DNA testing has become all the rage in countries like America, where people are more interested than ever in heritage. These tests use just your saliva to give you a breakdown on where your ancestry comes from. For some people, it is simply interesting information to add to what they already know about themselves. For others, including the descendants of slaves, it gives them a more concrete idea of where they are from than they ever had before.
However, for those of us born and raised in a country like Nigeria, there are some extra considerations to take into account before buying into the idea of ancestry testing. Finding the right testing kit isn’t all that easy, as you can see in this MyHeritage DNA test review.
Why should this be the case? Well, unlike in the US, DNA testing hasn’t yet taken off in the same way in African countries. And that leads to potential issues.
How does the database look?
One of the factors that improves the accuracy and usefulness of a DNA testing company’s results is the size and makeup of their database. Ancestry testing works by comparing results from everyone on the database and making deductions based on them. Therefore, if your DNA resembles the DNA of most Native Americans, for example, you are likely a certain percentage Native American.
The problem when it comes to Nigeria, and African countries in general, is that some of the biggest databases are relatively thin when it comes to African customers. Yes, they have many African American customers, but since most African Americans can’t provide accurate information regarding where their ancestors came from, their DNA doesn’t help improve accuracy all that much.
When looking for the best ancestry DNA testing company for you, make sure that their database has a significant African presence. Otherwise, you will get vague results that don’t tell you much more than what you already know.
Furthermore, DNA testing for Africans tends to be more accurate when the testing is autosomal. While other types of DNA tests focus on one of the sex chromosomes, autosomal testing uses the autosomal chromosomes which are not gender specific. Autosomal testing provides more accurate and comprehensive results for Africans in particular.
Some ancestry DNA companies store data and will share it with potential relatives if you give them permission to do so. This can add an extra layer of excitement and usefulness to your DNA testing. For Africans, since DNA testing is not yet as accurate as it is for people from other parts of the world, this aspect makes it all the more worthwhile.
Finding relatives is not just a matter of interest though. When you can identify relatives, you can learn more about genetic vulnerabilities specific to your family. You can find out if certain diseases like cancer and heart disease run in your family.
This has proven lifesaving to some, as early diagnosis or prevention are far more effective than any cure can be.
For a Nigerian, ancestry DNA testing can be illuminating. Just make sure you choose a company that can actually provide worthwhile results for Africans.