We Tried 4 African Ancestry DNA Testing Kits And The Winner Is Not Who You Think

Not all African ancestry DNA kits give you the same results! Some give you very little information, and others are an outright waste of money!

We dropped $1,000 on 4 different kits to find out which one was the most accurate.

Before you start reading, note that we are judging these tests by their ability to use DNA to trace African ancestry. When we use the term ‘African ancestry’, we are not just talking about the company of the same name.

3 Reasons You Should Take An African Ancestry DNA Test

Not all kits are able to break down African ancestry dna the same.

I understand that you may not trust what companies are doing with your data. With what we know about Henrietta Lacks and Medical Apartheid, we cant afford to let our DNA fall into the wrong hands.

I personally reached out to all 4 of the companies that we reviewed to find out what they do with your DNA once your test is done.

I included their responses below, and we took their policies into consideration when we did our reviews.

With that being said, here are three reasons you should take an African ancestry DNA test.

Reason 1: Family Lies Might Come To Light

Be prepared for some reality shattering truths to come out after you get your test results. Some people have found out that their father actually wasn’t. Others have lived their whole lives claiming a heritage that wasn’t theirs.

Whether you want to accept the truth or not (and you want this test because you want the truth, right?) DNA doesn’t lie.

“You are NOT the father” – Maury Povich

You may have some misconceptions about who you are or where you came from. Here are some of the most common ones that I have heard:

  • My Great Grandmother was Cherokee
  • I am an Indigenous American
  • I am a quarter Irish – thats why I have reddish hair
  • My family always told me that we are 100% Haitian.

We all know that people lie for different reasons. DNA tests will give you the truth once and for all.

Reason 2: DNA Tests Will Help You Tell The Difference Between Your Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality

Remember the article I wrote on the differences between your race, ethnic group, and your nationality?

If not, here is a quick recap:

Your race is biological. It is a combination of your genotypes – your genetic makeup – and phenotypes – your eye color, melanin, lung capacity, and other physical traits. When we are talking about race (and gender for that matter), we are not talking about social constructs. We are talking about the physical aspects of who you are.

Your ethnicity is based on the group that you share your language, culture, and – to some extent – your ancestry.

Nationality is the nation that you are a citizen of. Nothing more, nothing less. So if you are an American citizen, that makes you 100% American.

What I want you to remember is that you can be 100% American (nationality), 100% Igbo (ethnicity), and 78% African (race).

A good DNA test will definitely be able to tell you your race, but wont be able to tell you your nationality.

Why? Because nations change over time. Before 1960, the nation of Mali was known as French West Africa. Before that, it was Songhai. And before that it was Mali again. And before that it was Ghana.

Changing political situations can make it difficult to keep track of your lineage. Sticking with DNA is much easier, and far more reliable.

Reason 3: African ancestry DNA Tests Will Tell You The Truth About Who You Are

One of the biggest reasons members reach out to me is that they are looking for the truth about who they are. I hate to break it to you, but I can’t give you that truth!

Yes, I can run down 300,000 years of Black history.

I can help you overstand the elements of your life.

I can even walk you through a spiritual divination.

But at the end of the day, I can’t decipher your bloodlines!

So it is up to you to take responsibility (and invest) in gaining the ultimate knowledge of who you are and how you came to be.

Once you have that information, you can zoom in on one part of Black history – the part that matters the most to your bloodlines.

How African Ancestry DNA Testing Works

Taking the test is pretty straightforward: You either spit in a tube or swab your cheeks. The good news is that there is no blood involved!

There are three kinds of DNA tests out there. They are:

  • Y-DNA
  • mtDNA Tests, and
  • Autosomal DNA Tests

When you understand the difference between these three tests, you can make a better decision about which one is right for you.

Y-DNA

Courtesy: Ancestry.com

A Y chromosome DNA test (Y-DNA test) is a genealogical DNA test which is used to explore a man’s patrilineal or direct father’s-line ancestry. The Y chromosome, like the patrilineal surname, passes down virtually unchanged from father to son. – International Society of Genetic Genealogy

Translation: When it comes to African ancestry DNA testing, Y-DNA tests only trace your father’s lineage. Furthermore, since this test uses the Y-chromosome, only males can reliably take the test.

That’s because women do not have Y-chromosomes. (Which means you need us, ladies.)

