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  1. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    They seize numbers of our free or freed black subjects, and even nobles, sons of nobles, even the members of our own family."
    Excerpt from letter from Affonso, King of Congo, to King of Portugal João III, 18 October 1526.

    Within the space of four hundred years millions of people were forcibly taken from Africa as slaves. The majority of them went to the Americas, although many were taken to the Middle East and North Africa.

    Slavery had been practised all over the world for thousands of years, but never before had so many people from one continent been transported to another against their will.

    It is hard to be precise, but around 15 million Africans in total were forcibly taken from the continent into slavery. Large scale slave trading in Africa ceased towards the end of the 19th century, but its legacy of suffering continues today
  2. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    The Roots of Slavery

    The term slave has its origins in the word slav. The slavs, who inhabited a large part of Eastern Europe, were taken as slaves by the Muslims of Spain during the ninth century AD.

    Slavery can broadly be described as the ownership, buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of forced and unpaid labour. It is an ancient practice, mentioned in both the Bible and the Koran.

    As for those of your slaves which wish to buy their liberty, free them if you find in them any promise and bestow on them a part of the riches which God has given you.
    Koran, Chapter 24, Verse 32.

    Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
    Old Testament, Ephesians 6, Chapter 6, Verse 8.

    Indeed, the main religious texts of Judaism, Islam and Christianity all recognise slaves as a separate class of people in society. Going back further in time the Mayans and Aztecs kept slaves in the Americas, as did the Sumerians and Babylonians in the Near East. The Egyptians employed huge numbers of slaves, including the Jews, Europeans and Ethiopians.

    The Greeks and Romans kept slaves as soldiers, servants, labourers and even civil servants. The Romans captured slaves from what is now Britain, France and Germany. Slave armies were kept by the Ottomans and Egyptians.

    In Imperial Russia in the first half of the 19th century one third of the population were serfs, who like slaves in the Americas, had the status of chattels and could be bought and sold. They were finally freed in 1861 by Emperor Alexander II. Four years later slavery was abolished in the southern states of America following southern defeat in the American Civil War.

    In Africa there were a number of societies and kingdoms which kept slaves, before there was any regular commercial contact with Europeans, including the Asanti, the Kings of Bonny and Dahomey
  3. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    African Slave Owners

    Many societies in Africa with kings and hierarchical forms of government traditionally kept slaves. But these were mostly used for domestic purposes. They were an indication of power and wealth and not used for commercial gain. However, with the appearance of Europeans desperate to buy slaves for use in the Americas, the character of African slave ownership changed.

    In the early 18th century, Kings of Dahomey (known today as Benin) became big players in the slave trade, waging a bitter war on their neighbours, resulting in the capture of 10,000, including another important slave trader, the King of Whydah. King Tegbesu made £250,000 a year selling people into slavery in 1750. King Gezo said in the 1840's he would do anything the British wanted him to do apart from giving up slave trade:

    "The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…"

    Some of the descendants of African traders are alive today. Mohammed Ibrahim Babatu is the great great grandson of Baba-ato (also known as Babatu), the famous Muslim slave trader, who was born in Niger and conducted his slave raids in Northern Ghana in the 1880's. Mohammed Ibrahim Babatu, the deputy head teacher of a Junior secondary school in Yendi, lives in Ghana.

    "In our curriculum, we teach a little part of the history of our land. Because some of the children ask questions about the past history of our grandfather Babatu.

    Babatu, and others, didn't see anything wrong with slavery. They didn't have any knowledge of what the people were used for. They were only aware that some of the slaves would serve others of the royal families within the sub-region.

    He has done a great deal of harm to the people of Africa. I have studied history and I know the effect of slavery.

    I have seen that the slave raids did harm to Africa, but some members of our family feel he was ignorant…we feel that what he did was fine, because it has given the family a great fame within the Dagomba society.

    He gave some of the slaves to the Dagombas and then he sent the rest of the slaves to the Salaga market. He didn't know they were going to plantations…he was ignorant…"

    Listen to Mohammed Ibrahim Babatu, great great grandson of the famous Muslim slave trader Baba-ato

    The young Moroccan traveler and commentator, Leo Africanus, was amazed at the wealth and quantity of slaves to be found in Gao, the capital of Songhay, which he visited in 1510 and 1513 when the empire was at the height of its power under Askiya Mohammed.

    "...here there is a certain place where slaves are sold, especially on those days when the merchants are assembled. And a young slave of fifteen years of age is sold for six ducats, and children are also sold. The king of this region has a certain private palace where he maintains a great number of concubines and slaves."

    The ruling class of coastal Swahili society - Sultans, government officials and wealthy merchants - used non-Muslim slaves as domestic servants and to work on farms and estates. The craftsmen, artisans and clerks tended to by Muslim and freed men. But the divisions between the different classes were often very flexible. The powerful slave and ivory trader Tippu Tip was the grandson of a slave.

