WASHINGTON, D.C. (BLACK PR WIRE) – It’s easy to forget that, just 10 years ago, African Americans had no way to accurately or reliably determine where they came from in Africa.
In 2003, African Ancestry Inc. arrived on the scene and the situation changed. Not only did the small, black-owned enterprise establish the first and only DNA-based ancestry tracing company for people of African descent but it has also dramatically enhanced the way African Americans see themselves and the rich influences that Africa has in their lives today.
“Our 10-year anniversary is more than a one-time reason to have a party or a fleeting marketing opportunity. This milestone marks an unprecedented, collective transformation for thousands and thousands of black people that augments their identities in today’s America and across the world,” said Gina Paige, co-founder and president of AfricanAncestry.com.
Created by Rick Kittles, one of the country’s few black geneticists, and entrepreneur Paige,
AfricanAncestry.com employs the largest collection of indigenous African DNA — collected by Kittles — in a proprietary DNA matching analysis to assess present-day African countries of origins.
“I never imagined that my passion for African history and the movements of its people throughout the world would one day manifest itself in a much-needed product for African Americans,” said Kittles, whose years of research on genetic variation in Africans led to the founding of AfricanAncestry.com, published works in more than 100 publications and break-through advancements in the field of human genetics and genetic anthropology.
Since its start, African Ancestry has been on the forefront of collecting and analyzing first-time, interesting data from its test-takers. And while it’s clear that there’s a close race between people wanting to trace their mother’s side (53 percent) versus their father’s side (47 percent), African-American women overwhelming outnumber men — two to one — when it comes to tracing their roots.
Here are more interesting facts from African Ancestry’s MatriClan and PatriClan testers from 2003-13:
• America’s Top five metropolitan cities with the most number of test-takers are Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
• Maryland ranks the highest as the state with the most number of testers. South Dakota ranks the lowest as the only state in the union with none.
• Of the Western African and Central African countries traceable through AfricanAncestry.com, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia, respectively, are the Top 5 countries of origin for testing African Americans.
• Of the traceable countries in its database, surprisingly, no testers’ ancestries have ever been traced to Gambia, Ivory Coast or Republic of the Congo.
• Fifteen percent of black testers trace to Europe. Only 2 percent are Native American, debunking a widely accepted myth among African Americans. One percent trace to the Middle East and less than 1 percent to Asia.
• Of the more than 125 African-American celebrities and notables who took African Ancestry’s tests, a majority share ancestries with the people of present-day Cameroon, with Sierra Leone a close second.
AfricanAncestry.com says this 10th anniversary year it has planned a variety of events scheduled to celebrate the milestone and lay the groundwork for the next decade.
“Amongst the varied activities is a central goal to help African Americans understand the connection between who they are today with the influences of Africa,” Paige said.
“When asked where they’re from, I want as many people as possible to proudly say their African homeland alongside Chicago or New York or Memphis or any other American identity,” she said.
African Ancestry.com says its work has impacted the lives of more than 100,000 African Americans, including icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Isaiah Washington, Common, Condoleezza Rice, Cory Booker, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Jealous and Andrew Young.
AfricanAncestry.com is the official ancestry partner for the Centennial Celebration for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. The company has also partnered with Kunta Kinteh Island for Coming Home in Shackles, a documentary chronicling the journey of the most celebrated African captives transported to the Americas as cargo.
The company said it will also kick off a series of discussions designed to inspire continued interest in discovering “the true you” and the African in Americans.
Also, in conjunction with longtime partner ARK Jammers and the African Diplomatic Corps of Brazil, AfricanAncestry.com will announce the roots of notable Brazilians during the 50th anniversary of Africa Day – a global observance that commemorates the formation of the African Union.