What the Slave Trade did to Afrika

This post is on the effects of Slavery on Afrika…once more…the aim is to understand NOT blame. Moreover, by no means is this post exhaustive. It aims to simpley highlight a few key points. ( By the way for hard to find pics of Africa during the slavery era click here.) Thank you for the encouraging words you have said in the past. As for the racist remarks…I won’t even dignify such ignorance with a response. This blog is by an Afrikan for Afrikans…and those who are interested in the continent. May we have the courage to engage in our healing…I mean REALLY do the work required for us to heal…and of course a critical step in that process is learning how we were wounded…so here we go…this is PART of the story.

The Trans-Atlantic and East Coast Slave trades

Slavery occurred on both the West and East coasts of Afrika. The West Afrikan /Trans-Atlantic slave trade moved Afrikans to the Americas whereas the East Afrikan slave trade sent Afrikans to Asia and the Middle East. The most intense period was from about 1300- 1800 AD. Five hundred years of persecution and destabilization is a long time! The slave trade on the West and East coasts of Afrika was abusive, exploitative and inhumane. This slave trade had several negative effects on Afrika. Here are a few of them: Firstly, an enormous amount of human labour was ripped out of Afrika and transplanted to various, predominantly European-owned ventures. The estimated number of Afrikans that were forcibly removed from Afrika range from the few millions to the hundreds of millions. The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade took away the working engine of the continent. When the European slave masters came to Afrika they made a point to take the healthiest and most able-bodied individuals with them. Slave buyers preferred their slaves to be between the ages of 15-35 with a ratio of two men to one woman. The slave trade took Afrika. The removal of the development agents from Afrikan soil led to severe stagnation in Afrikan development as a whole. The slave trade in Afrika was achieved by social violence and barbarism. Afrikans were tricked, beaten tortured and raped into the shackles that led them to bondage. This intense social violence occurred for at least 500 years on the West Coast of Afrika and a bit less on the East Coast of Afrika. In order to avoid capture, Afrikans were on the run all the time, running away from slave traders and running away from Afrikan neighbours who worked in collusion with the predominantly European slave traders. It is basically impossible for individuals to devise economic development strategies when the threat of being carted away and beaten into submission is an ever-present threat for them. Thirdly, slavery caused Afrikans to abandon other modes of production in favour of slave raiding. In Accra and Dahomey, slaves were traded for gold form Brazil thus undermining the gold trade that had flourished in this region for eons. Slave In the Gold Coast the shift form gold mining to slave raiding occurred in a period of 10 years from 1700-1710. Fourthly, the violence and violation of sovereignty entailed in slave raiding led to the spread of war like bushfire across portions of Afrika. War makes normal life impossible. Agricultural activities were negatively impacted in Western, Eastern and Central Afrika as labour was drawn from agriculture and the environment because more volatile and unpredictable in nature. As a result nations were unable to feed the sparse population they had left. An example of this is Dahomey which ‘ in the 16th century was known for exporting food to parts of what is now Togo, was suffering from famines in the 19th century.’ (Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 108) Finally, slavery gave birth to racism. The inhumane treatment meted out to Afrikans by the Caucasian slave traders in particular forced them to devise theories to rationalize the barbaric manner in which they treated the Afrikan slaves. They rationalized that Afrikans had to be inferior beings. These racist theories became so common place that soon it was accepted as gospel truth. The birth of racism is what allowed the Caucasian race to subsequently colonize Afrika and it is what enables them to continue treating Afrika and Her people as subhuman beings whose survival is of no importance.

Caputuring slaves

On the ships…


If slaves resisted




Previous comments on this post

The Angry Mallard Duck said…

This post is missing one basic point. The concept of slavery was stamped out in Europe by the fall of the Roman Empire. It was reintroduced to European culture by Africans who tried to trade their own slaves to European traders and settlers as currency.

Slavery was common in Africa long before the Europeans showed up. When tribes raided one another, they raided not only for goats and whatnot, but for slaves as well. The check that kept this practice in balance was the lack of large market in slaves.

When the Europeans learned of this practice, they introduced that market, and more often than not, bought their slaves from African slave traders.

