West African Slave Trade

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, African slave trade Pages: 5 (1850 words) Published: December 7, 2010
West African Slave Trade

The West African Slave Trade was a global event that focused on West Africa. It was the sale and ownership of another human being that was put into slavery. It was a “forced Migration” that lasted 300 years. It was an event that forced 15, 000, 000 people into slavery for a lifetime. From 1551 – 1850 about 15,000,000 people were brought into the slave trade it is said that roughly 5,000,000 did not survive, and may have immediately died before making through the shock of enslavement. About 10,000,000 people in the western hemisphere survived and were sold on the auction block. Generations continued into slavery, the offspring was also brought into slavery. The owners liked the idea of their slaves reproducing. This meant their work force would grow without having to spend much money on slaves. About 250,000,000 lived in slavery throughout the 300 years. West Africa was the source of the slave trade. Between 1450 and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were obtained from along the west coast of Africa with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants. Slavery was also a traditional part of African society -- various states and kingdoms in Africa operated one or more of the following: chattel slavery, debt bondage, forced labor, and serfdom. Ghana, Mali, Songhai were kingdoms that had large economies and supported large populations, they had knowledge of agriculture, and grew many different crops that sustained many people. Because of the West African Slave Trade, These kingdoms were affected by greed and would often go to war and capture prisoners to sell into slavery. Why West Africa? It was all about Economics. Europeans looked toward West Africa because of their knowledge of cultivation and technologies. Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource -- a work force. In most cases the natives had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were no fit to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be "worked very hard" on plantations or in mines. There were two kinds of slaves that were sold; the chattle slave who are productive or field slaves, who usually held a lower status, worked to produce marketable goods. And companion slaves a domestic or house slaves that performed menial household duties for their masters and had a more intimate connection with owner. The companion was recognized as human, usually raised and educated their owners children. A companions slave’s standard of living was much better than the chattle slave who was a field worker looked at as an animal. The chattle slave was more of a commodity to the owner in the hardest form of labor. Humanity was stripped of him was treated very badly and was worked to death. Slaves were forced to work in cotton and tobacco fields. 90% of slaves were chattle slaves. Europeans needed money to hire a work force. Instead they invested by purchasing slaves who were forced work for no money. Shock of enslavement The people of West Africa went through a 5 step process that forced them into enslavement. The first would be captivity. Slave traders would come into the villages and drag the people out of their homes. Or a captured soldier would be sold to slave trade. Slave traders were experienced; they immediately chained their victims by the neck onto a pole to keep the victims from running. Journey from the interior is the second step. The slave traders walked 20-50 mile with 10 captives at a time, keeping down the chance for a rebellion. By 1850 the slave traders were walking up to 100 miles having to go deeper into Africa. Some captives resisted by crippling themselves in hopes that the slave traders would just leave them behind, some...
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