The point is, not only do Y-DNA tests give you only half the picture, they only work for half to population.

mtDNA Tests

Courtesy: Ancestry.com

A mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA test) traces a person’s matrilineal or mother-line ancestry using the DNA in his or her mitochondria. mtDNA is passed down by the mother unchanged, to all her children, both male and female. A mitochondrial DNA test, can therefore be taken by both men and women. International Society of Genetic Genealogy

Translation: mtDNA Tests trace your lineage from your Mother’s side of the family.

mtDNA Tests were the standard for a long time, since they could be taken by both men and women. But you still end up with the same problem as Y-DNA tests – you only get half the picture (your Mother’s side).

Autosomal DNA Tests

Courtesy Ancestry.com

Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome).International Society of Genetic Genealogy

Translation: Autosomal DNA Tests don’t look at just the X or Y chromosomes. They look at all of your genetic material to get a comprehensive picture of your genetic makeup.

Since these tests look at more of your genetic material, they are superior to other tests that only look at your Mother’s or Father’s lineage.

What To Look For In An African Ancestry DNA Kit

Now that you know why you get your test done, don’t just run out and grab the first box with the words African ancestry on the cover!

There are several factors that make some tests better than others.

Look, these tests are pretty expensive. You want to be sure you are getting your hard-earned dollars worth without spending all day doing research (that’s my job).

So here is what you are looking for:

1. You want kits that provide information on your autosomal DNA. These tests produce the most comprehensive snapshot of your ethnicity and all your living relatives.

These are the criteria that we used to find out which African ancestry DNA Kit was the best.

2. You want to use kits that give you information about both your racial makeup and the ethnic groups you likely come from.

It can be almost impossible for a DNA test to tell you your exact ethnicity, but it can offer clues. And in cases where the same ethnic group has been in the same region for an extended period of time (like the Igbo), it can be easier to get that information.

3. You might want to consider kits with a family tree option.

Some companies out there let members save their DNA profile and add it to a database of all the other users. That information can then be shared by you with everyone else in that database.

Why would they do that?

So that you can find relatives you might not know about!

African ancestry DNA kits that have a family tree feature will automatically fill in parts of your family tree with other users who share your DNA.

If you are concerned about privacy, most kits let you opt out of public data sharing.

Having a family tree option helps you stay organized as you put together your story, so it’s worth considering.

Here are the 4 companies that we reviewed, what they do with your data, and whether they are worth the cost.

Ancestry DNA Kits

Cost: Around $99

Type of Analysis: Autosomal

Family Tree Option: Yes (with subscription)

Does Ancestry Sell Or Use Your DNA?

Oh, they do much more than that.

When we got the reply back from Ancestry.com it scared the sh*t out of us. They basically sent us a copy and paste of their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. According to these legal contracts, you still own your DNA, but so does Ancestry.com. According to its privacy policies,

  • Technically, Ancestry.com will own your DNA even after you’re dead.
  • By submitting DNA to AncestryDNA, you agree to “grant AncestryDNA and the Ancestry Group Companies a perpetual (that means forever), royalty-free (that means you can’t get paid), world-wide, transferable license to use your DNA, and any DNA you submit for any person from whom you obtained legal authorization as described in this Agreement, and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.”
  • According to the Terms of Service, “it is possible that information about you or a genetic relative could be revealed, such as that you or a relative are carriers of a particular disease. That information could be used by insurers to deny you insurance coverage, by law enforcement agencies to identify you or your relatives, and in some places, the data could be used by employers to deny employment.”

Yo, read that last bullet point again.

You can spit in their tubes if you want to go out like Henrietta Lacks. I don’t suggest it.

AncestryDNA: Genetic Ethnicity Test
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AncestryDNA: Genetic Ethnicity Test
  • Discover your DNA story with our easy-to-use kit. Simply send in your saliva sample to our lab in the prepaid package, and your...
  • AncestryDNA is the #1 selling consumer DNA test.* From your origins in over 500 regions, to the most connections to living...
  • Our new DNA experience gives you a more precise ethnicity estimate with greater geographic detail and in-depth historical...

MyHeritage

Cost: Around $80

Type of Analysis: Autosomal

MyHeritage gives you a breakdown of your ethnic percentages and connect you with relatives descended from any of your ancestral lines within approximately the last 6 generations. Both men and women can take the MyHeritage DNA test and the results are not limited to just the direct maternal or paternal lines.

