Black Americans, do you ever wonder which country in Africa your ancestors came from?

I'm an African but supposing i was born a black American I would be wondering which country I originally come from and also be thinking about my blood line that are still in Africa. I'd just be really curious.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • There are a lot of difficulties involved with such an undertaking.
    First of all, African slaves in the Americas were usually stripped of their identities and all their previous records (if they had any) were deleted. Many of them also never had any form of official identity such as a birth certificate or a passport because they had previously lived as tribesmen in small jungle villages without any western government structures.
    Furthermore, none (or very, very few) of these slaves were capable of reading and writing. This means that they didn't have the chance to write about their lives and their heritage, leaving little to no documentation for contemporary historians.
    And perhaps most importantly, Africa didn't consist of modern nation states yet at that point (we're talking about the 17th and 18th centuries here). These nation states only started to develop and appear through the systematic occupation by European powers in the 19th century (imperialism). Before that, Europeans merely touched the coasts and were too scared to travel inland. Africa was an extremely wild and foreign continent to them and exploring it was often dangerous and cumbersome. Oftentimes, European slave traders worked together with (black) local Africans who evaded their own enslavement by cooperating with the Europeans. They would kidnap people from tribes far inland and bring them to the coast, where they sold them to the Europeans. These kidnapping trips could last days or weeks, so it would be almost possible nowadays to trace back where you ancestors came from exactly. It wasn't like today where there are a lot of big cities in Africa. Of course there were settlements but the vast majority of Africa was natural wilderness.

    However, while there are tons of uncertainties, historians believe that most slaves who were brought to South and North America came from a region of what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo (and also the Congo), Gabon, Cameroon and Angola.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • I'm not black and I'm not American, I'm mixed and European (part South American) but my black ancestors came from slave ships to the Caribbeans and South America about 1700s some by French ships and some by Spanish ships. Haven't asked my black grandfather yet who researched our ancestry where from Africa they come from. The thing is that it's hard to say either way. It's not just one single person you trace back to, it's many. And it's not just "countries" these people come from it is different tribes and clans.

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What Guys Said 2

  • Many people don't know because their identities were taken and disgusted.

    I know "African American" is used to replace Black/negro etc but why aren't white Americans called European Americans? Or Scottish American?
    That's a bit strange.

    In England everyone that was born and when those who migrated there are considered British. I know the circumstances are different but still

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  • It must suck to be black.

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What Girls Said 2

  • There's black people all around the world just because you're black doesn't mean your family was from Africa. I swear that's the most annoying thing I hear from black Americans. Who the hell traces their lineage that far back? You're an American, enjoy your American culture and stop trying to latch onto a culture that isn't yours.

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    • I completely agree with you. Though, to be fair, it should be said that white Americans do this stuff too. Even on this site, there are so many Americans who write stuff like "I'm part Italian and part Irish and part Russian". I think that's just as stupid. They're not Italian or Irish or Russian, they're Americans. There's nothing wrong with that. Just because your great great grandpa came to the US from Italy in 1850 doesn't mean you know any Italian, you have an Italian mentality or you know anything about Italian culture.

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    • Well, many of the African slaves came during the 18th century and most Europeans did so too. So there's actually not too much difference. It's true that there was a second large wave of European immigrants in the 1870s-1890s but even those people are now 4-5 generations away from us.
      In the case of Latino people like yourself, the situation is different because they have come to the US much more recently. For example if somebody is Mexican, it's likely that one of his parents or his grand parents at the very least were/are Mexican. These means that there is still some connection to that country. Your grandpa might talk Spanish with you, your grandma might cook Mexican dishes for you and tell you Mexican legends and stories. If you're great grat grandfather came from Italy (or Angola for that matter), you have absolutely no such connection. I am myself 1/16th Polish and it doesn't mean anything to me. I don't know Polish, I don't have Polish mentality traits, there's no relation.

    • @BlueCoyote I like you're explanation. And yeah for me my heritage is fairly close. I'm only the second generation on either sides of my family to be from the U. S. From there literally everyone on my dad's side is from Jamaica and everyone from my mom's side is from Puerto Rico. My Jamaican grandmother's father was Scottish but I don't claim I'm Scottish because I'm not. When it comes to my racial background the black portion and Hispanic portion is mixed up so I'd have to explain the percentages but all in all I'm just those two things ethnically.

  • I've managed to trace some of mine just out of curiosity. But the line went from some where in west africa to the dominican republic, then to the US. So I learned that I'm somewhat hispanic on both sides :). I was born in the US so I am American but it is nice and interesting to learn about my ancestors and their culture

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