Debbie (Republic of Congo) Took AncestryDNA Test to Inform Kin about Ethnicity

Germainy Debbie Mokeleba of the Republic of Congo decided to take an AncestryDNA test in April to help identify possible kin in the diaspora. Debbie is a graduating undergraduate I met when I gave a presentation in her class in March, 2016. She was a student in the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s EPSY 203 “African/African-Americans: A Global Dialogue” with instructors Dinah Mite and Mbhekiseni Madela. As of April 28, 2016, AncestryDNA begun processing Debbie’s kit. I asked Debbie to write a few thoughts about what testing meant to her. These were her words:

Over the past few years I have seen commercials about celebrities looking to trace their identities; more specifically, I have seen African-American celebrities looking to trace their identities back to specific countries in the continent of Africa.

When talking about ethnicity, I have so much pride telling people where I come from; and without a doubt, I was excited to be a part of Ancestry DNA in order to help those who are looking to trace their identity. Having a strong sense of my ethnic identity has certainly shaped the way I view hot topic issues, especially through the lens of race. Moreover, because of that, I have a strong sense of confidence with who I am, and I never allow for others’ perception of my people to affect me simply because only I know the reality of my culture. I hope through this process that those who are looking to find their ethnic heritage will always have this pride and confidence of where they come from.

I am from the Republic of the Congo, located right next to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Though I am 25% from DRC as well, I have always identified as Congolese from the Republic since I spent the first 11 years of life living there. I have been in the U.S. for almost eleven years. I would be very surprised to find relatives in the African Diaspora in the U.S. this early on in the research; however, it would be interesting to see how that would impact me if I were to discover family living here.

We hope to get Debbie’s AncestryDNA results by June 2. I wonder how many of her kin, if she has kin in the diaspora, will we find next month! Follow this post to hear more as she shares experiences about exploring identity and reconnecting with her kin in the diaspora!


  • I always thought I was 100 percent European till it came up I had a 100% congolese great whatever grandparent. They traced the generation to 1700-1800s definetly the time of the slave trade. It was a big shocker, I did 23 and me and that’s not really available in the Congo so good to take ancestry dna. Other cousins of mine have the dna too so I know what side of the family it came down.

  • Our people that was put on slave ships and brought to America did not come from Congo.

    • Actually, a significant number of Africans enslaved in the U.S. did come from the Congo and surrounding areas. There are several sources of credible research to find out more, but here is a quote from a quick search: “Of those Africans who arrived in the United States [388,000 directly from Africa], nearly half came from two regions: Senegambia, the area comprising the Senegal and Gambia Rivers and the land between them, or today’s Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Mali; and west-central Africa, including what is now Angola, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon.”

  • I am looking forward to getting her DNA results since I’ve recently found some African cousins from DRC. I hope she downloads her Ancestry raw data onto Gedmatch.Com.

    • Hi, Marsha. Congratulations on finding a cousin from the DRC. (I found a cousin from Cameroon.) I’ll have to ask Debbie if she would be willing to upload her DNA profile to GEDmatch. I would love to hear more about your reunions with your DRC cousins!