    The Omani Sultan, Seyyid Said, became immensely rich when he started up cloves plantations in 1820 with slave labour - so successful was he that he moved the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1840.
    Find out more about the Swahilis

    The Asanti (the capital, Kumasi, is in modern Ghana) had a long tradition of domestic slavery. But gold was the main commodity for selling. With the arrival of Europeans the slaves displaced gold as the main commodity for trade. As late as 1895 the British Colonial Office was not concerned by this.

    "It would be a mistake to frighten the King of Kumasi and the Ashantis generally on the question of slavery. We cannot sweep away their customs and institutions all at once. Domestic slavery should not be troubled at present."

    British attitudes changed when the King of the Asanti (the Asantehene) resisted British colonial authority. The suppression of the slave trade became a justification for the extension of European power. With the humiliation and exile of King Prempeh I in 1896, the Asanti were placed under the authority of the Governor of the Gold Coast and forced therefore to conform to British law and abolish the slave trade.

    In 1807, Britain declared all slave trading illegal. The king of Bonny (in what is now the Nigerian delta) was dismayed at the conclusion of the practice.

    "We think this trade must go on. That is the verdict of our oracle and the priests. They say that your country, however great, can never stop a trade ordained by God himself
  4. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    The East African Slave Trade

    In East Africa a slave trade was well established before the Europeans arrived on the scene. It was driven by the sultanates of the Middle East. African slaves ended up as sailors in Persia, pearl divers in the Gulf, soldiers in the Omani army and workers on the salt pans of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Many people were domestic slaves, working in rich households. Women were taken as sex slaves.

    Arab traders began to settle among the Africans of the coast, resulting in the emergence of a people and culture known as Swahili. In the second half of the 18th century, the slave trade expanded and became more organised. There was also a huge demand for ivory, and slaves were used as porters to carry it.

    Listen to a BBC dramatisation of Sultan Seyyid Said's daughter, Princess Salme, talking about her life in Zanzibar

    There were three main reasons why more slaves were required:

    1. The clove plantations on Zanzibar and Pemba set up by Sultan Seyyid Said, needed labour.

    2. Brazilian traders were finding it difficult to operate in West Africa because the British navy was intercepting slave ships. The Brazilians made the journey round the Cape of Good Hope, taking slaves from the Zambezi valley and Mozambique.

    3. The French had started up sugar and coffee plantations in Mauritius and Reunion.

    A number of different people -Arabs and Africans - were involved in supplying slaves from the interior, as well as transporting ivory. They included:

    · the prazeros, descendants of Portuguese and Africans, operating along the Zambezi,
    · the Yao working North East of the Zambezi
    · the Makua operating East of the Yao, closer to the coast
    · the Nyamwezi (or Yeke) operating further north around Lake Tanganyika under the leadership of Msiri and Mirambo, who established a trading and raiding state in the 1850's which linked up with the Ovimbundu in what is now modern Angola

    The most famous trader of all was Tippu Tip, (Hamed bin Mohammed) a Swahili Arab son of a trader, and grandson of an African slave. He was born in Zanzibar of African Arab parentage and went on to establish a base West of Lake Tanganyika, linking up with Msiri. He and his men operated in an area stretching over a thousand miles from inland to the coast
  5. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    The Atlantic Slave Trade

    Before the sixteenth century, slavery was not regarded by anyone (outside or inside Africa) as a particularly African institution. The association between Africa and slavery emerged in the fifteenth century. It was then that ship design made it possible for sailors from the Mediterranean to make long journeys down the coast of Africa and ultimately across the Atlantic to the Americas.

    By the time the slaves reached the coast, they had already undertaken a long journey from inland. They were often bought and sold several times along the way. Many of these transactions were conducted in the market place.

    Salaga, in northern Ghana, was the site of a major slave market. Today, there are still descendants of people who were slaves. The history is vivid in peoples's minds.

    "Ouamkam means bathing. Bayou means slave. So literally it means 'Bathing slaves.' This is the place where all the slaves were bathed. They would bathe them here, rub them with shea butter and make them shine, and they gave them food to eat, to make them look big; then they'd take them to the slave market for sale."

    Listen to Shaibu Inusah on bathing and preparing slaves for sale

    "Salaga is in the southern part of the northern region. Salaga was an old slave market. Caravans used to come all the way from northern Nigeria and other places, Burkina Faso, Mali and so on. Salaga became important for its market in human beings.

    The slaves were brought in here. There were places to store them and most of the time they were actually tied around trees…in the market. There were just one or two rooms that can even be seen up to this date. But most of the time they were tied around, big, big trees, guava trees, close to the market…

    Slavery became a commercial venture. Even local chiefs benefited. When the slaves were brought, the chiefs took a certain number for themselves and sold them to the buyers. People benefited. If you were not a victim, of course, then you benefitted. Sometimes, even the people themselves became victims. Because it was so inhuman that there was no sympathy between them. If you quarrelled with your friend and you managed to capture him you could take him to the market - to sell him.

