A major DNA study revealed that, in line with the major slave route, that most Americans of African descent have roots in territories now located in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
The study sheds new light on the fate of millions of Africans who were traded as slaves to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The study found out that there was over-representation of Nigerian ancestry in the United States and Latin America when compared with the recorded number of enslaved people from that region.
The disparity is explained through the prism of the “intercolonial trade that occurred primarily between 1619 and 1807”.
It was theorised that enslaved Nigerians were transported from the British Caribbean to other areas, “presumably to maintain the slave economy as transatlantic slave-trading was increasingly prohibited”.
The study also revealed an underrepresentation from Senegal and The Gambia – one of the first regions from where slaves were deported.
This underrepresentation was postulated to be product of two factors: many were sent to work in rice plantations where malaria and other dangerous conditions were rampant; and in later years larger numbers of children were sent, many of whom did not survive the crossing.
Part of the findings agreed with historical documentation about where people were taken from in Africa and where they were enslaved in the Americas, “in some cases, there were disagreements.
More than 50,000 people took part in the study, which was able to identify more details of the “genetic impact” the trade has had on present-day populations in the Americas.
More than 12.5m Africans were traded between 1515 and the mid-19th Century.
Some two million of the enslaved men, women and children died en route to the Americas.
The DNA study was led by consumer genetics company 23andMe and included 30,000 people of African ancestry on both sides of the Atlantic.
Steven Micheletti, a population geneticist at 23andMe told AFP news agency that the aim was to compare the genetic results with the manifests of slave ships “to see how they agreed and how they disagree”.