BY Stephen Nartey, 4:30pm September 27, 2022,

Where do most enslaved people transported to North America hail from?

Photo Credit: FiossifrejusduBénin

It recently emerged that the route used in transporting enslaved Africans to North America was through the main ports in Bight of Benin and West-Central Africans. 

Analysis of 2,000 samples from people in 57 settlements in sub-Saharan Africa by the Institut Pasteur and CNRS established the routes used by slave ships in transporting African Americans. The report published in the science journal put to rest the controversy surrounding the roots of African Americans who were transported to North America during the transatlantic slave trade. 

The researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 5,000 African Americans to arrive at this conclusion. The findings also showed that African Americans’ lineage originated from the Bantu of Sub-Saharan Africa. Their genes mutated over the years following inter-marriages with other tribes and settling in new areas. 

But, the mass exodus of the Bantu was intensified by the emergence of farming in the region and the search for fertile lands. They migrated from Cameroon and Nigeria to other settlements some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. This was the genesis of the Bantu and their settlements across parts of Africa. 

Scientists argue that the Bantu migrated to the East and South parts of Africa when they left their earlier location, while another school of thought posits that, the Bantu who were migrating from their homes only split after they got to present-day Gabon. The former is known as the early split while the latter is referred to as the late split. 

The genomic analysis of the samples by the researchers show Bantu settlers from the East and Southern part of Africa are more connected to samples of populations taken from Gabon. This lends credence to the latter arguments that the Bantu began their mass exodus to the east and south of Africa after reaching Gabon

Further analysis by the researchers showed that the Bantu intermarried with the settlers in West Central Africa, East Africa, and South Africa. This could only explain the identities of the populations in these regions. 

The scientists claimed that these intermarriages enabled the Bantu to survive the weather conditions of the new areas they settled in. It favored the Bantu to mix with other tribes to enable them to flourish, strengthen their immune system and protect them from diseases which were not familiar to the Sub-Saharan region. 

The researchers said the Bantu soon adopted the Eastern African culture of drinking cow milk to survive. Lead researcher on the team Lluis Quintana-Murci said they are happy they have been able to establish the routes used by the Bantu-speaking tribe of the Sahara and how over the years they have survived harsh environmental conditions. 

The researcher explained that these assumptions existed, but, this is the first time scientists have been able to confirm them. The team said the slave trade made a lot of changes to the genes of the Bantu people who were disturbed by the transatlantic slave trade

Lluis said the majority of Africa Americans residing in North America have some connection with the Bantu people. The researcher indicated that half of the samples taken show that the African Americans were connected to populations from the Bight of Benin, Gabon and Angola

The genome analysis also showed that a small population of African Americans hailed from the basin of the Senegal and Gambia rivers while others were also transported from ports in Côte d’Ivoire.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 28, 2022


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