different sub-Saharan African countries.
These countries – Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo , Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone – all were major waypoints in the slave trade and have special significance for African Americans wanting to gain more insight into their ancestry.
Currently 23andMe is able to give broad ancestral information to people with African roots, and we will offer an update to our Ancestry Composition feature in the near future that gives much more information for those with African ancestry.
But this project promises to give even finer level detail on the geographic origins of that ancestry. Africans, and people of African descent, are the most genetically diverse people in the world. Both the fossil record and genetic studies have given us great insight into human history and evolution and how the first populations emerged in Eastern Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. And yet for all we know about human history in Africa, people of African ancestry are underrepresented in genetic research that could give them, and well as scientists in general, better insight into both their health and ancestry.
With the African Ancestry Project 23andMe hopes to improve diversity in research while giving individuals who participate, access to their own genetic data empowering them both with their own health and ancestry information.