Family Tree Option: Yes

Does MyHeritage Sell Or Use Your DNA?

No. Here is what they had to say:

“When you test on MyHeritage, you are the sole owner of your DNA data. You can delete it from MyHeritage at any time. Personal information provided to MyHeritage is never sold, licensed or shared with any third parties and MyHeritage will never sell or license DNA data to any third parties without your explicit consent.”

While they do store your data for an extended period of time, you have the ability to delete any information whenever you want to.

One of the things I liked about MyHeritage was they cover 42 ethnic regions and they have the largest database of global users to be matched with. That increases the odds of being able to find out exactly where you come from.

MyHeritage DNA Test Kit - Ancestry & Ethnicity Genetic Testing
1,022 Reviews
MyHeritage DNA Test Kit - Ancestry & Ethnicity Genetic Testing
  • Discover your ancestry and find relatives you never knew existed on both your maternal and paternal sides.
  • Get a detailed ethnicity breakdown with the most comprehensive list of ethnicities in the industry: 42 regions, including 7 East...
  • Simple DNA test kit with a cheek swab - takes only 2 minutes to complete.

23andMe

How well does 23andMe measure African Ancestry DNA?

Cost: Around $100

Type of Analysis: Autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA

23andMe uses every type of testing to determine where you come from. However, they only cover about 31 different ethnic groups.

Family Tree Option: Yes

Does 23andMe Sell Or Use Your DNA?

Just like Ancestry.com, 23andMe will sell the hell out of your DNA.

In fact, the company has a $300 million deal with drug giant GlaxoSmithKline. That company will use your DNA for drug testing and will collect data on you for clinical trials.

And if they discover a new billion dollar cure using your DNA (like they did with Henrietta Lacks) you are not entitled to a single penny.

And according to CNBC, this company can turn your information over to law enforcement, or whoever asks as long as the reason is good enough, apparently.

23andMe did not reply to our request for information about how they use customer data. Can’t trust it.

23andMe DNA Test: Ancestry + Traits Personal Genetic Service with 1,500+ Geographic Regions, DNA Relative Finder (Opt-in) & Automatic Family Tree
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23andMe DNA Test: Ancestry + Traits Personal Genetic Service with 1,500+ Geographic Regions, DNA Relative Finder (Opt-in) & Automatic Family Tree
  • Easy-to-use at-home kit, simply register and provide a saliva sample, no membership required. Personalized ancestry reports based...
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African Ancestry DNA Test

 African ancestry DNA Kit

Cost: Around $300

Type of Analysis: Either Y-DNA or mtDNA

23andMe uses every type of testing to determine where you come from. However, they only cover about 31 different ethnic groups.

Family Tree Option: No

Does African Ancestry Sell Or Use Your DNA?

No. Here is what they had to say:

“The Company will not disclose or sell a Customer’s name, genetic information, or other personally identifiable information (“Customer Confidential Information”) to any third party, other than to its employees, consultants or other agents who must have access to such Customer Confidential Information for such party to perform certain duties in connection with such Customer’s order (collectively, “Employees”).”

So that’s a positive. Now for the negatives…

You would thing African Ancestry DNA kits would be our immediate first choice.

Nope.

First off, it costs three times as much as other kits. You would think that means the kit is three times as good, right?

Nope.

You have to buy two kits to get both your Mother’s and Father’s line. And to make matters worse, you get some pretty generic information. To give you an idea of how generic, check this Brother out:

And when you read online reviews, people are not happy with African Ancestry DNA kits.

That’s a real review from a real customer.

To make matters worse, the African ancestry DNA database much smaller than other companies, meaning you get less reliable and less detailed results.

Look, I love the fact that this is a Black owned company, but I expect our companies to be just as good as the alternatives out there if they expect to stay competitive.

The kits are only available on the company’s website located here.

And The Best African Ancestry DNA Kit Is…

So it turns out that the best African ancestry DNA test is not African Ancestry. Nobody wants to pay three times as much to get half as much information that might not even be reliable.

And both Ancestry.com and 23andMe use your DNA for law enforcement, experimentation, and exploitation. Ancestry.com even keeps and owns your DNA long after you die – just like they did still do with Henrietta Lacks.