    With hindsight, we feel remorse that these things happened and our great great grandfathers took part in the trade. But at that time it was a normal thing. It's just like what is happening today. It was a market; people were buying. There was no transaction in cash. It was just gunpowder or guns in exchange for human beings. Sometimes you look at it from a human and religious point of view, sometimes you feel it was a very bad thing…but it happened. "

    Listen to Paramount Chief Of Salaga

    "Slaves were the most important commodity as opposed to other commodities like salt and other mercantile goods that were brought from the south. But definitely slavery dominated the activities here.

    Everybody here in Salaga is a descendant of a slave. Everybody in Salaga, except those of us who have moved in now. But you see people don't feel easy speaking about it. But everybody knows that he is a descendant of slaves. The Gouruma, the Hausa, the Zaboroma, the Hausa, the Dagomba. All the tribes in Salaga, there are thirteen tribes in Salaga, know."

    Listen to Shaibu Inusah on the trade in Salaga

    The Portuguese were particularly keen to explore Africa for wealth and material gain; at the same time they had started up colonies in the Americas, and needed labour to work on plantations there. In the 1440's Africans were captured and taken to Portugal.

    Fifty two years later in 1492 the Italian adventurer Christopher Columbus made the first of his visits to the Caribbean, arriving somewhere near the Bahamas. His aim was to gain wealth for himself and his patrons, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. In 1518 the first slaves were dispatched across the Atlantic.

    Soon Britain, the Netherlands and France were competing with Spain and Portugal for a share of the profits of slavery. This new transatlantic slave trade was very different from the kind of slavery that had existed before.


    The sheer number of slaves taken was unprecedented. The large scale of trading destabilised the social and economic order. By the end of the 18th century one historian estimates 70,000 people a year were captured and taken against their will to the Americas. What is now Angola was reduced in parts to a wasteland. In total, at least 12 million Africans were forcibly removed from the continent.

    Hear how African Americans feel today about forced immigration and slavery, followed by an explanation on the origin of the term African American, and one man's search for his family history

    The Transatlantic slave trade involved an immensely long and terrible journey to the Americas, the Middle Passage.
    Find out more in The Journey: The Middle Passage.

    The Atlantic slave trade was shaped and driven by commercial forces of profit and new patterns of consumption. In the past, slavery had a social and cultural context, rooted in kingship, which imposed definition and restraints on the slave master relationship. In the 15th century the chief goal was profit. Conditions for slaves were very harsh.

    1. Caribbean
    "Poor Daniel was lame in the hip, and could not keep up with the rest of the slaves; and our master would order him to be stripped and laid down on the ground, and have him beaten with a rod of rough briar till his skin was quite red and raw... This poor man's wounds were never healed and I have often seen them full of maggots…He was an object of pity and terror to the whole gang of slaves, and in his wretched case we saw, each of us, our own lot, if we should live to be as old."
    A saltworks in the West Indies, described by former slave Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince.

    2. America
    "When their day's work in the field is down, the most of them have their washing, mending and cooking to do, and having few or none of the ordinary facilities for doing either of these, very many of their sleeping hours are consumed in preparing for the field the coming day; and when this is done…they drop down side by side on one common bed - the cold damp floor…"
    A plantation in the deep south, described by former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass.

    3. Brazil
    "The men and women who created this first great sugar boom in the world lived well. Many stories are told of the opulence of the planters in old Brazil, their tables laden with silver and fine china bought from captains on their way back from the East, doors with gold locks, women wearing huge precious stones, musicians enlivening the banquets, beds covered with damask; and an army of slaves of many colours always hovering."
    Excerpt taken from Hugh Thomas, The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

    There was no hope of returning home; the vast majority of slaves were stuck in the Americas for the rest of their lives. The stigma of slavery remains in America today.

    The status of slaves in America was different to that of those in Africa and Europe. In ancient times a slave in North Africa, Greece or Rome, or in Arab countries, could rise to a position of public prominence. Women might marry into the ruling class.

    No slaves married their masters or mistresses in the Americas, although there were secret relationships, usually forced upon the slave. Whether badly or well treated, slaves were, in American society at large, marked out and despised for the colour of their skin, and so were their descendants.

    "I…took the little sufferer in my lap. I observed a general titter among the white members of the family…The youngest of the family, a little girl about the age of the young slave, after gazing at me for a few moments in utter astonishment, exclaimed: 'My! If Mrs. Trollope has not taken her in her lap, and wiped her nasty mouth! Why I would not have touched her mouth for two hundred dollars'…The idea of really sympathising in the sufferings of a slave appeared to them as absurd as weeping over a calf that had been slaughtered by the butcher."
    Excerpt from Fanny Trollope's Domestic Manners of the Americans. The author is nursing a slave girl who has accidentally taken poison
  6. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    The Journey: The Middle Passage

    At the height of the slave trade in the 18th century an estimated six million Africans were forced to make a journey across the Atlantic often totalling over 4,000 miles. Over 54,000 voyages were made in the course of three hundred years between the 16th and 19th centuries.

