Black History Selection 2

The Atlantic Slave Trade


Part 2 Involvement

Those Involved

 African participation in the slave trade

slavetwo1Africans themselves played a role in the slave trade. The Africans that participated in the slave trade sold their captive or prisoners of war to European buyers. Selling captives or prisoners was common practice amongst Africans and Arabs during that era. The prisoners and captives that were sold were usually from neighboring or enemy ethnic groups. These captive slaves were not considered as part of the ethnic group or ‘tribe’ and kings held no particular loyalty to them. At times, kings and businessmen would sell the criminals in their society to the buyers so that they could no longer commit crimes in that area. Most other slaves were obtained from kidnappings, or through raids that occurred at gunpoint through joint ventures with the Europeans. Some Africans kings refused to sell any of their captives or criminals. King Jaja of Opobo refused to do business with the slavers completely. However, Kimani Nehusi notes that with the rise of a large commercial slave trade, driven by European needs, enslaving your enemy became less a consequence of war, and more and more a reason to go to war. Africans role in the Atlantic slave trade was simply the supply of the slaves. Africa was the source of the slaves which were supplied as captives who later became slaves in the Atlantic. Slaves were caught in various ways

African thugs would kidnap easy people at easy times i.e. children babies and women during the night or out of sight from others. This is where the vast majority of slaves got supplied say around 30% were captured through simply abduction.

slavetwo2African leaders
would wage wars in order for the winners or holders of war criminals to sell them off as slaves to Europeans at the coast. They can be compared to the government

Justice system
Criminals committing crimes such as Kidnappers or murders would be sentenced away to being sold to Europeans at the coast

Would lure vulnerable Africans to their ship by showing children materials or things which would attract them to follow them back into the ships where they were simply kidnapped and kept then shipped away.

 European participation in the slave trade

slavetwo3Although Europeans were the market for slaves, Europeans rarely entered the interior of Africa, due to fear of disease and fierce African resistance. The enslaved people would be brought to coastal outposts where they would be traded for goods. Enslavement became a major by-product of internal war in Africa as nation states expanded through military conflicts in many cases through deliberate sponsorship of benefiting Western European nations. During such periods of rapid state formation or expansion (Asante and Dahomey being good examples), slavery formed an important element of political life which the Europeans exploited: As Queen Sara’s plea to the Portuguese courts revealed, the system became “sell to the European s or be sold to the Europeans”. In Africa, convicted criminals could be punished by enslavement, a punishment which became more prevalent as slavery became more lucrative. Since most of these nations did not have a prison system, convicts were often sold or used in the scattered local domestic slave market.

The Atlantic slave trade peaked in the last two decades of the 18th century, during and following the Kongo Civil War. Wars amongst tiny states along the Niger River’s Igbo-inhabited region and the accompanying banditry also spiked in this period. Another reason for surplus supply of enslaved people was major warfare conducted by expanding states such as the kingdom of Dahomey, the Oyo Empire and Asante Empire.

The majority of European conquests, raids and enslavement’s occurred toward the end or after the transatlantic slave trade. One exception to this is the conquest of Ndongo in present day Angola where Ndongo’s slaves, warriors, free citizens and even nobility were taken into slavery by the Portuguese conquerors after the fall of the state.

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