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Africa and the Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade

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1 Africa and the Africans in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade


3 Introduction Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua from Djougou (now Benin Republic): he was born in a trade town, he was Muslim, spoke many languages including Arabic, and was taken captive and sold into slavery when his country went to war with a neighboring country. In 1845 Baquaqua was sold into the Atlantic slave trade. He was taken to Brazil, but eventually ended up in New York. He attempted to gain his freedom via the American court system, but was denied. He then fled to Boston and befriended missionaries. He went to Haiti and then came back to New York and studied in the future hopes of a mission trip to Africa. Eventually Baquaqua fled the US to Canada. There he wrote an autobiography in the hopes of raising money to make it back to Africa. Not sure if he ever made it back to his homeland 

4 Africa was under Muslim influences and now the West pulled Africa into a new direction into the larger global economy under its control Africa was changed by Western influence by way of religious conversion, political reorganization, and social changes. Slavery led to the African Diaspora with Africans ending up in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. These individuals brought their culture and began mixing with the native populations producing new cultures. The slave trade wasn’t the only reason for European interest in Africa: -natural resources, markets, and stopping ports Africa was very interesting because the entire continent continued to change during the early modern period of history. It was similar to the Americas in the way indigenous people were treated, but it did fare better than the Americas. This is due to the fact that African countries maintained their independence and autonomy whereas Latin America was overtaken by European nations. In fact during this time African kingdoms expanded and grew!!! (perhaps slavery was a by product of this or a cause of this growth??)

5 Trade routes of Africa 1500-1800

6 Atlantic Slave Trade Portuguese: Set standard. They established factories along the coast. They were forts and trading posts with merchants.(El Mina most important) Now the Portuguese did some raids, but couldn’t hope to maintain control of these factories without the consent and support of the local kings. So the Portuguese brought European commodities, slaves, and in some cases even military support to assist in local wars! Portuguese trade for ivory, pepper, animal skins, and gold. They took advantage of existing African trade routes to reach further in-land. Trade was the basis for Portuguese/African relations, but of course political, religious and social ideas came to follow Portuguese not impressed with the Sengambian small coastal kingdoms made up of Muslims (their enemy). They were impressed with larger kingdoms like Benin. In 1484 made contact with the Kongo. Later, members of the royal family converted and eventually the ruler, Nzinga Mvemba converted. At first there was equality between Portugal and Kongo, but due to the Portuguese enslaving subjects Mvemba moved to end the slave trade in the Kongo. This led to Portugal squeezing Kongo because of its control over the country’s economy.

7 Portuguese reached the Cape of Good Hope in 1487 and continued exploring around the coast. They made contacts with the Mbundu people of (s. Kongo) in 1520’s and by 1570’s established more permanent settlements there (Luanda). They dominated the existing Indian Ocean and Red Sea trade routes along Africa. They established outposts on Mozambique Island, Kilwa, and Sofala. Like in Western Africa the pattern of settlement was similar with the number of permanent settlers being small. In the 17th century the Portuguese would be displaced by their competitors (English, Dutch, French) who would adopt the same practices of fortified trading stations, force and diplomacy with natives, alliances, and commercial interest above all others. Primary reasons at first were gold, pepper, etc. but then moved to slavery as need increased (Brazil and sugar plantations). Slavery has always been around and was a pretty booming industry in Roman times, but after the fall of Rome it declined (decentralization, lack of trade networks, serfdom rising). However in the Iberian peninsula it continued to exist due to African / Muslim contacts. The Portuguese voyages opened a direct route between them and sub-Saharan Africa. By 1441 the first slaves arrived from Africa. After which they became a common trade item. Europeans did raid along coast for African slaves, but this didn’t net enough people. So they turned to trade (which was safer and more profitable). They traded with African rulers. In 1450 raided yielded 50 slaves per year whereas in 1460 with trade 500 slaves were being brought to Portugal. Need grew as sugar plantations developed on Atlantic islands. Dramatically grew with the plantation system in the Americas after 1550


