Kudariba Ninobagwe Achogi, Awuru Kabula, Welaga Jennifer Kadi, Regina Nyaaba, Asam Veronica Abaviriwe, Gabriel Kugoriamo. Photo commissioned by Regina Nyaaba



Map of Paga, Ghana. Map credit:


The project starts in Paga, Ghana, a border town in the Upper East region of Ghana. The four elderly women and the young man in this picture are residents of the neighborhood of Nania in Paga. Within the neighborhood of Nania is a the site of the former Pikworo Slave Camp. When slave raiders took people from Nania and the surrounding countries, raiders would hold their captives in chains at this camp until the raiders were ready to march selected captives southward to the slave market.

The community narrative of Nania is that slave raiders came and took the strong, leaving the remaining family to plummet into poverty. The young man on the right, Gabriel, is a resident of Nania and a guide of the Pikworo Slave Camp for visitors who go there to learn about the history. He was taught by the elders in Nania. The young lady in the middle without the headwrap, Regina, is from the town of Navrongo, about 30 minutes south of Paga. I met all of them during one of my visits to Ghana where, after explaining that through DNA testing, we may be able to find some of the descendants of those who were taken away, they agreed to take an AncestryDNA test.

On October 4, 2016 we received the results back and they do, indeed, have descendants of taken family members who have already tested with AncestryDNA. We are in the process of contacting some of those descendants. We are also identifying other Ghanaian family members of these ladies who could also take an AncestryDNA test and thereby help confirm relatedness. It’s an on-going process and the families welcome your engagement.

As of June 22, 2017, we are in the pre-planning stage of a community-based participatory research project. The project is examines the evolving sense of community among northern Ghana residents and their diaspora relatives (as determined by autosomal DNA testing). Research collaborators are LaKisha David (UIUC PhD student), Gabriel Kugoriamo (from Paga), Christy Lleras (UIUC Associate Professor), Regina Nyaaba (from Navrongo), and several community members from Paga and surrounding areas.

For more information, please email LaKisha David at LTDAVID2@ILLINOIS.EDU.