There have been intense debates over the geographic origin of African crops and agriculture. Here, we used whole-genome sequencing data to infer the domestication origin of pearl millet (Cenchrus americanus). Our results supported an origin in western Sahara, and we dated the onset of cultivated pearl millet expansion in Africa to 4,900 years ago. We provided evidence that wild-to-crop gene flow increased cultivated genetic diversity leading to diversity hotspots in western and eastern Sahel and adaptive introgression of 15 genomic regions. Our study reconciled genetic and archaeological data for one of the oldest African crops.