9 Slave Expansion about 12 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic (middle passage) with 10-20% mortality rate so only about million arrived in the Americas! This doesn’t account for the Africans that died in Africa in the slaving wars and forced marches to the coast (some estimate 1/3 died). Slavery started out small, but over time grew. By the 18th century some 7 million slaves were exported (80%). Need stemmed from labor demand, high mortality rates of existing slaves, and the fact that men over women were imported. (slaves worked in very bad conditions=sugar plantations and mines). Exception is the US where slaves worked in fairly good conditions and under a temperate and not tropical climate. The US slave trade based more on internal population growth rather than Atlantic slave trade (4 million slaves out of the 6 million in the Americas). Slaves in the US made up about ¼ of the population whereas slaves in other areas of Latin America comprised 80-90% of the population (British and French Caribbean). At first Portuguese and Spanish received most slaves, but as power changed in the global economy so too did the destination of slaves. After 1650 most African slaves were sent to English and French holdings. By the 18th century Virginia and the Carolina’s were major slave ports. Note that Muslim controlled Sub-Saharan African slave trade continued throughout this period and accounted for another 3 million slaves. These African slaves were exported to different regions Slaves first came from Senegambia, then later west central Africa (Angola/ Zaire). Gold Coast and Slave Coast (Dahomey and Benin) important to the slave trade too


11 Demographic Patterns Trans-Saharan slave trade involved many more women that the Atlantic trade. Women were used as concubines and domestics in North Africa and the Middle East. Whereas in the Americas heavy labor demands required males! Women couldn’t do the work of men and with large mortality rates children were not logical (would die too easy). Africans preferred selling men into slavery and keeping the enslaved women and children for themselves Due to this populations were skewed with large African male populations in the Americas vs. in slave areas of Africa many women. Populations in heavily traffic regions lost about 50% of what their populations should have grown to. However, because of the introductions (thanks triangular trade) of new crops from the Americas like maize and manioc the depleted populations grew and began to recover.

12 Organization For about 1 ½ centuries the Portuguese controlled the Atlantic slave trade (until 1630). They fed Brazil (their main colony) and sold to the Spanish. Growth of plantations in the Caribbean led for competition with other European nations for control of the Atlantic slave trade (the control depended on the top European nation) Dutch captured El Mina in 1637 (Boers), English 1660’s Royal African Company, even the French and Denmark got in on the trade Each nation had its own town and trade port to access captives for slavery Many Europeans affected by tropical diseases like malaria (before they could treat them). Few than 10% of the Royal African Company of England made it back to England alive! Many times agents of various companies dealt directly with local rulers! Spanish developed system of slavery hierarchy where a healthy male (Indies piece) was sold for much more than a woman or child. Sometimes European military campaigns produced slaves or they might be purchased in interior and brought to coast. The local rulers usually tried to maintain control over the trade and establish monopolies over it or tax it for their own benefit. However there were still many private traders despite attempted restrictions European and African were both actively involved in the slave trade and collaborated!!!

13 Slave trade did provide great profits and in some cases a single slaving voyages could possibly make a profit of 300%. However there was much risk involved with the trade. Over time the general profitability ranged between 5-10% ...similar to many other business ventures The slave trade must have supported the growing economy of places like England and helped led to the Industrial Revolution and new economic ideas like capitalism

14 African Societies Labor (slavery) = control of wealth in Africa
Atlantic slave trade was worse than the older Saharan and Red Sea Slavery began to be seen differently more in terms of human chattel ”property with a soul” Various states in Africa owned all of the land therefore the only real way for Africans to gain wealth was via the slave trade. Typically the state tried to create a monopoly, but it never really happened and there were many private slavers. Slaves were used as: servants, concubines, soldiers, administrators in government, and field workers Places like Ghana and Kongo there were entire villages that were enslaved and forced to pay tribute to the ruler African slavery allowed the nobles and rulers to maintain power and control over their subjects! It also allowed them the ability to expand their state over their smaller, weaker neighbors who they’d conquer and sell into bondage (Guns and slave cycle)

