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Slavery in Africa Essay

For almost the entire recorded history in most communities, slavery is a prominent feature. However, slave trade in Africa left a remarkable legacy due to the large numbers of slaves that were involved and also the sufferings that the slaves were subjected to. This makes the slavery that took place in Africa to be of great significance and thus it cannot be ignored. Slavery was outstanding in Africa than in any other part of the world, many years before the transatlantic slavery.

The Lagos maritime town was the first to be used by the Portuguese as a slave market where they could be able to sell the African slaves after they were imported (Evans, Para 3). Slavery in Africa The issue of whether slavery existed in the communities of the sub Saharan Africa before the Europeans arrived in these regions is an issue that is hotly contested between the Eurocentric and Afrocentric academics. But the controversy does not eliminate the fact that slave trade was a prominent feature in Africa.

It is very evident from many historical sources that the Africans were subjected to various forms of slavery. The chattel slavery was practiced by the Europeans via the famous Trans Atlantic slave trade and the Muslims who were conducting the Trans Saharan slave trade. Years after slave trade was abolished in Africa, the vice continued as the colonial powers governing Africa continued to subject Africans to forced labor (Evans, Para 5). Slavery in Africa was practiced by both the Europeans and Muslims.

The Muslims were involved in slave trade across the Saharan region. They based this practice on the Qur’ran which prescribes that slavery should be approached on humanitarian grounds. According to the Qur’ran, free men should not be made slaves and those practicing other religions should be protected. Nevertheless, the increase of the empire of the Islam in Africa led to the harsh interpretation of the Qur’ran law. This made the people who were proclaiming other religions to be considered as ideal candidates of slavery by the Muslims.

Such slaves were either sold by the Muslims to other people who wanted slaves or the Muslims themselves could take them as their own slaves (Miers, pp 130). When the Portuguese arrived for the first time at the African coast of the Atlantic in 1430s, they were only interested in gold and not slaves. However, by the end of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese had already traded more than eighty one thousand African slaves to the neighboring Atlantic islands, Europe and to the Muslim merchants (Evans, Para 7). For two centuries, i. e.

between the years 1440-1640, the Portuguese had the monopoly of exporting slaves to Europe from Africa. It is remarkable that Portugal was the last European nation to abolish slave trade, although France continued to oppress the former slaves through forced labor. It is approximated that during the entire period of slave trade in Africa, which lasted for about four and a half centuries, the slave trade of the trans Atlantic, in which the Portuguese were the main players, managed to export more than four and a half million Africans as slaves to other countries.

However, during the 18th century, when more than six million Africans became slaves in foreign countries, Britain was the most notorious nation practicing the vice, but this fact is usually forgotten by the people who cite the prime role played by Britain in bringing to an end the slave trade not only in Africa but in the entire world (Lovejoy, pp 129). The main aim of slavery in Africa was to provide cheap labor to the countries which were developing at that time and which were in dire need of cheap labor.

The Muslims and countries such as Portugal were the main participants in the trade since they were able to export the slaves from Africa and thus sell them to other countries and creating wealth from the trade. The Africans who were captured as slaves were first taken to the local slave markets where they were sold and later transported via the Atlantic Ocean to other countries where they remained for the rest of their lives as slaves (Miers, pp 220).

Conclusion Slave trade in Africa was very prominent than in any other part of the world. This is because millions of Africans were enslaved by the more powerful nations such as Britain and Portugal. The Africans who became slaves in foreign countries were subjected to a lot of suffering by their masters. They were denied most of their rights and were forced to work for their masters without any pay. Work cited:

Evans, Alistair Boddy; Slavery of Africans and Slavery in Africa (2009): Retrieved on 3rd July 2009 from, http://africanhistory. about. com/od/slavery/a/Slavery101. htm. Lovejoy, Paul E. ; Transformations in slavery: a history of slavery in Africa (2000): Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521784301. Miers, Suzanne; Slavery in Africa: historical and anthropological perspectives (1979): Univ. of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 0299073343.


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