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
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:
- 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.
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.
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
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 autosomal 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.
3 Ancestry DNA Kits That Didnt Make The Cut
Before we get the best kit for African Ancestry, here are three that we tried and why they didnt make the cut.
- 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.
- 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.”
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.
- 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.
African Ancestry DNA Test
- Cost: Around $300
- Type of Analysis: Either Y-DNA or mtDNA: African Ancestry 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 think African Ancestry DNA kits would be our immediate first choice.
First off, it costs three times as much as other kits. You would think that means the kit is three times as good, right?
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’s video out here.
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.
- 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.
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, scroll back up and 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!