Bantu expansion in East Africa: mtDNA variation in two Bantu-speaking ethnic groups (Taita and Mijikenda)

Batai K, Babrowski KB, Arroyo JP, Kusimba CM, Williams SR. 2013. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in two ethnic groups in Southeastern Kenya: Perspectives from the northeastern periphery of the Bantu expansion. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 150 (3):482–49. 

My article from my dissertation project was published on the March issue of American Journal of Physical Anthropology.  We found a great genetic diversity in small Bantu-speaking ethnic groups in southeastern Kenya, the Taita and Mijikenda.  The Taita was genetically similar to the Turkana, Nilo-Saharan-speaking ethnic group in Kenya.  The Mijikenda showed mtDNA variation between the Central African Bantu populations and Northeastern East African populations.  The migration rates between different ethnic groups estimated using MIGRATE were high, and gene flow between different ethnic groups from different language families were common in East Africa.  The results suggest that the Bantu-speaking groups chose many different strategies as they arrived or after they arrived in East Africa.  Probably, the Taita incorporated local females into their group through inter-ethnic marriage and ethnohistorical studies support this data.  On the other hand, the Mijikenda maintained close ties with other Bantu-speaking groups.

In this paper, I wanted to show that although Bantu languages are very homogeneous, the Bantu speaking populations are genetically very heterogeneous and show great differentiation, especially in East Africa.  Although language differences can reduce rates of gene flow, I believe that language difference is not that important, and language and gene have different evolutionary processes.

2 thoughts on “Bantu expansion in East Africa: mtDNA variation in two Bantu-speaking ethnic groups (Taita and Mijikenda)

  1. Nice study on the Bantu expansion in east Africa. I also embarked on this type of study on some tribes in central Nigeria. the mtdna sequences are ready but finding it hard to analyse. I am soliciting for advice and guidance as i am really new to this.

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