15 Slavery had existed for thousands of years in Africa and was already an important economic industry in some regions like Benin and the Kongo. However, the Atlantic trade opened up new opportunities of expansion! The demand was so great and the trade was so lucrative. Female slaves kept within Africa and used to extend lineages. Some historians believe this led to polygamy, large harems, and the decrease in status of women in African societies

16 Sudanic States Islamic slavery! Slavery was seen as a legitimate fate for non-believers but illegal for Muslims (However lets face it many African Muslims were enslaved like Baquaqua). Philosophy summed up by Ahmad Baba of Timbuktu Niger Valley (Songhay / Gao) peasants forced to give agricultural surplus to ruler/nobles. Gold mining, salt production, and caravan work in the area too. European merchants tapped into existing trade routes. Expanding/ centralizing states of Africa became the suppliers of slaves b/c they took these individuals as captives or POW’s during wars of expansion. The King of Kongo had personally 20,000 slaves in his own household! As European monarchs were become increasingly absolute in their powers so too were the powerful king of Africa!

17 Slaving and African Politics
Increased demand for slaves on Africa changed the nature of slavery in Africa and African societies Central and West Africa primarily were small states and the influx of European wealth/ goods along with their demands of slaves created instability in the region. African states expanded by taking over their neighbors and selling off the POW’s into slavery African states started to develop large armies and the warrior/ soldier became increasing important to their stability and power Those Africans under slave attacks became increasingly anti-authoritarian and self-sufficient There was overall a shift in the power of Africa. Power shifted from Ghana/ Songhay that laid between the gold coast and forest of Africa (perfect for trade) more towards the coast. Just beyond the coast central and western kingdoms redirected trade. They had access to European goods (firearms, iron, horses, cloth, tobacco). GUN – SLAVE Cycle. Increased firepower allowed states to expand over their neighbors. This produced more slaves and created a system of perpetual warfare!

18 Asante (w. Africa) Along Gold coast, composed of the Akan people which made about 20 small states The Oyoko clan of the Akan people dominated and began cooperating with other clans to pool power for themselves. They also had access to firearms! Osei Tutu (asantehene) supreme civil and religious leader of the Akan people. Formed the Asante union/ kingdom by linking the clans. A council advised the ruler, new military reforms supported the government and led to expansion of the state. By 1700 Dutch dealt directly with Asante Asante remained powerful until the 1820’s because they had access to firearms which they traded for slaves By the end of the 17th century 2/3 of Asante’s exports were slaves!


20 Benin 1516 the King (oba) limited the slave trade. He directly controlled industries like pepper, textile, and ivory trade. Over time, however, from pressures of demanding Europeans and greedy nobles the Kingdom of Benin gave into the slave trade and began selling them. Yet, the slave trade was never Benin’s primary source of revenue!

21 Dahomey Fon (Aja) people of West Africa. They became powerful in the 17th century The king (Agaja) ruled with a powerful council until the introduction of firearms with Europeans. Then the king b/c of his military might became an autocrat and brutal ruler. He used the slave trade to bring in a study supply of guns. Gun to Slave cycle!!! Slave state well into the 19th century Absolutism in Europe paralleled by growing divine powers of African rulers East Africa/ Sudan-continued Indian Ocean commerce (ivory/ gold/ slaves) with Arabia and North Africa (harems/ households). Few taken by Europeans for plantations in the Americas. Some taken to offshore even coastal plantations like Mauritius. Swahili, Indian, and Arabian merchants set up clove plantations with African slave support. Slavery became a very important feature of east African coastal trade until the end of the 19th century.

