Oprah’s DNA Test

Speaking of DNA testing to trace your ancestry, Oprah Winfrey took the plunge and submitted her DNA for analysis. Based on the results, she claims to be a member of the Zulu tribe in South Africa. Unfortunately, historical evidence doesn’t back her up. (Sify, July 1, 2005)

According to historians, few records show that the tribe was involved in the North American slave trade. Africans who became slaves in North America, in particular the American South, were mostly from West Africa.

“I hate to tell Oprah this, but she is sorely mistaken,” Zulu leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was quoted as saying.

If I were Oprah, I’d be asking for my money back.

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    • Franklin Wade

      I totally agree. Most people watch CSI:ANYTHING and think that Western science has solved all the riddles of DNA and that the slightest bit of it allows any scientist with a modicum knowledge of biology to unlock all the mysteries it holds. Indeed, we know so very little about the double helixes within our cells that simultaneously divide and unite all humanity.

      Thus with such limited understanding, only a massive databse of all humans– past and present — could help researchers to give oprah such a concrete conclusion. My guess is that Oprah, like so many of us when it comes to families, only wanted to be told what she wanted to hear. It’s no secret that Oprah loves South Africa, and I think she would pay anything to "know" that she’s descended from one of their tribes.

      Just as many white Americans would pay anything to know that their descended from European Aristocracy.

      Can we blame her though? If I had the money, I’d pay anything to know I was directly descended from Clovis!

    • http://www.aboutweblogs.com/genetics/ Lei

      Franklin, You’re right on about Oprah and people’s desires to be special. I’m such a philistine; I had to look up who Clovis was!


      I know that Oprah’s ancestors came from Nigeria in West Africa and in fact they are of my tribe Ibo. Oprah looks like my aunt. Nose and gait and all.

    • http://www.aboutweblogs.com/genetics/ Lei

      That’s a very interesting observation, OSINACHI!

    • Walter Fox

      Becuase of the controversy about the results of Oprah’s DNA test perhaps she might want to get a "second opinion" from another lab. If the result is the same, a broader and more complex history of the slave trade should be considered. Slave trading was conducted much further down the west coast of Africa than just the " Guinea Coast".

    • http://www.aboutweblogs.com/genetics/ Lei

      Walter, Thanks for the comment. I absolutely agree that Oprah should probably consult another lab which may have a different set of data for comparison. And, if possible, she should combine the results of her DNA tests with good ol’ fashioned paper-based genealogy.

    • http://mclintond23yahoo.com Mulbah Clinton

      I think Oprah should see reason to believe that she is truly a West African by ancestry link done by DNA testing. I also want to believe that she is from Liberia Bong County where the Kpelle tribe lives.

      She should come home and see her people some day. She may not want to believe it but that is the fact. There are also some things in common with her and the kpelle people base on her show.

      Thanks and come home.

    • Saye

      Mulbah, I strongly agree with you. Moreover I was proud to learn that such a strong woman who have made many positive changes in lives of others whether poverty, or making dream come true around the world, ancestors descended from Liberia.

      L .I. B forever

    • http://drdeborahserani.blogspot.com/ Deb

      Maybe she needs to take another DNA test

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    • Emeka

      I have watched Oprah’s Zulu claims with much amusement. I do not blame her because she does not not know Africans very well.

      But all I can say is that she looks nothing like a Zulu she is definitely West African.

      But we all love what she is doing for Africa.Maybe she should also help Liberia.

      God Bless her

    • Rose Beharrie

      I believe they did do paper work with Oprah’s DNA test because they found her trace of DNA in other African countries. The reason giving is that people marry, people move, some are not going to stay at the same place, so they supplimented her DNA test with paper work and found that the slaves who arrived at a certain port in America where they felt her family originated, came from that particuliar tribe in Liberia. Trust me the term that black American’s use sister and brother to greet each other is as I see it an exact term. Look at it like this we could be wedding our own close family and do not even know it. Who knows why so many black Americans are suffering from sickle cell anemia. We may be having children with someone who is a close relative in our blood line.

    • http://nil joshua

      I believe Oprah knows the truth about where she came from, our hope is inside us not Oprah peeps, she grew out of poverty and horrible past and surely we will do the same….Oprah,watch the space!

    • jaali hotep

      Whatever Oprah’s roots are she should be proud, I just don’t like the arrogance of africans why is Oprah so far from looking like Zulu, Zulus should be happy they don’t have anything else going besides Shaka Zulu and the Zulu war in the 1800′s, and Africans need not to be so arrogant because they are responsible for our slavery, todays Africans are nothing but descendants of slave holders and they have the nerve to hold their nose up in the air and as far as Iam concerned they are right there with white slave holders so slow down arrogant Africans(Zulus) African americans are the strongest and bravest of our race(African)

    • Gonda Watson

      Can u help me get dna testing done in Libria that where child and mother live. The child mother is giving me a hard time and I will liked some assistant on seeing if that child is mines. I live in North Carolina.


