Sub-Saharan Africans

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Sub-Saharan Africans
Satellite imagery of Africa. The Sahara Desert in the north can be clearly distinguished.
Fertility rates in different countries.
Past and predicted future population numbers 1950-2100 based on the United Nation’s "World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision". See also the article on White demographics.
This article does not duplicate any of the contents of the articles about racial differences that are listed in Template:Race differences. See those articles for such racial differences.

Sub-Saharan Africans are a race originating in Sub-Saharan Africa, but with descendants in various parts of the world, particularly in the Americas. The Sahara desert is a partial barrier against genetic exchange, which has contributed to the races on either side genetically differentiating from one another.


Sub-Saharan Africans have traditionally been named by reference to their dark skin color. Examples include the word Blacks and in some countries the word Colored. Words like Negro, Negroid, and Nigger are derived from the Latin Nigrum meaning "black".

This can be seen as problematic, since it implies that the defining characteristic is the black skin color. This is disproven by, for example, the existence of albinos in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are also very dark-skinned populations in southern India and in Australia that are darker than some populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Furthermore, large racial groups are today usually named after their geographic origin, such as Europeans, East Asians, Amerindians, and so on. The geographic origin is a characteristic shared by all members of a race, unlike skin color.

This article will therefore for clarity use the term Sub-Saharan Africans which is commonly used in the scientific literature.

Groups of Sub-Saharan Africans

A 2009 genetic study found support for extensive migrations and mixing within Sub-Saharan Africa. One example is the extensive spread of Bantu-speaking populations from near the Nigerian/Cameroon highlands to across eastern and southern Africa within the past 5000 to 3000 years.[1]

A diagram of a principal components analysis of global and African genetic data according to the 2009 study can be found here: External Link. It also shows that there are several groups who differ considerably genetically from the other Sub-Saharan Africans and the study stated that these groups may be remnants of a historically more widespread population of hunter-gatherers:

  • The Khoisan in southwest Africa (sometimes considered a separate major race ("Capoids"), different from other Sub-Saharan Africans ("Congoids")).
  • The Pygmies in central Africa.
  • The Hadza in eastern Africa.

A less politically correct view on this is that the Bantu-speakers can be seen as having "colonized" much of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa and as having largely displaced and possibly committed "genocides" against the "native", "indigenous", or "aboriginal" populations.

The diagram also illustrates that Eastern Sub-Saharan Africans are somewhat closer genetically to non-Sub-Saharan Africans, which likely reflects somewhat easier genetic exchange in this region.

Current Sub-Saharan Africans and early human ancestors

A common misconception is that all other races evolved from the now living Sub-Saharan Africans. However, even accepting the Out of Africa theory as completely correct, the ancient ancestors who lived in Africa (and from which all the now living races evolved according to this theory) likely differed to some degree from all currently living races, including current Africans.

Palaeo-anthropological findings have also suggested "that the ancestors of early humans did not die out quickly in Africa, but instead lived alongside their descendants and bred with them until comparatively recently."[2]

See also the article on Recent African origin of modern humans.

Physical characteristics

Richard Lynn states that "The most distinctive features of Africans are their very dark skin, dark eyes, broad nose, thick everted lips, and woolly hair."[3] Note that the Khoisan (Capoids) have somewhat different characteristics.

See the article Race and morphology/physiology‎ and the "External links" section there regarding a much more detailed list.


See the article Race and intelligence regarding this topic in general.

There have been occasional remarkable Sub-Saharan Africans figures such as Marcus Garvey, however, the popular public figures tend to be showmen, athletes, and musicians. Reasons for the lack of a historical high culture created by Sub-Saharan Africans is a cause of heated debate, some argue it is a hard-wired biological issue, others have attempted to find scape-goats such as "colonialism" (despite any extensive European territorial control in Africa being very brief (under a hundred years) and generally built up Africa, rather than destroyed) or slavery (despite this historically being very common in all parts of the world, including Europe and East Asia, which are now highly developed).

Richard Lynn stated in the book Race Differences in Intelligence (2006) that "The ready availability of plant foods, insects, and eggs throughout the year meant that the evolving African peoples in tropical and sub-tropical Africa did not have to hunt animals to obtain meat... ....Hence the Africans had no need to develop the intelligence, skills, tools, and weapons needed for hunting large mammals. Furthermore, the temperature of equatorial Africa varies annually between approximately 32°C. in the hottest month and 17°C. in the coldest, so the African peoples did not encounter the cognitively demanding requirements of having to make needles and thread for making clothes and tents, to make fires and keep them alight, or to prepare and store food for future consumption. It was relatively easy to keep babies, infants, and young children alive because there was no need to provide them with clothing and from quite a young age they were capable of going out and foraging for food by themselves... ....The level of intelligence that evolved in the Africans was sufficient for them to make a little progress in the transition from hunter-gathering to settled agriculture, but not sufficient to develop anything that could be called a civilization with a written language and arithmetic, construction of a calendar, cities with substantial stone buildings, and other criteria set out by Baker (1974)."[3]

U.S. military rejects majority of blacks on intelligence grounds

In the 1960s, the USA still had the military draft. When a young man went before the draft-board, he was given a medical exam and an intelligence test. The lowest scorers would not be allowed in the military.

In 1962, 56% of blacks in the USA -- rising to nearly two-thirds of Southern blacks -- were not eligible for military service because they failed the intelligence test.

Mental Test Failures of Draft Inductees, 1962[4]
Whites Negroes
USA, overall 15.4% 56.1%
Northeast 26.4% 50.1%
East-Central 12.1% 44.5%
Southeast 19.1% 67.7%
South-Central 13.5% 62.3%
North-Central 8.9% 46.9%
West 12.1% 31.1%


Professor Emeritus Tatu Vanhanen remarked in an interview with Kuukausiliite, a monthly magazine supplement of Helsingin Sanomat, that "Whereas the average IQ of Finns is 97, in Africa it is between 60 and 70. Differences in intelligence are the most significant factor in explaining poverty".[5]

Nobel Prize winning biologist James Watson sparked uproar when he said that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really."[6]

See also


  1. Sarah A. Tishkoff et al. The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans. Science 324, 1035 (2009). DOI: 10.1126/science.1172257
  3. 3.0 3.1 Richard Lynn. Race Differences in Intelligence. 2006. Washington Summit Publishers.
  4. Reproduced in "Sex Versus Civilization" (1967), by Dr. Elmer Pendell, p.72 -- Based on a report from the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Policy Planning
  5. Comments in interview could bring charges of inciting racism against PM Vanhanen's father". Helsingin Sanomat. August 12, 2004.
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