DNA experts have questioned Oprah Winfrey's belief that she is a member of South Africa's Zulu nation. The African-American chat-show host announced during a recent visit to South Africa that she had had a DNA test that had shown her to be a Zulu. She also told South Africans she felt "at home" in the country. "I went in search of my roots and had my DNA tested, and I am a Zulu," Ms Winfrey said at a seminar in Johannesburg last week. Professor Himla Soodyall of South Africa's National Health Laboratory Service said it was likely that Oprah Winfrey would have taken a mitochondrial DNA test.
"This involves tracing only one particular line in a person's ancestry, which passes from mother to all her children but then only transmitted to the next generation by her daughters," she said. There is not much to distinguish between various linguistic groups... because they have diversified more recently than genetic differences Professor Himla Soodyall In other words, the test can trace a genetic line of a person only to their mother, their maternal grandmother, and so on, matching only one ancestor in each generation. Identifying a person on the basis of their DNA can only be done by comparing their DNA results with those of other people who were already tested and their data recorded in a database. "The conclusion that she had Zulu ancestry would indicate that Oprah's mitochondrial DNA lineage must have had an identical match to someone in the global database who was identified as a Zulu individual," Prof Soodyall said.