Study Finds that the Yorubas Are Genetically 99.9% Similar to the Igbos

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Study Finds that Yorubas Are Genetically 99.9% Igbo

Four of the major coastal ethnic groups of Western Africa: the Yoruba, Igbo, Akan and the Gaa-Adangbe are dissimilar at a glance and evidently geographic neighbours, but very closely related, when examined at the genetic level.

Several studies have been employed over the years, with findings showing genetic similarity between differing regional ethnic groups. One in particular, conducted by Adebowale Adeyemo, Guanjie Chen, Yuanxiu Chen, the National Human Genome Centre and Howard University, and Charles Rotimi of the University of Ibadan, provided results indicating the genetic similarities between the four major West African ethnic groups.

Their findings further showed surprising genetic variance within groups, but almost none across groups, similar to the closeness of human genetics across races, showing more range within than without.

According to this landmark study, there was a 99.9 percent within-population variance, the between-population variance was less than 0.1 percent. This means that Yorubas, Igbos, Gaa and Akan are 99.9 percent similar, while within each of the groups there are variations/differences between individuals as high as 99 percent i.e. One Igbo may be 99 percent genetically different from another Igbo person, or one Yoruba person to another.

It is important to remember that these groups were not initially split by national borders; prior to the European division of the continent, these ethnic peoples traded, migrated and wedded as the times permitted, allowing apparent regional and national mixtures that remain evident in modern day genetic analyses of some Yoruba and Igbo individuals….

Also worthy of note is the shared Volta-Niger root languages, Yoruba and Igbo languages belong to the same family (YEAI branch), showing the common start of the diverse languages spoken by these ethnicities.

Consequently, barring the inclusion of culture, ethnic affiliation and nationality, it could be said that the the Yorubas, the Igbos, the Akans and the Gaa-Adangbes are but ONE people spread over a wide area with different ways of life. Thus, discrediting any claim of a unique Yoruba “race” or a genetically insured Igbo ethnicity often employed by politicians and traditional rulers in rhetorics and propaganda messages.

A body does not fight itself. These kinds of research serve as a balm to the much divided heart of the ethnically-concerned West African, and to the African at large: one root, many branches; united by blood if not spirit.

Those That Were Crushed – A visual commentary on Nigeria’s political landscape by artist, Muyiwa Akinwolere


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