    The large proportion of slaves ended up in the Caribbean, approximately 42%. Around 38% went to Brazil, and much fewer, about 5%, went to North America. The journey from Africa to North America was the longest. The journey could take as little as 35 days, just over a month (going from Angola to Brazil). But normally British and French ships took two to three months.

    Ships carried anything from 250 to 600 slaves. They were generally very overcrowded. In many ships they were packed like spoons, with no room even to turn, although in some ships a slave could have a space about five feet three inches high and four feet four inches wide. The slaves were kept between the hold and the deck in appalling conditions.

    Olaudah Equiano gave the first eyewitness account of life on a ship from a slave's point of view.

    "I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything.

    I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me; but soon, to my grief, two of the white men offered me eatables; and on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands and laid me across I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely.

    I had never seen among any people such instances of brutal cruelty; and this not only shewn towards us blacks, but also some of the white themselves. One white man in particular I saw, when we were permitted to be on deck, flogged so unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast, that he died in consequence of it."

    Hear a BBC dramatisation of Olaudah Equiano's account of his experiences

    If sea was rough portholes had to be closed. This often left them gasping for breath and prone to disease.

    "...the excessive heat was not the only thing that rendered their situation intolerable. The deck, that is the floor of their rooms, was so covered with the blood and mucus which had proceeded from them in consequence of the flux, that it resembled a slaughterhouse."
    Alexander Falconbridge, a surgeon aboard slave ships and later the governor of a British colony for freed slaves in Sierra Leone.

    Women and men were kept separately. Men were chained together. In some ships there was a place in the bilges for defecating and urinating over the edge of the ship, in others there were brimming buckets.

    It was very difficult to get to the right place at the right time manacled to other slaves, especially if a slave had diarrhea. After forty or fifty days at sea, the slave ship would stink of urine, faeces, and vomit. As it came into port people could smell it almost before they could see it.

    Women were allowed more freedom than men, being considered less of a threat, and often went out on deck and helped with the cooking. But they paid a price for this in some ships by being the object of constant sexual harassment and even rape, either at the hands of the crew or the captain.

    Food was plentiful although not always of good quality. Daily rations might include yam, biscuits, rice, beans, plantain, and occasionally meat, but the way it was served - one bucket among ten men - induced quarrels and infection. Water was part of daily rations but could be in short supply and unpleasant to drink. The records of one Liverpool slave ship show it carried rather generously a massive 34,000 gallons of water for crew and slaves.

    Unless slaves proved rebellious the captain and crew were at pains not to ill treat them. This was not out of kindness but for commercial reasons. If a slave died, money was lost. However, some captains were notoriously brutal to slaves and crew alike. A ship's surgeon was employed to oversee eating and exercise. Male slaves might be allowed out twice a week on deck and dancing and drumming was encouraged sometimes with words, sometimes with a whip.

    "Exercise being deemed necessary for the preservation of their health they are sometimes obliged to dance when the weather will permit their coming on deck. If they go about it reluctantly or do not move with agility, they are flogged; a person standing by them all the time with a cat- o'- nine- tails in his hands for the purpose."
    Taken from Alexander Falconbridge, An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa.

    There are accounts of rebellious slaves being tortured by having hands, arms and legs cut off, on order of the captain as a lesson to the rest of the slaves, and of women being attacked and disfigured.

    The chief causes of death on ship were dysentery, followed by small pox. A third cause was sheer misery; sometimes slaves willed themselves to die out of sheer depression and hopelessness. They would refuse to eat, and the crew would resort to force feeding, or they would jump over the edge and drown in the sea.

    Losses were recorded but most of these documents have disappeared. It's estimated that an average of twenty percent of slaves were lost in transit, and as many as half the slaves have been known to die in one journey. The worst moment for crew and slaves alike was leaving the African coast.

    "From the moment that the slaves are embarked, one must put the sails up. The reason is that these slaves have so great a love for their country that they despair when they see that they are leaving it for ever; that makes them die of grief, and I have heard merchants…say that they died more often before leaving the port than during the voyage.

    Some throw themselves into the sea, others hit their heads against the ship, others hold their breath to try and smother themselves, others still try to die of hunger from not eating."
    Jacques Savary, businessman, writing at the end of the 18th century
  7. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    Africa's Losses

    Calculating the statistical dimensions of the slave trade, whether in terms of deaths or number of slaves taken from Africa since the 15th century is not easy. Figures for the Spanish and Portuguese colonies are less reliable than those for North America. The continuation of slavery within Africa in the 19th century after abolition is also poorly documented.

    Historical documents containing statistics are not always very reliable. For example, figures for Arab slavery produced by the British government after abolition were inflated as part of the propaganda war against the Arabs in East Africa.

    Indeed there remains a great deal of dispute over the figures for the Arab slave trade. One historian produced a total of 17 million slaves, but this is for a period spanning 13 centuries and encompassing trade in North Africa, the North East and South Africa.

    A more helpful comparison can be made by looking at the figure for slaves leaving Africa annually for Arab lands from East Africa in the first half of the nineteenth century. This figure exceeds 3,000, compared with the estimate for slaves crossing the Atlantic in the late 18th century at an annual rate of 44,000.