I know that you quoted the passage from “How Europe underdeveloped Africa” thanks to your bibliography, but keep in mind that not all histories are accurate and complete. All too often the slave trade seems to be laid soley at the feet of villianious Europeans, and while I do not dispute this fact, I will point out that they were not alone in this villiany, nor where they the instigators of it. They merely took unfair advantage of an existing cultural practice.

12:40 PM

Afrikan Eye said…

This is a common misconception about African slavery that is popular…and often used in an attempt to say that ‘well Afrikans were already engaged in slavery so what’s the big deal about the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade?…afterall Afrikans were already treating each other badly’.
This sort of attitude is a clever means of dehumanising Africans further by spreading inaccruacies of ‘innate and indigenous BARBARIC African slavery.’ This line of thinking creates a wall of impersonality and indifference to the horrors of the Trans-Atlanic and East African slave trades because it allows people to say (in the back of thier minds) ‘Well Africans were already doing this to each other before the West or Arabs came in…so the Trans Atalantic and East African slave trades really didn’t introduce anything new to the continent.’ That is a LIE and I encourage you to REALLY read and look into the nature of the indigenous Afrikan slavery. I refer to a book titled Pre-colonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop. But to make life easier I will list here a few CRITICAL disctinctions bewteen African and foreign slavery:
– During the times of INDIGENOUS Afrikan slavery, Afrikans did not go around raiding each others’ villages for the SINGLE purpose of getting slaves. Slaves were usually the result of a war with the conquered group becoming captives and slaves for the victor. Afrikans didn’t just senselessly run around attacking each other to get slaves…we were busy doing other things and building our civilisations. It is, sadly, when Western and Arab/Asian slavery started that Afrikans began to conduct slave raids on each other.
– In certain parts of ancient Africa, slaves composed part of the infantry, the kings army and the Calvary alongside freemen and were treated in the same manner. Slaves of the King enjoyed privileges that many free men did not have.
– In many parts of Africa there were two main types of slaves:
1. There were slaves of the mother’s household who were responsible for running the house alongside the mother. These slaves were respected, feared and consulted by the children. The slaves often became a part of the family and therefore didn’t have a desire to over throw the household or social structure.
2. The slave of the father’s house were’t as warmly embraced into the family as the slave of the other’s house. He/she had no special privileges in society and basically had to ensure that the household was looked after.
– The abuse and barbaric treatment of slaves that characterised foreign slavery of Afrikans was NOT common in indigenous Afrikan slavery. The mistreament of slaves was seriously discouraged as can be see in the fact that if it was known that a noble man abused his slaves, he would lose his stature and respect in society.
– In some (albeit rare cases) slaves actually married into royality.
– In the indigenous Afrikan slavery system you did not remain a slave FOR LIFE. There came a time when you were released into society as a free person. This practice only began to happen in the Western-style slave trade after a great deal of noise-making about the issue.

This is a brief overview and I urge you, if you’re serious about what you’re saying, to look into the implications of your words.
The indigenous African slave trade was a COMPLETELY different creature to that that was brought to Africa by foreigners…and it a SERIOUS problem that when people think about slavery the immediate image is that of the Western and Arab/Asian types slavery. This therefore, as you have illustrated, leads to the misconception that Afrikan slavery had the same character as that of the foreign slavery. It DID NOT… and we should be aware of that.

12:15 PM

giovanni.dicristofano@tin.it said…

Some (simplified) facts.
1) During Roman Empire slavery was much similar to the Slavery in Africa as Afrikan Eye describes.
2) During the Middle Ages in Europe there was widespread a particular kind of slavery. The Slavery of the Land. Peasants were a property of the landlord for life. Peasants lost their freedom but got protection from the invaders. In case, they could shelter inside the landlord’s castle. (Dozens of tales, movies and cartoons describe the Right of the First Night: the virgin wife of the peasant had to spend the first night of her honeymoon with the landlord.). Peasants remained in a condition of slavery in Russia till the year 1860.
3)First slaves in America were WHITE. Poor starving Europeans emigrated to America to work in a condition of near-slavery in coffee or cotton farms. African slaves were imported in America later when the businessmen realized that Africans would cost less and work harder. But an American white bachelor could still buy and marry a white emigrant woman in some market nearby an harbour. Strudel

6:59 PM

Anonymous said…

and boring men who mobs wives?