22 White Settlers African groups had been expanding south for hundred of years and these groups were mixed farming and pastoral communities Over time pressures from junior lineages and competition for foreign trade led to expansion further south 1652 the Dutch East India Company established a colony at the Cape of Good Hope supplied by Asian labor. Soon the colony expanded and the farmers (Boers) turned to African labor for their needs. This led to warfare with the San and Khoikhoi populations pushed north and west. The colony continued to expand and the white settlers were known as Afrikaners. In 1795 Great Britain seized the Cape Colony and it was officially under its control by They helped the settlers clear out African competitors Some Boers (voortrekkers) moved north in the hopes of better lands. They created independent Boer states. In 1834 the British abolished slavery and restricted the Boers . Some Boers decided to move north - to get away from British regulation (Great Trek). They moved to lands in the midst of a great military upheaval 

23 Mfecane and Zulu (Nguni)
1818 Shaka reformed the government (discipline, new tactics, separate villages for soldiers, can’t marry until after service-sounds like Sparta) Shaka’s own Zulu chiefdom became the center created a growing Zulu state Absorbed or destroyed neighbors/ opposition Shaka brought power to the Zulu’s, but he was cruel which created enemies Shaka was assassinated in 1828, but his reforms and military continued and Zulus remained the most impressive military force in black Africa until the end of the 19th century Rise of the Zulu and other Nguni chiefdoms led to the mfecane = wars of crushing and wandering. People fled, joined, or tried to copy the Zulu like the Swazi kingdom. Alternative was Lesotho (resisted Zulu military example) Southern Africa turmoil from raiding parties, remnants, and refugees. Only Boer firepower allowed them to continue to hold onto their lands In the 1870’s the British and Zulu’s went to war (Zulu wars). Zulu’s were conquered by the British, but only after a great cost

24 Motives Jingoism: described the manipulation of citizens- patriotism
J.A. Hobson-love of nation meant hatred of others Xenophobia-hatred of foreigners melted with nationalism Anti-Semitism-hatred of Jews also melted with nationalism Justified the states actions and treatment toward indigenous populations-social darwinism

25 African Scramble 1876 started the International African Association-Congo-went under the guise of philanthropy, but set up trade stations instead and profited from the sale of ivory 1884: Berlin Conference: established the rules for colonial acquisitions in Africa-had to have economic development territory between European states were settled peacefully-treaties while contention from Africans was handled with force race Rapid development of Europe in the 1870’s led to Africa being targeted Racism-Social Darwinism (racial hierarchy of evolution where white were superior) supported hostile take over of African states Leopold II: King of Belgium was the catalyst for this process in Africa

26 Africa Europeans also fought against white African settlers for control of African territories South Africa: Dutch had moved to area and settled much of S.A. (Afrikaners) British thought that the Afrikaners could never challenge British preeminence in the area 1886 Witwatersrand: gold found-deep in underground and Afrikaners didn’t have investment money needed to dig 1884 machine gun developed and in 1890 the Brussels Convention banned the sale of them in Africa In battles between Africans and Europeans, Africans were massacred-thousands of African deaths compared to less than a hundred European Example-Nigeria European with 500 defeated a 31,000 man Nigerian army!!! Many Europeans followed. Ethiopia the exception

27 Africa Eventually, British are successful, but they promised the Afrikaners that they would make no decisions regarding black Africans majority before returning power back into their hands-ensuring the continuation of segregation British quickly realized that the Afrikaners governmental policies were impediments to their profitable gold production 1895 attempt to overthrow Afrikaners -failed-Jameson Raid (Dr. L. S. Jameson) 1899 under Alfred Milner war between Afrikaners and British broke out-Boer War

28 Slave Lives Africans began adapting to the salve trade and taking advantage by increasing prices and specializing in the trade itself! Broken communities, families, and lives = stories slavery Many died in the slaving wars and trek to the coast (1/3) while about 10-20% died in the Middle Passage. There was a Dutch ship in 1737 where 700 of the 716 slaves died due to bad conditions! Died of disease, bad treatment, poor hygiene, dysentery Some resisted and even overtook their ships like the La Amistad!

