• patricia tonui

Slave trade in Africa

Updated: Jun 28

Africa is known to be a continent in which slaves were sourced from in the past, these slaves were exchanged with other goods that were brought from outside countries and continents such as America and Arab countries, these slaves were then used in plantations as laborers.

Slavery was not considered a uniquely African custom prior to the sixteenth century by anyone (outside or within Africa).

In the fifteenth century, a link was established between Africa and slavery. Sailors from the Mediterranean were able to make long voyages down the African coast and eventually across the Atlantic to the Americas thanks to advances in ship design at the time. This came to be known as the trans-Atlantic slave trade as it involved crossing of the Atlantic oceans by use of ships.



Trans-Atlantic slave trade can be understood by its sheer magnitude: for 366 years, some 12,5 million Africans were loaded onto Atlantic slave ships. About 11 million people survived the Middle Passage to landfall and life in the Americas.


"File:Slavery, Ships and Sickness.jpg"by Queen Mother Kradin Goree is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


The transatlantic slave trade was an oceanic trade in African men, women, and children which lasted from the mid-sixteenth century until the 1860s. European traders loaded African captives at dozens of points on the African coast. Great majority of the captives were collected from west Africa and central Africa and mostly from Angola.

Sugar plantation that was established in America is considered as the root course of slave trade that began in west Africa, due to this plantation Portuguese and Spanish introduced the trade and they targeted the black people of Africa as they thought they were strong and resistant to tropical diseases.



"File:Salaga slave relics.jpg"by Issahaq abdullah is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


More than half a million African slaves had been transported and enslaved in Brazil before the first Africans arrived in British North America in 1619. That number had risen to more than 4 million by the end of the nineteenth century.

African traders made specific orders from European traders whereby they used ships to bring them after then they would exchange with slaves.

Enslaved Africans were traded for iron bars and textiles, luxury goods, cowrie shells, liquor, weapons, and other items that varied by region and time.



"File:Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Artifacts.png"by ZekethePhotographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


The slave trade in the Indian Ocean, also known as the East African slave trade, was a multi-directional slave trade that evolved over time. Slaves were transported from Africa to the Middle East and Indian Ocean islands as slaves (including Madagascar). Slaves had already traveled a long distance from the interior when they arrived at the coast. Along the way, they were often bought and sold. Many of these dealings took place on the open market.

Ethnic groups such as the Yao, Makua, and Marava were battling each other in central East Africa, and entire tribes on the continent traded with people they had defeated in battles. "Arab Muslims thus came across pre-existing systems that enabled the acquisition of slaves for their purposes." Slaves were taken to Zanzibar to work in clove plantation


Slave rebellion broke out in what is now Haiti at the end of August 1791. The abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, slavery, and colonialism in Africa was greatly aided by that uprising.







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