Igbo DNA, Israelite DNA

I had my DNA analysed in 2017. I used the services of the company called MyHeritage. When the reading arrived, they had what I knew they would have: clear evidence that Igbos once lived in the Land of Israel. It also confirmed another thought I had cultivated: that the reading of DNA results is even more critically important than the raw results. This is because my result was clearly not well explained by my testing company, because it lacked information. The raw data shows that I have 5.9% Eastern African DNA, 1.2% Middle eastern DNA, and 92.9% Nigerian DNA.

This result is not clear, albeit not because of a deliberate action of the company, but because the company’s officials did not use sufficient and adequate information to explain their findings. I will get back to this later.  When I talked with the representative of MyHeritage, my testing company, he suspected that my Middle Eastern DNA may have something to do with Arab penetration of what became West Africa.

I maintained silence about the Igbo, and the Israelite connection of the Igbos.

Towards the end of our conversation he let out that he had heard that an ethnic group in the area (of what became West Africa: the Ibo, is Jewish.)

I merely grunted.

Another important thing that he mentioned was that he felt that more of the Nigerian quantity would be Middle Eastern too. Why did he think about this? He knew that my raw result gave only the sketchiest hint of my genetic background and migrations: because of where I came from: sub-Saharan Africa. But more I cannot say he knew.

Well, if the same methods used to report the results of many Ashkenazi and Sefardic Jews are used to report mine, my Middle Eastern would read Igbo-Jewish 92.0% if not 94.1% What my result says, but which was left unsaid is the following: Many thousands Israelites, my ancestors, left Israel, and moved southwards, to what became West Africa thousands of years ago.

In the period they traveled there were no West Africa, North Africa, and Middle East as we know them today. Just tracts of territory, which in many areas were likely not inhabited. And even very likely, in places they were inhabited travelers necessarily did not have to pass through ‘custom’ and ‘immigration’ checks, that would have kept records of who was who, and where he or she came from.

So how do we know who traveled from the Near East to what became West Africa? We know who did, because he left traces, (DNA), which ballooned and expanded where he settled. Definitive proof that Igbos were in the Near East is clear in the result, and that many Israelites traveled with my ancestors down to what became Nigeria reflects in the “Nigerian percentage.” There are at least 35 million Israelites who are now known as Igbos, to the less than 1 million Israelites who didn’t leave the Near East, whose DNA shows in the Middle Eastern percentage.

My DNA results from MyHeritage, for you to see what I mean.

Culled from The Igbos and Jews-An Inter-cultural Study of Israelites. Remy Ilona is the author of the forthcoming book.

About the Author
Remy Ilona, is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside, where he also functions as a teaching assistant. He is also the secretary-general of Hebrew-Igbo people, an Igbo socio-cultural organization. He is also an author of 10 books. He is of Ibo or Igbo extraction, and a lawyer by training, as well as a historian of the Ibo. He is among the leaders shepherding the Ibos re-emerging Judaism.
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