    In recent years the slave trade has increasingly been referred to by African Americans as a holocaust (wholesale destruction), and comparisons have been made with the fate of Jews under Nazi rule, as well as the original inhabitants of the Americas at the hands of the first Europeans.

    There are a number of movements calling for reparations (financial compensation) to be made by the countries that used to be slave trading nations. These movements are concerned with not just how many people made the journey, but also the impact of the slave trade on population growth over the centuries.

    Shipping records are a central source; there are also documents relating to the running of plantations and deeds of ownership. The numbers become clearer in the late eighteenth century as the slave trade reaches its peak and the movement for abolition begins to get under way.

    Estimates as high as 50 million have been floated, and for a long time an accepted figure was 15 million, although this has in recent years been revised down.

    Most historians now agree that at least 12 million slaves left the continent between the fifteenth and nineteenth century, but ten to twenty percent died on board ships. Thus a figure of 11 million slaves transported to the Americas is the nearest demonstrable figure historians can produce.

    A number of slaves would have died at the point of capture and more in course of the journey to the coast. A merchant of Luanda in the late 18th century, Raymond Jalama, observed that nearly half of those captured inland were dead by the time they reached the coast.

    The vast majority taken were men and this must have had a huge effect on the population they left behind particularly in a polygamous society.

    It has been calculated through computerised projections that the population in Africa in the mid 19th century would have been double what it was had the slave trade not happened - that means that if there had been no slave trade the population of Africa in 1850 would have been 50 million instead of 25 million.

    People often became slaves for reasons rooted in local disputes, and wars; or they became slaves as a demonstration of wealth and power on the part of a local ruler. However, enslavement at a local level could often lead to a chain reaction of sales from merchant to merchant ending up at the coast where the final sale resulted in being dispatched across the Ocean.

    A large number of people began the journey into slavery as prisoners of war. The Baganda in East Africa, for example, often went to war with their neighbours and took Bunyoro and Basoga people as slaves.

    With the rise of a large commercial slave trade, driven by European needs, enslaving your enemy became less a consequence of war and more and more a reason to go to war. This was particularly so in West Africa where, for example, the conflict between the kingdoms of Oyo and Dahomey resulted in prisoners of war being taken as slaves on both sides and then sold on to the coast.

    Some people were taken into slavery as a punishment. The crime might be witchcraft, theft, or adultery.

    "Every trifling crime is punish'd in the same manner… They strain for crimes very hard in order to sell into slavery."
    Francis Moore, Royal Africa Company, writing in the 1730's.

    Selling someone into slavery could be a way of discharging a debt.

    In Bonny, the largest slave market in the delta of the river Niger many slaves were sold by order of the oracle, Chukwu. The slaves were then sold to merchants, but the oracle was said to have eaten them.

    In the area of Senegal, in the 17th century, slaves were given to the king as part of a village's tribute to him, along with brandy, tobacco and cloth.

    A large number of people were quite simply kidnapped while going about their everyday tasks. Igbos were particularly wary of being kidnapped and always fortified their houses if they left their villages; but some like Olaudah Equiano were caught unawares.

    Elsewhere in West Africa Savanna horsemen would sweep down from the north to launch annual slave raids on agricultural people.

    Occasionally Europeans would kidnap people and turn them into slaves, although by doing this they ran the risk of annoying the chain of African middlemen which extended from the interior to the coast.

    "It was customary for parties of sailors and coast blacks to lie in wait near the streams and little villages, and seize the stragglers by twos and threes when they were fishing or cultivating their patches of corn."
    Richard Drake, recalling life under the command of Captain Fraley of Bristol, whom he served in 1805.

    In times of famine children might be sold. Orphans, widows and poor relations were equally vulnerable.

    Some slaves were born into slavery in Africa. Traders and captains of slave ships preferred these because they were less trouble, having never known anything but slavery
  8. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    African Resistance

    Although slavery is an ancient practice it has had its critics long before the 18th century. In West Africa there were a number of people who kept out of the slave trade, refusing to negotiate with Europeans at all, for example the Jola of Casamance and the Baga (modern Guinea), the last renowned for being unbeatable in battle.

    Paramount Chief Koro Liman IV of the Gwolu Area, in the Sisala West District of Ghana, describes the fortifications constructed to protect the people against the slave raiders.

    "I'm standing in front of the inner wall of the Gwolu protective wall, which protected the great Gwolu from slave raiders and encroachments into Gwolu city in ancient times. We have two walls and this is the inner wall.

    In ancient times when slavery was rampant, our great great ancestor King Tanja Musa built the wall to ward away slave raiders and slave traders from coming into Gwolu to enslave our people.

    The reason we have the inner and outer wall is that between the two walls we had ponds and farms, so that the inhabitants would be protected from being kidnapped by slave raiders.

    First, there was only the inner wall. Then they realised that people who went to farm, find firewood and fetch water were kidnapped by slave raiders. The king found it necessary to construct a second wall and that is why it is a two-walled city. And I know that in the whole of Ghana there are only two such walls."

