Haitians commonly say: Nou sot Lafrik Ginen meaning we are descendants of West Africa. The truth in these words is now reported in a landmark article on the origin of humans published in the journal Science. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania led the largest study to evaluate the genetic composition of Africans and found that Africans have the largest amount of variation in the composition of their genes. Gene variation in a population accumulates over time and is called biodiversity. Africans have the largest biodiversity because they are the world’s oldest population.
The study reports that modern humans first appeared in the Namibia region of Africa 200,000 years ago and then dispersed. The study also found that in general the different categories of languages spoken in Africa matches how different subgroups dispersed throughout the continent. The study provides details about the origins of the Foula, the Ibo, the Kongo people and so forth. This information about these various nanchons or ethnic groups is crucial for understanding the genetic make-up of people of African ancestry in the Americas. The study evaluated a sample of African Americans and found that their genes come mostly from West Africa, called Ginen in the 17th century. Eight percent of their genes come from elsewhere in Africa and 13% come from Europe. No Native American genes were found in their sample. Although the study did not specifically look at Haitians, based on the fact that Haiti and Brazil were the most important destinations for the commerce of people as slaves, we expect that a genetic evaluation of the Haitian population would confirm the Haitian cultural statement that Haiti is a child of West Africa, Haiti se pitit Ginen. As more and more diseases are being linked to the genes that people carry, information on the genetic composition of various populations is of increasing public health value. Ayibobo to this team of scientists for their publication in the April 30, 2009 edition of Science entitled The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans. www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1172257