African Ancestry DNA Testing Kit Review

In 2003, Geneticist Rick Kittles and his partner Dr. Gina Paige launched African Ancestry Inc. The focus was on DNA testing that specializes in maternal and paternal lineages. Since its launch, the company has helped over 500,000 people discover their roots.

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    This company claims to have  a database of indigenous African genetic sequences. These DNA testing kits claim to trace ancestry to a specific African country and ethnic group with origins dating back more than 500 years. 

    The geography of testing is not limited so, even if the results come back from another continent, that information will be reported. We chose from the two testing kits available for purchase, one for a detailed report on our mother’s ancestry and the other for our father.

    If you have African ancestry and are interested in learning about your specific African ethnic roots, you might be attracted to this company’s offerings. But you need to continue reading our review of African Ancestry.

    African Ancestry Subscription & Packages Start From

    PackagePricing
    MatriClan Test Kit
    $299
    PatriClan Test Kit
    $299
    Family Celebration Package
    $679

    Pros and Cons

    Pros

    • Large database of African Lineages
    • Excellent protection of privacy
    • Designed specifically for those of African heritage

    Cons

    • No relative matching or family tree features
    • The results are less detailed than other popular DNA testing kits
    • The price is quite high among the competition

    Collecting Your DNA Sample

    African Ancestry provides two tests for purchase; the MatriClan Test Kit and the PatriClan Test kit. The Matriclan test is available for both men and women. This test analyzes the mitochondrial DNA that we all inherit from our mothers.

    On the other hand, the PatriClan test kit is only for men. This is because the test measures the Y chromosome that only men inherit. When a woman wants to determine their paternal ancestry, she has to test the Y-chromosome of her brother, father, father’s brother, or paternal grandfather.

    When you select and order, you will receive an email confirmation, which includes a link to a video. The video is embedded and features Gina Paige, the co-founder of the president of African Ancestry. The video is helpful because Paige describes the next stages of the process. She also explains how to collect your DNA and what to expect from the report.

    The collection process is the same for both of these tests, and it is a fast process. We like that the kits include cheek swabs, as they are much more comfortable and less messy than collecting a saliva sample.

    The DNA kit includes the following:

    • A Specimen Information Form to include with your sample.
    • Three cheek swabs
    • A confidential prepaid envelope for your swabs
    • A document including important information about the test and instructions

    We were happy to see that this company uses swab samples as opposed to saliva tubes. Swabs are easier to use, making the collection process faster. The only thing to keep in mind is to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking anything for 30 minutes before collecting your sample.

    Before you take the test, fill out the Information Form, and locate the confidential prepaid envelopes. When you are ready, swab the inside of your cheek with all three swaps and stick them into the collection envelope.
     

    african ancestry imageHow Fast do Results Come Back?

    Once your samples reach the lab, African Ancestry will send you a confirmation email. They will notify you through email again when the results are ready. Results come back to you within 8-10 weeks, which is standard among other DNA testing services. The report will come with two components- a ‘myDNAmix Certificate’ and the ‘myDNAmix Results Manual.’

    What do The Results Include?

    We like the two items that come with the results, and the ‘myDNAmix Certificate’ is attractive and makes the whole process feel official. The certificate visualizes your DNA admixture through a pie chart. Underneath the chart is a signature of Rick Kittles, the Scientific Director.

    If you are 100% one ethnicity, the pie chart will display only one color. If you are like us with more of a mix of backgrounds, the pie chart will demonstrate the different regions of origin.

    The report begins by covering the basics of DNA and providing explanations for technical concepts and terms related to DNA testing. We found that these educational resources are essential to our understanding of how specific DNA tests work.

    The educational element of this report is what we consider as a highlight of this service. After providing an overview of the process, the report discusses race and how it is not a scientific concept but rather a social construct; hence, why it cannot be tested for through DNA analysis.

    Following this discussion, there is information on ‘BioGeographic Ancestry,’ which is the concept used to assess the ethnic breakdown included in the myDNAmix test. We found the information fascinating and impressive in terms of the amount of research that was presented.

