-Gina Paige On How African Ancestry transforms the way people view themselves and the way they view Africa!
By Ajong Mbapndah L
African Ancestry is the world leader in tracing maternal and paternal lineages of African descent. With the industry’s largest and most comprehensive database of over 25,000 indigenous African samples, African Ancestry determines specific countries, and more often than not, specific ethnic groups of origin with the highest level of detail, accuracy and confidence. Founded in 2003 by Dr. Rick Kittles and Gina Paige, the Washington D.C. based company has today helped over an estimated 150,000 people re-connect with the roots of their family tree. Gina Paige, President & Co-founder, African Ancestry, Inc says Knowing where you’re from is a vital component of knowing who you are.
PAV: May we know how the idea of African Ancestry was conceived and how it works?
Gina Paige: AfricanAncestry.com was born out of a desire by Dr. Rick Kittles, our Scientific Director, to know where he was from. His work as a geneticist led him to explore how genetics can be used to answer the question of ‘where am I from?’ asked by so many people of African descent. Once the community learned that the technology existed, their demand for the service resulted in the establishment of AfricanAncestry.com.
African Ancestry uses DNA to determine the ancestry of maternal lineages and paternal lineages. If the ancestry is African, we place it in a present-day country in Africa and we identify the ethnic group(s).
PAV: So your results are able to place African Ancestry in a present day country and region, what technology does your company have and is there a margin of error in your findings?
Gina Paige: African Ancestry has the African Lineage Database, the largest database of indigenous African lineages in the industry. With over 33,000 lineages, we are able to pinpoint ancestry to within a 95% confidence level. The vast size of the African Lineage Database allows us to provide a likelihood measure as well.
PAV: How big is your clientele and how excited or motivated are African Americans to find out their Ancestry?
Gina Paige: More than 150,000 people know their roots through the service we provide.
PAV: What typically becomes of folks when they become connected to their Ancestral backgrounds?
Gina Paige: The journey only begins with tracing their roots using DNA. Every person we test becomes a part of our African Ancestry Family Community, where they have instant access to country-of-origin enrichment materials, other people that share their ancestries and tools and resources for deepening their experience. Additionally, many people travel to Africa, join extended networks/groups and support causes affiliated with their roots.
PAV: Where do you situate the importance of African Americans knowing their Ancestral origins and any chance that stronger bonds could be forged through the kind of services you offer?
Gina Paige: Knowing where you’re from is a vital component of knowing who you are. The ancestral paper trail can only go but so far for African Americans due to the breakdown of information during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and records are unreliable at best. So we believe it’s of the highest priority for people of African descent in the U.S. and across the world whose ancestries have been displaced.
PAV: Back to your company, any ties that it has with the continent business, professional or political wise?
AfricanAncestry.com does not have any business, professional, or political ties to the continent. We do partner with some non-profits and embassies here in US to foster an exchange between African Americans and Africa.
PAV: To those who might be interested in using your services, what does it take cost wise and how long does it take to get results?
The current promotional price is $299 to trace a single lineage. There is an additional discount if a person traces more than one lineage at a time. Many people see this as a family investment and members of families go in together to purchase a kit and they all share the same results.
For more on African Ancestry visit www.africanancestry.com