- Products: Maternal DNA test, Paternal DNA test, Apparel, Gifts, & Jewelry
- Cost: $299 for single tests, $729 for a family package
- Reports: Present-day African country of origin or ethnic tribe for maternal or paternal lineage.
- Raw data access: No.
- Privacy: They claim to never sell or share your DNA.
- Alternatives: SelfDecode: The best option for health-focused DNA analysis with personalized reports, symptom analysis, and health recommendations.
- Provides detailed ancestry information for both maternal and paternal lineages
- Offers ancestry information about the present-day country and the ethnic tribe of origin in Africa
- They offer a large online community where users can receive support and discuss results
- Costly compared to 23andMe and AncestryDNA for an ancestry data service
- Results are not available online for the user to download
- Limited reporting is offered for ancestral lineages outside of Africa
African Ancestry was founded in 2003 by Dr. Rick Kittles and Gina Paige in Washington, D.C. Dr. Kittles was one of the earliest geneticists to trace the ancestry of Africans through DNA testing. Dr. Paige holds a degree in Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Over the years, their company has provided ancestry information to over 750,000 people of African descent.
The company maintains a database of over 30,000 indigenous African DNA samples. These samples are used as a reference dataset to determine the present-day country of origin and the ethnic African tribal ancestry of the customer.
There are two African Ancestry DNA tests available, one for each side of the family: the maternal DNA test and the paternal DNA test, both priced at $299. An African Ancestry test determines the present-day country of origin within Africa and the tribal roots. The test can trace back 500 – 2000 years.
The company maintains an African Lineages Database consisting of samples from over 30 countries and 400 ethnic groups. The database is used as a reference to match individuals with their African country of origin/ethnic tribe.
The African Ancestry DNA test does not analyze autosomal DNA. The only genetic material used for analysis is mtDNA and Y chromosomal DNA. Y-DNA looks at the Y-chromosome, which is inherited father to son, and mtDNA looks at the mitochondria, which is inherited from mother to child. Results include a letter that lists percentages of DNA from each area of Africa. The results also include countries of origin and ethnic tribes.
The report also returns a list of tested genetic variants. However, this does not include the complete mtDNA or Y chromosome sequence. Instead, they decode only small regions containing genetic variants specific to certain African countries of origin/ethnic tribe.
The results package also includes a Certificate of Ancestry, Understanding Your Roots brochure, African Ancestry Guide to African History and Cultures e-book, and access to the African Ancestry Online Community.
All ancestry reports are emailed to the individual in the results package. No results are available online or elsewhere.
Certificate of Ancestry
The MatriClan test analyzes mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is inherited exclusively through the mother’s side. It can be used by both men and women. mtDNA remains the same through the maternal lineage (grandmother, great-grandmother, etc). Therefore, these results can be shared with family members without the need of taking additional tests.
According to their website, for 92% of customers the MatriClan ancestry test identifies African heritage. The results also include HVS1, HVS2, or HVS3 designations and mitochondrial haplogroups. HVS are hypervariable segments in mtDNA that are used to determine haplogroup. Mitochondrial haplogroups are defined by differences in mtDNA that represent branch points in the mitochondria that show maternal inheritance differences. Certain HVR designations correspond to haplogroups specific to countries of Africa and ethnic tribes.
If the results are Non-African, the company can only determine a broad area of origin. In these cases, European, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Indigenous American origin can be determined.
The PatriClan test kit can only be used by men. The DNA test analyzes the Y chromosome, which men inherit from their fathers. Certain Y chromosome markers are specific to African countries and ethnic tribes, which allows for ancestral determination.
Like the MatriClan test kit, results from the PatriClan test are the same for any member within the paternal lineage. Women can also determine their paternal lineage. This can occur by having a male relative from their father’s side take the African Ancestry PatriClan test.
According to their website, the PatriClan ancestry test identifies African heritage for 65% of customers. Like the MatriClan test kit, non-African ancestries are also included in the reporting. Y chromosome haplogroups are not provided.
Pie chart showing my Admixture Percentages.
The MatriClan Test Kit and PatriClan are each $299. The company also provides bundled genetic testing packages. One of these bundles is the Family Package that contains both the MatriClan and PatriClan tests for $729, which also includes six additional personalized certificates and four African Ancestry t-shirts.
African Ancestry only provides ancestry information, and does not make any health recommendations.
Customer DNA samples are labeled with a barcode that keeps individual identity confidential. African Ancestry does not retain genetic material from consumers. After processing, the DNA samples are destroyed by the lab.
Inconclusive results may occur where neither the country of origin nor ethnic tribe can be determined. Inconclusive results that denote an African ancestry will be kept for up to a year for additional testing. However, this is optional, and the samples can be destroyed upon request.
African Ancestry will not share customer information unless required by law for a judicial proceeding.
Genealogy vs Health
African Ancestry attends to a niche market focused solely on genetic genealogy. If you want to find out about your past, this company may be a good choice for you.
While genealogy is of great interest to many people, there is a lot more that can be gleaned from your genetics other than where you came from. Other services can offer more actionable insights regarding how DNA can impact one’s health and help people improve their quality of life.
Genealogy has its importance when it comes to learning more about the past, but genetic health information may prove to be of more interest to other who with to improve their overall well-being.
|Offers health insights||
|No||No (discontinued in 2021)||
|Personalized blog posts||
DNA testing, wellness reports, health recommendations, lab test analyzer
|DNA testing, Maternal and Paternal DNA tests||DNA testing, health and ancestry reporting||
DNA testing, health and ancestry reports
|Raw data access||
$97 – $389
|$299 – $729||$99 – $119||$99 – $199|
African Ancestry has been widely publicized through several celebrities of African ancestry (Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Spike Lee, Maya Angelou, and more). Additionally, there are many online African Ancestry reviews.
13 customer reviews on DNAtestingchoice.com rated the company an average of 2.7 of 5 stars.
The customers on this site mostly left negative reviews citing the poor results and testing methodology. One customer left a detailed review highlighting their experience with African Ancestry from two different purchases in 2003 and 2015, saying that the quality of the test did improve, but still said the low resolution of the test was still not worth the money.
192 customer reviews on trustpilot.com rated the company an average of 3.8 out of 5 stars.
The positive reviews on Trustpilot reflect customers’ satisfaction with the results and service overall. The negative reviews mention waiting times for months, and dissatisfaction with the results.
9 customer reviews on top100dnatests.com rated the company an average of 3 out of 5 stars.
Positive reviews on this site praise the customer service and heritage information, while the complaints mention the high price and wait times for results.
In general, customer reviews on the usefulness of the heritage information tend to be swayed depending on how much information that could be found in their DNA.
SelfDecode: The best option for health-focused DNA analysis with personalized reports and recommendations to improve your quality of life.
If you’re looking for an overview of where in the world your DNA comes from, these tests can shed some light on the region of Africa your ancestors came from. You may be interested to see if any proportion of your ethnicity is from somewhere unexpected. However, there is not much more detail provided about non-African lineage, nor are there any health recommendations given based on your DNA.
If you are interested in unlocking much more than just ancestry information from your DNA, an alternative such as SelfDecode provides you a more comprehensive option. With science-backed and holistic health reports in addition to their personalized health blog, they offer excellent tools to help take control of your health.