10 American Celebrities Who Trace Their Ancestral Roots To Africa

A few African American big names have effectively discovered their African roots because of DNA databases offer by a few organizations which incorporate Ancestry DNA and African Ancestry.  One of these is “Who Do You Think You Are?” which is a British genealogy documentary series that has aired on the BBC since 2004. In each episode, a celebrity traces their family tree. It is made by the production company Wall to Wall. Twelve series have been broadcast, with the twelfth airing from August to October 2015.



1. Don Cheadle (Cameroon)

Popular actor, Don Cheadle is definitely one of the few actors who is a known name in Hollywood. The actor shares ancestry with the Bamileke, Masa and Tikar indigenes of Cameroon.



2. Levar Burton (Nigeria)

Popular actor, Levar Burton who was born in Germany is an American producer, director, actor, presenter and author who discovered he was a descent of African roots, Nigeria to be precise. He discovered that he is genetically linked with the Hausa people of Nigeria.



3. Chris Rock (Cameroon)


Christopher Julius “Chris” Rock III is an American comedian, actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. In 2008, Rock’s family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test showed that he is descended from the Udeme people (Ouldémé) of northern Cameroon.



4. Vanessa A. Williams (Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Senegal)


This American actress’ DNA analysis revealed that she is 23 percent from Ghana, 17 percent from the British Isles, 15 percent from Cameroon, 12 percent Finnish, 11 percent Southern European, 7 percent Togo, 6 percent Benin, 5 percent Senegal and 4 percent Portuguese.
5. Oprah Winfrey (Liberia, Cameroon, Zambia)

Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest females in entertainment and has been listed as one of the Richest black women in the world.   When she took a DNA test for the PBS show African American Lives in 2005, she discovered that she was a descendant of the Kpelle people of Liberia, Bamileke people in Cameroon and a Bantu-speaking tribe in Zambia.



6. Whoopi Goldberg (Guinea Bissau)

Popular American actress, Whoopi Goldberg, whose real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson (51) had her origins in Papel and Bayote two tribes living in the village of Ome, in Guinea-Bissau.



7. Common ( Cameroon )

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 08: Rapper Common attends the VH1 Save The Music Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on November 8, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for VH1)

Another American who also traced his roots to Africa is Common. The popular recording artist and actor traced his roots to the Bamileke and Ewondo ethnic group of Cameroon in Africa. The Ewondo people are settled in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.



8. Sheryl Lee Ralph(Cameroon)

American actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph, has praised an initiative that helped African-Americans reconnect with their ancestry by visiting the countries, such as Cameroon, where their forefathers originally came from.  Sheryl Lee Ralph and her husband Senator Vincent Hughes were among a group of 90 people visiting Cameroon as part of an ancestry reconnection programme where African-Americans whose origins have been traced to that country via DNA tests. They are invited back to Cameroon in a tour hosted by ARK Jammers, Inc. 

“…that I can sit here in this New Year and say I am a Cameroonian-American is a wonderful thing,” Sheryl Lee Ralph, said on Cameroon national television (CRTV).



9. Anthony Anderson(Cameroon)

Anthony Anderson is an American actor and writer, and the star of ABC’s Black-ish Where he is was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. The popular actor and host after a DNA test revealed that his ancestors hail from Bubu people of Bioko, Island, and from the Hausa and Fulani people of Cameroon.


10. Erykah Badu (Cameroon)


Erykah Abi Wright, better known by her stage name Erykah Badu, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, and actress who also traced her roots to Africa, Cameroon to be precise. The artist discovered that she her lineage originated from the Bamileke people in the grassland region of Western Cameroon.



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