Genealogy Sites - African Ancestry



African Ancestry, the African American DNA testing service, was founded in 2003 by Dr. Rick Kittles (now its Scientific Director) and Dr. Gina Paige (now its President).   The company is based in Washington DC.

They claim to be the world leaders in tracing maternal and paternal lineages of African descent.  Several prominent African Americans have used African Ancestry – including Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Spike Lee and Maya Angelou.

DNA Testing

MatriClan Test Kit

African Ancestry traces the maternal and paternal lineages of those of African descent.  With the industry’s largest and most comprehensive database of over 30,000 indigenous African DNA samples, it has helped more than half a million people re-connect with the roots of their family tree.

After evaluating your DNA sample, African Ancestry geneticists will determine whether or not you have African DNA. If so, they will provide details on countries and tribes of origin. If your results are not African, they will determine whether your ancestry is European, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Native American.

There are two types of tests offered – the MatriClan test and the PatriClan test.

The MatriClan test, which provides a mitochondrial DNA tracing of your mother (and her mother etc.), is the most taken DNA kit as anyone can take it. The PatriClan test traces the paternal DNA and can only be taken by those who have a Y-chromosome (i.e. born as male).  These tests have gotten a 92% and a 65% chance repectively of getting an African test result. 

The PatriClan Test therefore has a 35% chance of returning a non-African result. This probably occurs as a result of white men – say slave owners or traders –  having fathered sons with enslaved African women.

Their MatriClan and PatriClan test kit each lists at $299.

How Does African Ancestry Compare?

African Ancestry costs more than other DNA-testing services.  But for African Americans it can offer more.  Its ancestor tracing, separately for maternal and paternal sides, goes back much more further in time and connects very specifically to regions and tribes in Africa.  That is why it has received its celebrity endorsements.

Unlike many other DNA-testing sites, African Ancestry has a strict policy of not maintaining a database of customer information and does not sell or share customers’ personal, genetic information, or financial information. All genetic material is destroyed at the lab. The company’s strict privacy policy and commitment to preserving customer information makes it a trustworthy choice for those who want to learn about their ancestry.

Alternative Views

A sample view of the African Ancestry testing experience is given in this video.

Some customers have been concerned with the long turnaround time to receive their data. Another complaint was that they would prefer to receive more information in the mail versus using the online account.

Here are a few other customer comments.

“I highly recommend this. I’ve taken DNA tests with several other companies and none were able to tell me the specific African lineage of either my father or my mother. I wish I would have started my journey with African Ancestry, as it would have saved me and my family so much time, money and disappointment.

I was provided with the specific tribe and also guided through exactly how the science works and provided with lots of guides, ebooks, and other video content about the African countries and ethnic groups of my ancestors.”

“Got my results back yesterday from the patriarchal test and it said that there was a European male at some point on my father’s side and my DNA matches the people living in Portugal! After doing some research there were Portuguese men who married African women, but I don’t know.”

“Similar to many others with an 85% West African DNA make-up I thought i was paying for more detailed information about my African Ancestry. Surprise, surprise – I too am apparently 100% European.”

Customer Rating: 73% (average of Trustpilot and Amazon ratings).  African Ancestry ranks 3rd of the 6 DNA-testing sites reviewed here.



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Written by Colin Shelley

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