    The History of Human Migration timeline provides an overview of migration patterns. The timeline is accompanied by a map that provides easy visualization and understanding.

    This information is useful as educational resources, but we wish that they were tailored to our specific results instead of general examples. It is helpful that the report does explain the statistics behind the estimation of your ethnicity.

    How Does African Ancestry Protect Your Privacy?

    The company terms and conditions promise that your info, including your name, genetic information, or other personal information, will not be sold to any third parties.

    Those who are defined as ‘employees’ are bound to a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement. When your DNA sample is handled in the lab, it is only identifiable by a barcode.

    The African Ancestry website includes encryption software, which ensures that information is protected when users are entering sensitive information, such as a credit card number or a social security number. The company also assures customers that their data is protected offline. Employees are briefed every six months on privacy as a company priority.

    Matching With Relatives

    One element that is missing from African Ancestry is a family tree or relative matching feature. While the database has over 33,000 African lineages across forty specific countries, matching with other users is not provided. There is no way to find other people’s profiles that may also have a shared ancestor.

    In the Frequently Asked Questions page on the website, the limitations of the test are clearly laid out. If you want to find the ancestry of other branches of your family tree (other than the maternal or paternal lineage), you must convince other members of your family to take the test.

    When you receive your results, you find exclusive membership to the African Ancestry Online community, a Facebook Group. To join the group, you have to register with your name, email, and the African Ancestry Kit ID number provided on your kit instructions.

    Once you are a member of this community, you may find some other users with the same ancestry. 

    African Ancestry Prices and Details

    Depending on your needs from African Ancestry, this test can be a significant investment. There are four options available to choose from on their website. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what they offer.

    MatriClan Test Kit for Men and Women

    The MatriClan test kit from African Ancestry allows you to trace your maternal lineage and works for both men and women. It’s priced at $299, and if you buy two, you can get a discount of $25 for each test. This option is for those who wish to understand the origins of their mtDNA and includes the following:

    • Country of origin and ethnic group (tribe)
    • View 500-2000 years of your DNA history
    • Includes HVS1, HVS2 and HVS3 designations and haplogroup
    • 92% of results are African

    PatriClan Test Kit for Men Only

    The other side of the coin to the Matriclan Test Kit, this option can be completed by men only. If you would like to trace your paternal lineage and are female, you can ask one of your male siblings or father to take the test. It’s priced the same as the MatriClan test and has the same discount. Here’s what you get with this option:

    • Country of origin and ethnic group (tribe)
    • View 500-2000 years of your DNA history
    • 65% of results are African

    Family Celebration Package

    The Family Celebration package gives you the chance to share the experience of discovering your history with the whole family. It’s priced at $679, and you get a few extras included alongside one of each package above. It’s an option for those who want a more detailed picture of their genetic makeup.

    • Six extra personalized certificates worth $60
    • Four African Ancestry t-shirts
    • One PatriClan Test Kit and one MatriClan Test Kit

    African Ancestry Keepsake Box

    This option can come with either a PatriClan Test Kit or a MatriClan Test Kit, and it’s designed for those who wish to keep their results in a beautiful box for generations. You can order the box and test for $359, or if you’ve done the test already, you can buy it as a standalone option for $69. Below we’ll tell you what’s in the African Ancestry Keepsake Box:

    • Three-sided box with hinged lid
    • Can be displayed on a shelf, coffee table, or similar
    • Includes soft color hard-backed journal

    There are frequently promotional prices that offer extra savings, and we recommend keeping an eye out.

    Summary

    This company focuses on African ancestry and is marketed to people with such ancestry. But independent experts say the amount of DNA checked is insufficient for delivering the level of specificity that the marketing promises. Furthermore, the tests are much higher priced than the far more precise mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA tests available at Family Tree DNA. Finally, the lack of genetic matching to other users means the African Ancestry test has zero value to genealogical purposes.