Scared or Greedy: Incentives Surrounding the African Slave Trader

Topics: Atlantic slave trade, Slavery, African slave trade Pages: 4 (1189 words) Published: November 1, 2013
Development of Modern Africa

Scared or Greedy: Incentives Surrounding the African Slave Trader
The role Africans played in the Atlantic slave trade is a hotly debated topic by historians and intellectuals for a reason. Those Africans who participated in the Atlantic slave trade did so under many different influences and motivations. The reasons to partake in the slave trade differed from the particular class, culture, and geographic region of the African traders. Because the African continent is such a large and diverse area one can see how varied these prerogatives may be. Yet, it is a historical fact that African traders contributed to the Atlantic slave trade, at the very least, for their own protection from European firepower, and at the worst—for personal power and purely economic gains. Yet, it is not a question of either-or between the aforementioned reasons for involvement in the slave trade—but where most African traders fell concerning the two levels of engagement. Although the research backing this paper is limited to only three resources and the first five weeks of a Development of Modern Africa class, one must argue that most African traders captured and sold fellow Africans to the Europeans for personal power and a share of the profits from the lucrative slave trade.

Before determining the angle held by African traders, it is pertinent to address related background information before the Atlantic slave trade, to give the argument context. Long before millions of slaves were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to work the plantations of the United States, sub Saharan African traders enslaved between five and seven thousand other Africans annually, and sold them to Northern Africans and Arabs in what was known as the Trans-Saharan slave trade (Gilbert/Reynolds 186-7). Also, African elite owned slaves as luxury items with no significant economic dependence on their labor (Gilbert/Reynolds 142). However, according to historian John...
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