    Listen to Paramount Chief Koro Liman IV, of the Gwolu Area, in the Sisala West District of Ghana

    The King of Benin (now part of Nigeria) had allowed major slave trafficking in the early sixteenth century. After 1530 the king or Oba could see this was draining the kingdom of male manpower and he banned the sale of slaves. He did keep domestic slaves, but by 1550 there was no slave trade in Benin. Pepper and elephant tusks became the main exports.

    Afonso I, King of the Congo similarly saw the slave trade rapidly grow out of control to the detriment of his authority and the wealth of his kingdom.

    "There are many traders in all parts of the country. They bring ruin…Every day people are kidnapped and enslaved, even members of the King's family."
    Excerpt from letter from Afonso I, King of the Congo to King of Portugal Joao III, 18th October 1526. Quoted by Hugh Thomas' The Slave Trade.

    The Muslim leader and reformer Nasr al-Din denounced slavery to the people of Senegal in the 1670's and banned the sale of slaves to Christians there, undermining the French trade in slaves. Even some of the captains in charge of slave ships knew it was wrong.

    "I can't think there is any intrinsic value in one colour more than another, that white is better than black, only we think it so, because we are so, and are prone to judge favourably in our own case…"
    Captain Thomas Phillips, in his account of his life published in 1694.

    In 1851, some 17 years after slave owning was declared illegal by the British, locally owned slaves in Calabar (now Nigeria), rebelled against the practice of being killed and buried when a king or chief died. The occasion for the revolt was the illness of King Archibong I of Duke Town. Fearing his imminent death, the slaves of Duke Town plantations got together and took an oath never to allow themselves funeral sacrifices to happen again, and then went on the rampage. King Eyo Honesty II of Creek Town (himself the owner of thousands of slaves) then forbade any more killing and burying of slaves when leaders died.

    Many abolitionists were of African descent, campaigning in Britain or in the Americas. As freed slaves, their personal experience leant poignancy to their arguments. Quobna Ottobah Cugoano was born in Ghana and captured at the age of 13. His "Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery", published in 1787, argued eloquently and passionately for an immediate end to slave-owning and trading.

    "…kings are the minister of God, to do justice, and not to bear the sword in vain, but revenge wrath upon them that do evil. But if they do not in such a case as this, the cruel oppressions of thousands, and the blood of the murdered Africans who are slain by the sword of cruel avarice, must rest upon their own guilty heads…"

    Olaudah Equiano (also known as Gustavus Vassa) offers a vivid and detailed account of his life from early childhood in what is now eastern Nigeria through to enslavement. The Life of Olaudah Equiano, published in 1789, was a bestseller.

    "As I was the youngest of the sons, I became, of course, the greatest favourite with my mother, and was always with her; and she used to take particular pains to form my mind. I was trained up from my earliest years in the art of war; my daily exercise was shooting and throwing javelins; and my mother adorned me with emblems, after the manner of our greatest warriors. In this way I grew up till I was turned the age of eleven, when an end was put to my happiness…"

    A quarter of a century later the writer and journalist and former slave Frederick Douglass published his Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845.

    "The whisper that my master was my father, may or may not be true; and, true or false, it is of but little consequence to my purpose whilst the fact remains, in all its glaring odiousness, that slaveholders have ordained, and by law established, that the children of slave women shall in all cases follow the condition of their mothers…"

    Douglass travelled all of Europe campaigning for abolition.

    With the French Revolution in 1789, resulting in violence and executions of the nobility, many abolitionists in Britain were suspected of agitation and undermining the social order. In 1794 working class men in Sheffield made common cause with slaves, calling for their emancipation: "We are induced to be compassionate to those who groan also" (the cutlers of Sheffield quoted by Peter Fryer in his book Staying Power). Similarly the London Corresponding Society, campaigning for the working man's right to a vote, under John Thelwall, saw the corrupt ruling class as both the root of slavery as well as working class oppression.

    In August 1834, Parliament decreed all children under six free in the West Indies. Remaining slaves were to become apprentices, labouring for six years and receiving no wages. Planters, on the other hand, were given financial compensation
  9. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    The End of Slavery

    Slavery has always had its opponents. But the movement to abolish the slave trade only took off in the late 1770's. In 1771 Granville Sharp brought the case of the escaped slave James Somerset before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield. Somerset had escaped and been recaptured in England by his American owner. Mansfield declared,

    "A foreigner cannot be imprisoned here on the authority of any law existing in his own country."

    Somerset was set free. But slaves continued to be sold in Britain and British slaves ships carried on operating, taking slaves to the Caribbean.

    In the 1780's the Quakers under Granville Sharp began to publicly campaign against slavery. At this time slavery was not merely something that happened far away - slaves could be seen for sale in Liverpool and Bristol. West Indian planters took to coming to England with their slaves, pricking the consciences of those who might otherwise not have given slavery a second thought.