That leaves us with one clear winner: MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage DNA Test Kit - Ancestry & Ethnicity Genetic Testing
1,022 Reviews
MyHeritage DNA Test Kit - Ancestry & Ethnicity Genetic Testing
  • Discover your ancestry and find relatives you never knew existed on both your maternal and paternal sides.
  • Get a detailed ethnicity breakdown with the most comprehensive list of ethnicities in the industry: 42 regions, including 7 East...
  • Simple DNA test kit with a cheek swab - takes only 2 minutes to complete.

They have the lowest price, the most comprehensive DNA autosomal DNA testing, and the most ethnic groups in their database. They also have some of the highest reviews of all DNA testing kits out there.

If you are ready to find out who you really are, where you came from, and fill in your family tree, go with MyHeritage.

Are you planning on taking your DNA test? Or have you already done one? Leave a comment below to let us know if this article helped and share your results!

Written by Asad Malik

Asad is the Executive Officer of The Pan-African Alliance, and the Founder of United Black America.

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Jeannine Rutledge
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Jeannine Rutledge

I took the Ancestry.com test. Specially, I wanted see if my results would connect me to family I already knew I had. It did. However what I found as I sought to better understanding their testing was that if I were looking for any Native American DNA, I wouldn’t find it. None of the regions they tested samples from included regions where most Native American lived in America. Therefore, I most likely would never have Native American DNA, they don’t have those samples. I wonder why.

Denise Blaize
Guest
Denise Blaize

I wish I had read this review before I signed away my DNA to 23 and me. Anyhow, I had a horrible “customer service” experience with African ancestry when I was inquiring about their services and why all their shown results only reviled west African countries. The man cussed me out telling me I needed to educate myself on the slave trade! Oh I went in on him and advised him I’m VERY aware and that I’m also VERY aware that Africa is made up of over 52 countries, and not every single black person now living in North America,… Read more »

Denise Lowe
Member
Denise Lowe

Your article was on Instagram in February so I ordered MyHeritage kit then. Not sure why, but I just could not do it at that time. After joining here a couple of weeks ago, I finally did it and mailed it back a couple of days ago. I was and I still am very excited to see my results. All of my mother’s siblings seem to think my great grandmother was mixed with Native American Indians because our family is from Mexia, TX, but my mother said she was mulatto. My mother (the oldest) said my great grandmother’s mother was… Read more »

Johnray Winstead
Member
Johnray Winstead

I understand how the brotha can be upset with the results he received I would be too. But! That does not surprise me and the reason being is because (now I can not recall exactly who I believe either Dr. Frances Cress Welsing “Peace Be Upon Her” or Dr. Umar Johnson stated) due to the Unrestrained Rape of African Women in America for Hundreds maybe thousands of years by the Caucasian Male population. It could be in my option very accurate unfortunately that through the male side of the ancestry line the results from it is going to pop up… Read more »

Christine Holmes
Guest
Christine Holmes

This article really helped me to narrow down my choices. I know it won’t be selling my DNA…even after I’m dead. That’s some “US” horror bullsh*t in the making

Shakur
Guest
Shakur

Yes planning to & your review helped me choose

Joy316
Member
Joy316

A question; my undergrad is in Anthropology / Zoology. I recall lectures about Native American tribes that were “lost” within the Black populations. There were policies that classified Native Americans as “Colored” also. Today, however, the discussions usually claim that there was very little “mixing” between Black slaves and free with Native Americans?? Even though the “civilized“ tribes who walked across America during the “Trail of Tears” were 40% Black. Any thoughts on why the DNA tests fail to show our “Native American” heritage ??

Joy316
Member
Joy316

BTW there are other “genetic” tests that aren’t used to trace your family tree! I have high cholesterol. My Doctor recommended a new test that helps determine which treatment is best. He did not mention anything about genetic testing so I agreed. I never intended to do such a test because, as you mention in the article, I don’t know what they are going to do with the information. I protect my privacy as much as possible. When I returned for my results, I was shocked to find that they tested for something more than the best cholesterol treatment. There… Read more »

M. Vera
Guest
M. Vera

I used My Heritage and the only issue I had was not knowing which DNA was matrilineal or patrilineal.

Shanika M.
Guest
Shanika M.

OMG!!! MyHeritage has a NEW updated Privacy policy can someone PLEASE find out the new update. I hope they didn’t sell their souls Just like Ancestry.com, and 23andMe did.

Celine Ohara
Guest
Celine Ohara

MyHeritage’s CEO has vowed to never sell any information to a third party.