29 Africans in Americas African slaves brought to the Americas to work on plantations or in mines. Plantations: sugar, rice, cotton, and tobacco Plantation system existed prior to discovery of the New World-existed in Atlantic sugar islands In English colonies like Virginia indentured servants were replaced with slave labor. Sought after west Africans who completed difficult agricultural and mining work in Africa Slaves also worked as domestics, artisans, and even street ventures. By and large they were involved in agricultural work.

30 American Slave Societies
Hierarchies developed with race and color something different than had existed in Africa Saltwater slaves –from Africa (black) Creole slaves – America born some where even mulattos Creole and especially mulattos given more opportunities like working as domestics and learning specialized skills. They were also more like to by given their freedom (manumission) Hierarchies construction of slaveholders and not slaves themselves. They continued to recognize individuals like spiritual leaders and even tried to maintain affiliations Many rebellions (Caribbean/ Brazil) organized along African ethnic and political lines. (example = Jamaica and the Akan led rebellions) In many areas blacks/ Africans outnumbered natives and Europeans. (Jamaica/ St. Domingue = 80% of population). Many of which were African born . Brazil 1/3 slaves while about 1/3 free people of color = 2/3 of total population. Northern cities of British North America didn’t dependent as much on African slaves, but rather internal population growth. They did not typically practice manumission nor have a significant black free population. Blacks in America became less influenced by Africa as a result. By 1850 fewer than 1% of slaves in North America were African born.

31 People and Gods in Exile
Afro-American culture: African roots mixed with adaptation to American realities. Language, religion, and art survived (tote) Bad working conditions, few women, instability created many problems for Africans and their families. Some plantations tried to mix Africans up with other African groups so that the customs and culture would die, but many merchants dealt with the same areas. Therefore African culture was adapted to fit into the American societies. Religion: converted to Christianity (some already this) and were very devoted to their churches. However, Africans still held onto African religious ideas too: English lands= obeah (African religious practices) Brazil = candomble (Yoruban religious practices) Haiti = vodun (Aja religious practices) Mixed Christian ideas with African religions (fused the two)

32 Muslim Africans –harder
Muslim Africans –harder Brazil the largest slave rebellion in the state was organized by Muslims from Yoruba and Hausa against the white nonbelievers (jihad) Rebellions (recalcitrance-running away or confrontation). Occurred as early as 1508 on Hispaniola!! Run away slaves formed communities in Jamaica, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, and Brazil. 17th century –Palmares of Brazil. Very large runaway slave kingdom (8,000). Colonial powers tried to destroy for a century. Rebellions often times tied to African origins and ethnicity –not the case in North America Suriname-former Dutch plantation colony. 18th century many slaves ran off. Then they launched perpetual warfare against expedition into the rain forest to hunt for them. Eventually a truce developed an today there are more than 50,000 Maroon descendants alive in Suriname and French Guiana

33 End of Trade Enlightenment, revolutions in Europe, Christian revivalism, and even perhaps the Industrial Revolution led to economic, political, and religious changes in the mindset of many leading to the abolition of slavery Enlightenment abolitionist” Rousseau and Adam Smith. Slavery was criticized for it cruelty whereas earlier in history had been seen as positive way to “civilize” barbarian people. John Wesley and William Wilberforce = abolitionists Abolished by English in 1807 and the British tried to imposed this on other countries by pressuring them and capturing illegal slave ships. Slavery was not ended in the Americas until it was abolished in Brazil in 1888

34 Africa and the African Diaspora
Africa drawn into the world economy during the slave trade slowly then more dramatically It reinforced authority in some areas in Africa, created new states, while also leading to the fall of other states African societies in contact with the world economy had to adjust and found themselves usually at a disadvantage. Legacy of the slave trade has been slow to die: displacement of millions

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