    William Wilberforce became a leading abolitionist, tirelessly lobbying public opinion and parliament. Abolitionists also got involved in the Resettlement of Freed Slaves in Africa.

    There were a number factors which hastened the end of slavery:

    · the industrial revolution in Britain brought a new demand for efficiency, free trade and free labour; all this was out of step with slavery.

    · Britain's ties with America were loosened when she lost her colonies in the American war of independence in 1776.

    · Thirteen years later, the French Revolution brought ideas of universal liberty and equality which both inspired those seeking an end to slavery (for example, Toussaint L'Ouverture who led a successful slave revolt in Saint Domingue, (now Haiti), and frightened the pro-slave lobby into stubborn resistance to abolition.

    The nation who had profited most from the trade was Great Britain. In 1807 the British government declared the buying, transporting and selling of slaves illegal, but it was not against the law to own slaves until 1834. In August 1834 Parliament passed a bill freeing all children under six in the West Indies. All other slaves were called apprentices and had to work for nothing for six years. Planters were given compensation totalling £20 million.

    Celebrations were held on all plantations. But the apprenticeships were cruel and exploitative; they were outlawed in 1838. Many ex-slaves stayed on the plantations having no work else to do. Those that left were replaced in the West Indies by indentured Indians. Back in Britain, abolitionists turned their attention to slave ownership in America causing huge resentment.

    They also campaigned against slaves in India, and East Africa, where David Livingstone thought the only way of putting a stop to slavery was to take over the territory where it was going on, thus galvanising imperial ambition in Africa. Slavery continued in South America. Slavery was finally abolished in America after the Civil War with the defeat of the southern states in 1865. But the freed slave in the south continued to suffer.

    "Though no longer a slave, he is in a thralldom grievous and intolerable, compelled to work for whatever his employer is pleased to pay him, swindled out of his hard earnings by money orders redeemed in stores, compelled to pay the price of an acre of ground for its use during a single year, to pay four times more than a fair price for a pound of bacon and to be kept upon the narrowest margin between life and starvation...."
    Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

    All the indignities of segregation remained: inequality in courts of justice and violent harassment from white Southerners, sometimes resulting in torture or murder. This continued unabated until the civil rights movement of the 1960's brought the issue of racism forcibly to the attention of legislators.

    Meanwhile in Africa slavery of the old traditional variety continued in small pockets through the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th century; it was not, for example, finally outlawed in northern Nigeria until 1936. Slavery has still not disappeared. Slavery exists today behind closed doors in many parts of the world including Britain, Africa and the Middle East
  10. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    Resettlement of Freed Slaves

    The Sierra Leone resettlement scheme was designed to provide a new life for 400 destitute mainly black people in London. This was also seen by some as a good way of disposing of a troublesome minority. Olaudah Equiano was appointed commissary of provisions and stores for the emigrant poor going to Sierra Leone.

    Following the American war of independence there was also a large number of slaves and freed slaves who had fought for the British. These black loyalists were rewarded with land in Nova Scotia, but the hostility of white loyalists and the harsh climate made them sign up for Sierra Leone too.

    They were followed by Maroons - slaves who had rebelled against the British in Jamaica and been sent to Nova Scotia as punishment; given the choice, the Maroons left Nova Scotia too for Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone was made a colony in 1808 and the hinterland was proclaimed a protectorate in 1896. In the early years of the colony Sierra Leoneans were great traders. In the middle of the 19th century, Sierra Leone became a great centre for education in West Africa and beyond.

    Liberia was colonised in 1822 by freed slaves coming directly from America through the administration of the American Colonisation Society. Independence was achieved in 1847 under J.J. Roberts, who was born a free man in Norfolk Virginia. He was a successful and ambitious trader, with great diplomatic skills, and was noted for his public speaking.

    "When we look abroad and see by what slow and painful steps, marked with blood and ills of every kind, other states of the world have advanced to liberty and independence, we can not but admire and praise that all gracious Providence, who by his unerring ways, has, with so few sufferings on our part, compared with other states, led us to this happy stage in our progress towards those great and important objects…

    He will miraculously make Liberia a paradise, and deliver us, in a moment of time from all the ills and inconveniences consequent upon the peculiar circumstances under which we are placed…"
    J.J. Robert's Inaugural Address.

    Listen to President J.J.Roberts's Independence speech

    However much Liberians resented America it continued to be a point of reference for the Liberian elite. The indigenous people in turn were hostile to these newcomers from overseas and harassed and attacked them regularly throughout the 19th century.

    "The natives have been kept in a state of rebellion, by influence of one Grando, a chief, who was always opposed to the life of civilisation. Although he sold a tract of land to the government, and received payment, giving his signature, still he has always acted the rogue. He has ever kept Bassa tribe in a state of hostility to the emigrants and the government."
    History of Republic Liberia, by a resident of Monrovia.

    Back in America some abolitionists attacked Liberia for being a place to dump freed slaves, so confusing the issue of emancipation. Like the elite of Sierra Leone, the Liberians of Monrovia focussed more and more on the professions - medicine, law, administration - rather than trade. Education at home and abroad became hugely prized.

