Specifying the African origins of the African American genome

(Zakharia et al., 2009) (Fig.1)

Characterizing the admixed African ancestry of African Americans (Zakharia et al., 2009)


(Zakharia et al., 2009) (Table1)

Characterizing the admixed African ancestry of African Americans (Zakharia et al., 2009)


“We found that all the African Americans are admixed in the African component of their ancestry, with estimated contributions of 19% West (for example, Mandenka), 63% West Central (for example, Yoruba), and 14% South West Central or Eastern (for example, Bantu speakers), with little variation among individuals.” (Zakharia et al., 2009, p.8)

“These results are consistent with historic mating patterns among African Americans that are largely uncorrelated to African ancestral origins, and they cast doubt on the general utility of mtDNA or Y-chromosome markers alone to delineate the full African ancestry of African Americans.”  (Zakharia et al., 2009, p.1)


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Locating Afro-Diasporan haplogroups within Africa

Dissecting... (Tabel S6, country breakdown)a

Dissecting the Within-Africa Ancestry of Populations of African Descent in the Americas (Stefflova et al., 2011)


Limitations of our study

Our database and analyses have several limitations. First, there remains limited data from W/WC Africa, where the published literature does not cover Ivory and Gold Coasts. Thus, the analysis of genotype data is limited by the available published data.”  […] 

“Second, mtDNA is a single locus that can inform us only about group maternal ancestry and needs to be complemented with study of NRY and AIMs. While NRY analysis is complicated by limited resolution and coverage of the published data in Africa as well as Bantu speakers’ migrations.” (Stefflova et al., 2011, p.7)


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Locating African American haplogroups within Africa

Charting the ancestry of .. (Fig. 1b)

Charting the ancestry of .. (Table 2)

Charting the Ancestry of African Americans (Salas et al., 2005)


Charting the Ancestry of African Americans (Salas et al., 2005)

“Here, we make use of an African database of 4,860 mtDNAs, which include 948 mtDNA sequences from west-central Africa and a further 154 from the southwest, and compare these for the first time with a publicly available database of 1,148 African Americans from the United States that contains 1,053 mtDNAs of sub-Saharan ancestry. We show that >55% of the U.S. lineages have a West African ancestry, with <41% coming from west-central or southwestern Africa. These results are remarkably similar to the most up-todate analyses of the historical record.


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Ethnic Origins of South Carolina Runaway Slaves

South Carolina Runaway Slaves 1730-1790

Francisco Menendez, a Mandinga runaway slave from South Carolina, became leader of the free black militia at Fort Mose in the Spanish ruled Florida of the 1700’s.


Number of runaway slaves: 2,424
African origins specified: 508


“Angola” (mostly Bakongo) 149 – 29% of African specified
“Gambia” (incl. Mali/Senegal) 61 – 12% of African specified
“Ebo” (Igbo & related ethnic groups) 49 – 10% of African specified

Above summaries are based on the HIGHLY interesting collection of runaway slave advertisements published in American newspapers in the 1700’s:Runaway Slave Advertisements : a Documentary History from the 1730’s to 1790, Volume 3, South Carolina”. This very extensive work was put together by Lathan Windley in 1983 and has been used by many historians ever since.  Besides ethnic/regional origins you can discover many more fascinating details about these advertised runaway slaves if you read the texts closely. The advertisements can be consulted online (after registration) via this great website: The African American Experience.

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Ethnic identities of African-born slaves: valid or imposed?


Mandinga/Mandingo is undoubtedly one of the best known African ethnonyms in the Afro-Diaspora. Not only in the USA but also in the Hispanic Americas, Brazil and Cape Verde the Mandinga name is still alive in popular imagination but with very different associations it must be noted 😉 Nowadays in Brazil it is used to refer to a distinct capoeira style. In Cape Verde the socalled Mandinga parades are part of carnival celebrations. While in some Hispanic countries (Peru, Puerto Rico) there still exists a popular saying which goes:  “El que no tiene (de) Inga tiene Mandinga“, meaning Continue reading

From African to Creole


In the previous post I already discussed the following:

  • Creole” can mean many more things than just referring to Louisiana Creoles.
  • Cape Verdean Creoles/Crioulos are probably the historically oldest self-identified Creole population in the world.
  • In the colonial era the term “Creole” was also used to distinguish between African born slaves and locally born (within the European ruled colonies) slaves.
  • The dating of the socalled Creolization process/transition is fundamental for tracing back African ethnic roots.

I will continue this discussion but in this post I will apply it more generally for Afro-descendants in the Americas and in more detail for African Americans. Continue reading

Do Cape Verdeans and African Americans share African ethnic roots?

In the previous posts i have established that:

  1. most of the slave trade that passed through Cape Verde took place in the 1500’s/1600’s
  2. involved people from the Upper Guinea region
  3. with destinations in the Hispanic Americas
  4. only northern Brazil had significant Upper Guinean slave imports in the 1700’s/1800’s
  5. a separate Cape Verdean diaspora arrived in the Americas out of their free will, most of them living in the USA but many also residing in Argentina.

This brings me to my next question: to what degree do African Americans and Cape Verdeans show overlap in their African ethnic/regional origins? Continue reading