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Slavery in africa europe and jamaica essay

This is absolutely the worst of times to talk about the African participation in slavery. There is strong preference for uncomfortable truths about the matter to be kept out of sight. But this is a good time to undertake a disinterment.

The great early 20th-Century black writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, bitterly complained that "the white people held my people in slavery here in America. They had bought us, it is true, and exploited us. But the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw was: My people had sold me.

  • Other records may have been collected at the various customs houses the records of customs out ports are in CUST series , however many have been lost due to fires, riots and war;
  • However, the discovery of the Americas in 1492 led to the creation of new colonies with a great need for cheap labour, and from the mid-sixteenth century European ships were carrying African slaves to Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America, in steadily increasing quantities;
  • Portugal and Spain continued to export Africans on a large scale to Brazil and Cuba until the mid-nineteenth century, but when this was brought to a halt, the Atlantic slave trade was effectively at an end.

My own people had exterminated whole nations and torn families apart for a profit before the strangers got their chance at a cut. It was a sobering thought.

Africa’s role in slavery

It impressed upon me the universal nature of greed. African kings were willing to provide a steady flow of captives, who they said were criminals or prisoners of war doomed for execution. Many were not, but this did not prevent traders posing as philanthropists who were rescuing the Africans from death and offering them a better and more productive life.

When France and Britain outlawed slavery in their territories in the early 19th Century, African chiefs who had grown rich and powerful off the slave trade sent protest delegations to Paris and London. Britain abolished the slave trade and slavery itself against fierce opposition from West African and Arab traders. Those Africans who were involved in the trade were seldom the helpless victims of a commerce they did not understand: On the contrary, they responded to its challenge.

They exploited its opportunities. In the Arab world, which was the first to import large numbers of slaves from Africa, the slave traffic was cosmopolitan.

  1. In these years, well over one-and-a-half million slaves were carried to the British Caribbean and to British North America, out of a total of over six million captives brought to the Americas as a whole. In the Americas slavery was outlawed finally by all the major states by late 1880s with Brazil being the last to act in 1888 , but it continued in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean up to the 1900s, and persisted in sub-Saharan Africa during the early twentieth century.
  2. Find these by searching our catalogue and filtering your results to only show those from other archives. Also, each country has a separate general correspondence series in FO series, which have annual headings for the slave trade.
  3. It reflected a new wave of popular ideas, especially a re-interpretation of the Christian duty towards the oppressed, as well as a conviction that restricting the freedom of labour was at odds with economic success. The formal abolition campaign was launched in 1787.
  4. Britain did not create the Atlantic slave trade, but there is no denying that it was heavily involved with the trade at its height during the eighteenth century.
  5. Some musters and crew lists may survive in the archives of port towns and cities.

Slaves of all types were sold in open bazaars. The Arabs played an important role as middlemen in the trans-atlantic slave trade, and research data suggest that between the 7th and the 19th centuries, they transported more than 14 million black slaves across the Sahara and the Red Sea, as many or more than were shipped to the Americas, depending on the estimates for the transatlantic slave trade.

Tunde Obadina, a director of Africa Business Information Services, has acknowledged the importance of Britain, and other Western countries, in ending the slave trade. African slave-trading classes were greatly distressed by the news that legislators sitting in Parliament in London had decided to end their source of livelihood.

But for as long as there was demand from the Americas for slaves, the lucrative business continued.

The Rise and Fall of the Slave Trade

A consequence of the ending of the slave trade was the expansion of domestic slavery as African businessmen replaced trade in human chattel with increased export of primary commodities. Labour was needed to cultivate the new source of wealth for the African elites.

The ending of the obnoxious business had nothing to do with events in Africa. Rulers and traders there would have happily continued to sell humans for as long as there was demand for them. As Thomas Sowell, a black conservative American scholar, has pointed out the efforts of the European nations to wipe out slavery have been virtually ignored. But only in Western civilisation.

  • ADM 1 contains letters and reports from captains of the several naval stations;
  • Copies of some treaties have been published as Colonial Office confidential print in CO 879;
  • Prior to clearing from a British port, the master first had to obtain a pass from the Admiralty;
  • At the port, the master of the ship had to provide the collector of customs with a written list of the cargo to calculate duty.

Africans, Arabs, and Asians continued to resist giving up their slaves. Only because Western power was at its peak in the 19th Century was Western imperialism able to impose the abolition of slavery around the world - as it imposed the rest of its beliefs and agendas, for good or evil. Only the overwhelming military power of the West enabled it to prevail on this issue, and only the moral outrage of Western peoples kept their Government's feet to the fire politically to maintain the pressure against slavery around the world.

Ghanaian politician and educator Samuel Sulemana Fuseini has acknowledged that his Asante ancestors accumulated their great wealth by abducting, capturing, and kidnapping Africans and selling them as slaves.

Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Awoonor has also written: We, too, are blameworthy in what was essentially one of the most heinous crimes in human history. Cyrille Oguin, Benin's ambassador to the United States, slavery in africa europe and jamaica essay Wade's remarks came shortly after the release of "the first African film to look at African involvement in the slave trade with the West" by Ivory Coast director Roger Gnoan M'bala.

Let's wake up and look at ourselves through our own image. Instead, they thought of themselves in tribal terms and their slaves as foreigners or inferiors. What William Wilberforce and other abolitionists vanquished, one writer explains, was something even worse than slavery, something that was much more fundamental and could hardly be seen from where we stand today: They vanquished the very mindset that made slavery acceptable and allowed it to survive and thrive for millennia.

They destroyed an entire way of seeing the world, one that had held sway from the beginning of history, and replaced it with another way of seeing the world.

Thomas Sowell notes that "the anti-slavery movement was spearheaded by people who would today be called "the religious Right" and its organisation was created by conservative businessmen.

  • In addition it contains correspondence from the Colonial Office, Foreign Office and the Treasury relating to anti-slaving patrols and slaving intelligence and occasionally proceedings of Mixed Commission Courts and vice-Admiralty Courts;
  • Only because Western power was at its peak in the 19th Century was Western imperialism able to impose the abolition of slavery around the world - as it imposed the rest of its beliefs and agendas, for good or evil;
  • Such a wave of ideas was, in turn, enabled by the emergence of a national "public opinion", via the growth of newspapers and other types of printed matter, and relatively high levels of literacy;
  • And what factors brought it to an end?
  • The Arabs played an important role as middlemen in the trans-atlantic slave trade, and research data suggest that between the 7th and the 19th centuries, they transported more than 14 million black slaves across the Sahara and the Red Sea, as many or more than were shipped to the Americas, depending on the estimates for the transatlantic slave trade.

And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened. But many other sources are freely available on the Web which I have tapped for this piece and which can be easily checked, if prejudice against these uncomfortable truths does not provoke a boycott. Email feedback to columns gleanerjm.