    • Chea.Bricks

      It is very unlikely that Oprah’s ancestry is South Africa. Minus DNA, West Africa is place to suspect. With DNA, West African countries from Senegal-Sierra Leone-Ivory Coast-Ghana_Benin_Togo-Nigeria_Cameron belt should be strongly looked at. The farthest being Congo. During the slave trade, the trip to South Africa from America would have been the longest trip. S. Africa I do highly doubt and very unlikely though not impossible.
      There’s a book, “Mississippi in Africa” I recommend for Oprah to read.

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    • Pat

      Give me a break people. First of all, not all Black folks in America are descendents of slavery. Second of all, as many of you noted, most -most not all of the slaves came from West Africa. Third, I’m glad you can all read Oprah’s heart and mind and know what she wanted to “Know.” Lastly but not leastly, I agree with the comment that there are some arrogant Africans that want to deny Africans of the diaspora based on “looks” — when you skeptic and nay sayers become genetic experts let us know. And you experts out there know that so called historical evidence is flawed with some of it being simply theoretical and some of it being lies of the powerful.

    • Pat

      FYI Accoring to PBS site and other sources Oprah’s DNA test did NOT determine she had Zulu heritage! These postings go back to 2005 so hopefully folks received corrected information.

    • http://xxxxx xxx

      i totally disagree with you all it is very possible that some west african slaves had some south african ancestors you are all stupid people moved out of south africa international commerce from prehistoric times till now the people that say it is not possible are never moves out of their tv set that is all..south african president is big and lazy that is all i have to declare…i am french..

    • Linda

      Because individual conscience cannot be trusted in the human being, anyone who sends for DNA information should send it without their real name.
      They should send it without a hint of who they are and no clue of their race or ethnicity.
      If these scientists are so smart people seeking their DNA idenity should make them test the DNA without one clue of who the DNA is from.
      Now that would be interesting.
      I wonder what they would come up with then if they had no idea who the DNA was from.

    • Mark

      Pigeon hole me because of the way I look? I am as “white” as the driven snow. Pigeon hole me because of my name? It was created in Canada and sounds french but you won” find it in France.
      Pigeon hole me because of where I live? I live in the USA.
      Pigeon hole me because of my DNA? I am from Africa, Like everyone who is reading this post. Isn’t the real question ” Were my ancestors taken from Africa (most of them sold by other Africans to the Europeans) as slaves to work not only in the USA but in many other parts of the west? ”
      People tend to want to “herd” “belong” and associate with groups that they choose to belong. This is the basic basis behind many things, like religion, or politics. People in the USA who decide that the want to be “African American” are simply stating that they want to be part of the “group” of people who were “stolen” from Africa and pressed into slavery. This give them some sort of identity which in turn justifies their actions and opinions. Me? When the census comes around? I also identify as African American, after all my ancestors came from Africa, and I live in the USA right? Oops I just pigeon holed myself!

    • Carlo

      What you lot all fail to rember which is quiet scary DNA testing goes back way be4 SLAVERY!!! and slave trAde was along the whole of the WEST coast which goes down southwards and partially inwards e.g Congo. whos to say operah’s family didnt travel within africa . people have been migrating before planes & boats ..

      • http://www.DNAtestingAncestry.com dna testing ancestry

        Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It’s people like you that make my day.

    • Tima

      I am South african and Zulu. And personally when the news came almost EVERYONE accepted it. And what you people fail to realise is than ONLY 30% of all african americans have slave ancestors. As for her not looking Zulu trust me she does! CONFIRMED BY A ZULU. Please stop making assumptions about zulu’s when you haven’t even been to south africa

    • Neon

      plz tell me ur kidding about the 30% thing… really? so u mean to tell me that 70% of all blacks in america had ancestors that came here willfully?? you must be kidding. Even after blacks were free and some left to go back to Africa, im sure that there wasn’t only 30% that stayed and 70% that left then came back. who in their right mind would want to come back? and by blacks i mean African Americans. not ppl born in Africa then became an american citizen.

    • jema redd

      Trace DNA was found in other African countries because they do not believe that Oprah’s DNA test on the work of the paper. Due to people, people do not stay on the move to marry some of the same place, so they work on paper, his family thought of his DNA test supplimented and they arrived at the port where slaves were raised by some that the United States, Liberia, came to the particuliar tribes. I do not see the exact word to each other and welcome the black American’s use of the word sister, and brother of Trust. This type of marriage that may be close family and we never know. Who knows why many black Americans are suffering from sickle cell anemia. We are the children of our blood line can be a close relative of a person. DNA medical health test