    In the 1880's Liberia came up against European colonial ambition, first losing territory to British-ruled Sierra Leone; then the south east of the country was taken by France in 1891 with subsequent territorial losses around the 1900's. However, Liberia along with Ethiopia had the distinction of being self-ruling in Sub-Saharan Africa, where everywhere else was under colonial rule
  11. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    Forces For Change

    By the 15th century a number of important changes to ship design had occurred making long journeys across the ocean possible; the first was the invention of the stern rudder, improving steering; the second was the replacement of one big sail by three masts and many sails. This made handling the ship much easier.

    A vast amount of slaves were traded for guns. Th first small portable firearms came into use in the middle of the 15th century. German gunsmiths are thought to have designed the first trigger. Locksmiths refined the design with a spring mechanism.

    "The report of the guns…seemed to them thunder. As storms were very common in their country, they believed that their fallen brethren had fainted at the sudden claps, and would easily be waked again with a little dawa (magic drugs)."
    Description of a battle with warriors of the African Sultan of Mkahuja. From The Life of Tippu Tip.

    Two thirds of all slaves captured in the 18th century went to work on sugar plantations. This reflected the enormous demand for sugar in food and drink at the time. In the 16th century a pound of sugar in Britain cost the equivalent of two days wages for a labourer. By the 17th century the price of sugar fell by half. In the space of 150 years sugar consumption in Britain rose by 2500 percent. By the late 1790's what had been a luxury only enjoyed by the aristocracy was part of the diet of poor families in Britain. Sugar's cheapness in the 18th century was made possible by slave labour.

    In 1793 Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which enabled cotton to be processed on a large scale (by separating the lint from the seeds). The previous year North America exported 138,328 pounds of cotton, two years later and with gins working full tilt, America exported over one and a half millions pounds of cotton.

    Huge plantations sprung up in Georgia and Carolina. There was a dramatic increase in slaves - between 1800 and 1810 slaves in the United States increased by one third. By 1825 the number of slaves in United States totalled a third of all those in Americas. And yet the actual trading of slaves had dwindled to almost nothing. But new slaves were not being imported from overseas - they were born on American soil
  12. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    Remarkable Facts

    · In 1462 Pope Pius II declared baptized Africans should not be enslaved. Columbus never saw North America. He visited many Caribbean islands and the northeastern tip of South America, as well as the Eastern coast of Central America, but never the mainland.

    · The father of Olaudah Equiano, one of the most famous former slaves and leading abolitionists, kept slaves.

    · An English surgeon thought that two thirds of deaths on the journey were due to melancholy - people captured in slavery just willed themselves to die.

    · A Sonyo prince from the Congo region was captured whereupon the Sonyo people refused to trade anymore with the Dutch; he was returned with apologies.

    · In 1726 the King of Dahomey suggested Europeans should establish plantations in his kingdom - he would supply the slaves.

    · One of the few successful on ship slave rebellions took place in 1840 on the Amistad.

    · In 1930, the Liberian government was accused by the League of Nations of using forced labour to carry out public works
  13. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

    Slavery Timeline

    1444 - first slaves brought to Portugal from northern Mauritania

    1444-5 - Portuguese make contract with Sub-Saharan Africa

    1471 - Portuguese arrive in the Gold Coast

    1482 - Portuguese begin building Elmina Castle on the Gold Coast

    1488 - Bartholomew Diaz goes round the Cape of Good Hope

    1490 - first Portuguese missionaries go to Congo

    1500 - sugar plantations established on island of Sao Tome two hundred miles from coast of West Africa

    1510 - first slaves shipped to Spanish colonies in South America via Spain

    1516 - Benin ceases to export male slaves, fearing loss of manpower

    1518 - first direct shipment of slaves from Africa to the Americas

    1780's - slave trade at its peak

    1652 - Dutch establish colony at Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

    1700 - Asanti begin to consolidate power

    1720's - Kingdom of Dahomey expands

    1776-1783 - American War of Independence

    1787 - 'Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery' by Quobna Ottobah Cugoano published by the Foundation of the Society for the Abolition of Slave Trade

    1789 - French Revolution. 'Life of Olaudah Equiano' published

    1791 - slave uprising in Haiti (Saint Domingue) led by Toussaint L'Ouverture

    1804 - -Danes pass law against slave trade Haitian independence

    1807 - British law passed declaring buying, selling and transporting slaves illegal (ownership continues)

    1808 - North America abolish slave trade

    1814 - Dutch outlaw slave trade

    1823 - founding of Anti-slavery Committee London

    1834 - British law passed declaring ownership of slaves illegal

    1839 - Amistad slave ship rebellion

    1848 - French abolish slavery

    1860-65 - American Civil War

    1865 - 13th Amendment abolishes slavery in America

    1869 - Portugal abolishes slavery

    1886 - slavery abolished in Cuba

    1888 - slavery abolished in Brazil

    1873 - slave market in Zanzibar closed

    1936 - slavery made illegal in Northern Nigeria