1:47 PM

sokari said…

Hi, I have set up an African Women’s Reblog at:


Myself and Mshairi are hoping to develop the REblog into a space for African women – we are not sure what yet but would appreciate it if you would have a look through the reblog and add a link to it on your blog.

many thanks

3:31 AM

dark-into-light said…

Fact is.. this world is ruled by the white man. It will always be.

It´s so heart-breaking to see what they´re still doing to our home Africa and our brothers & sisters up to today!
…Then turn right around & start talking about “helping” them poor afros, “supporting” them, when they´re the major cause for all this sh**!

The only thing that would really help us would be them to finally leave our people alone.
Stop interfering and confusing everything & everyone in Africa.

Besides that, an african will always be “just” an african ..no matter where he/she will ever go.
They will never recognize you as a human being like them, instead keep on reminding you how black you are in everything you try to do.

I´m not hatin.. just talking out of experience.
This is just the sad reality.



~ by Afrikan Eye on March 8, 2007.

13 Responses to “What the Slave Trade did to Afrika”

  1. Slavery was supposedly ‘abolished’ 200 years ago this week, yet in London where I live there are no monuments to highlight this. It is very disheartening that I was never taught about slavery in depth at school and at 23 I am only getting an in sight into how poorly the situation really was due to researching events my self and reading up on Frederick Douglass Life of an American Slaves. I am a Nigerian female with a beautiful Nigerian forename and surname, yet many of my counterparts have English names. They do not have a sense of their identity yet we wonder why many black young males over populate our prisons. They join gangs and deviate as they long to belong in a place that has no space for them. Slavery has a huge effect on society today, yet we are told to move on without fully understanding past and our heritage as it has been stripped away from us unwillingly. How can we move on when we do not know where we are coming from? Where are our statues to commemorate those ruthlessly murdered?
    And for what?
    Because our skin is darker than the white man.how sad!

  2. great site! much insight.

  3. Until we examine, diagnose, prescribe the necessary medicines, and apply the medicine to the wounds the healing process will never begin. It will continue to maintain the infectuous state it has since the beggining of slavery.

  4. all i got to say about all this is ” look what africans are doing to africans today!, look at what they did to themselves in the 90’s (rodney king) an carefully look back through history at africas history!so…. remove the aspect of “black, africa an slavery” an you’ll see any other race,creed an origin . NOT just the negro!

  5. Hi,
    I work at a publishing company, and we are publishing a book on the slave trade. While searching the web for images, I came across your site, and I was curious as to where you got these images from. We are specifically thinking of using the image of the hanged man in the book, or on the book cover, because it is so powerful. Can you please let me know the source of this image?

    Thank You.

  6. We Afrcans home and Abroad should just take heart because our forefathers have been treated so bad so far by the slave traders.


  8. We (Blacks/Africans) are the original people of this planet and we are one. Remember that the 4 lighter races were created from us in order to experience the negative aspects that existed within us. We must awaken from this deep sleep we are in. It was foretold that those horrible events of slavery would happen to us, and it did. It was also foretold that the lighter races could only survive for 6,000 years. As of 1914, their time has been up. Take notice of the world around you and how it is changing. Remember why the pyramids were built..remember the laws of nature…remember who you really are..remember that we are all one. 1 Bil 8 Mil = 1

  9. More mention of Arab IMMENSE PROFITING OF AFRICAN ENSLAVEMENTand also Indian-Iranian,plus Turkish slave dealing in addition to the usual Europen involvement for a change.Whites have not always run the world,they won’t run it forever.A focus on European involvement has been the sole focus far too long.

  10. yea…………..it so sad 2 c our ppl like this wish we could do something but we can’t but i know that martin luther king did something………..he is great luv him so sad when watch the movie that i want 2 cry but i can’t but it’s soooooooooo f**kin sad what the white ppl did 2 the african………but god is great u came 2 their country n take them 2 be slave n not payin them money……….

  11. You never get used to seeing or reading about the horrors of slavery. I don’t care if Africans followed suit or not. Evil is Evil and I don’t give a damn who is doing it!!!! OUCH!!!!!

  12. i can describe the situation as barbaric coz Africans were treated as animals and not as human beings.

  13. so horrible, my greatest grandmother was rescued from slave caravans in exchange with chuff. thank heavens, i do not think she would have survived this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: