Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean Sea-Board and Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Slave trade in east Africa
Slave trade refers to the selling and buying of human beings as commodities. Africa experienced two types of slave trade.
  1. The Indian Ocean slave trade which was conducted by Asians.
  2. The Trans Atlantic Ocean slave trade conducted by European merchants.
Main peoples involved:
  • Arab traders
  • European merchants
  • African chiefs e.g. Mirambo and Nyungu ya Mawe
  • The Nyamwezi
  • The Kamba
  • The Yao
  • Baganda
  • Banyoro
  • Khartoumers
The Reasons for the Expansion of Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean Sea-Board from the 18th Century
Explain the reasons for the expansion of slave trade in the Indian ocean sea-board from the 18th century
Expansion of the Indian Ocean slave trade
Slavery was practiced since ancient times in Africa. In East Africa slavery was introduced during trade contacts with the Middle East and Far East as early as 2 AD. However slavery was only practiced on a small scale. Slaves were used as farm laborers, domestic servants, guards or soldiers but they were also entitled to some rights. Furthermore slave trade expanded in East Africa during the 18th century.
Reasons for the expansion of slave trade in East Africa during the 18th century
  • Great demands for slaves as soldiers and domestic servants in the Muslim nations of Arabia. Thus the slaves had to come from non Muslim regions like the interior of East Africa. There were major slave markets in Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, Pemba, Kilwa,Mikindani and Mombasa.
  • Slaves were needed as porters, they ferried goods such as ivory and gold from theinterior of Africa to the coast, especially to the American, Indian and British traders whotook part in it.
  • Portuguese slave traders supplied slaves to the Portuguese coffee and sugar plantations in Brazil. In the first half of 18th century Portuguese expanded their plantations. So their source of slaves in West Africa and Mozambique became inadequate hence they came in East Africa.
  • High demand for slave labour in French sugar plantations in Mauritius and Reunion Island. Initially the French depended slaves fro Mozambique but by the 1770s the demand exceeded supply as a result the French came further North to East Africa in search of slaves.
The Techniques Used to obtain Slaves
Explain the techniques used to get slaves
Ways/techniques of obtaining slaves
  • Caravans organised by local chiefs: The local chief sold domestic slaves in exchange for goods like beads, guns and glass. E.g. Mirambo and Isike of Nyamwezi, Nyungu yaMawe of the Kimbu, Machemba of the Yao, Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda and Mkwawa ofthe Hehe.
  • Selling of criminals, debtors, tax offenders and social misfits in society by the local chiefsto the Arab slave traders.
  • Prisoners of war could be sold off especially after inter-community wars.
  • Porters were sometimes kidnapped, transported and sold off to the Arab traders
  • Raiding villages or weak communities: This would begin at night with gun shots and people would scatter consequently leading to their capture.
  • Through inter tribe wars many African became destitute and these would be captured by the slave traders
  • Ambush, they were captured through ambushes during hunting, travelling and gardening.
  • Slaves were acquired from the main slave trade market in Zanzibar
  • Other Africans are also said to have gone voluntarily in anticipation of great wonders and benefits from the Arab Swahili traders
The Social and Economic Effects of Slave Trade on the African Societies
Assess the social and economic effects of slave trade on the African societies
Social and economic effects/impact of slave trade on the people of East Africa
Positive effects
Introduction of new foods, the food introduced through trade routes such foods were maize, pawpaw, rice and groundnuts both at the coast and in the interior.
The increase of farming plantations, in some areas especially the clove plantations were slaves worked.
The interior was opened to the outside world this later encouraged the coming of the European missionaries. Many European Christian missionaries came to east Africa to preach against slave trade and to campaign for its abolition.
The trade routes became permanent routes and inland roads which led to growth of communication network.
Introduction of Swahili language, this was introduced in land and is now being widely spoken in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and eastern Congo.
Introduction of Islamic religion, Islam as a religion was introduced by the Arabs and it spread, especially in Yao land and in Buganda land.
Formation of the new race called Swahili; this race was formed through intermarriages between Arabs and some Africans.
Growth of towns, there was growth of towns such as Tabora and Ujiji.
Slave trade encouraged large scale trade whereby contact was established between the trade masters and indigenous/local population.
Africans were dispersed to other parts of the world e.g. Arabia, America and West Indies. In Africa Sierra Leone and Liberia were founded to accommodate former slaves from Europe and America.
Negative effects
Depopulation of Africans: The people who would have great leaders and empire builders were killed. It is estimated that over 15 to 30 millions of people were sold into slavery while millions died in the process being transported.
Misery, suffering and a lower quality of life for the people in East Africa. This is because they were reduced to commodities and could be bought and sold.
Destruction of villages and families and broken up by slave raiders and never to be reunited, this later resulted in to loss of identity.
Diseases broke out among the slaves, for example the Spaniards introduced syphilis which spread to other traders.
Displacement of people: Many people became homeless and destitute and stayed in Europe with no identity.
Disruption of economic activities: This is because the young and able craftsmen, traders and farmers were carried off, causing economic stagnation as the economic workforce depleted.
Progress slowed down which resulted in famine, poverty and destitution and helplessness.
There was a decline in production of traditional goods such as coffee, beans, bark cloth and iron which greatly hindered the cash economy.
Decline of African industries, which also faced a lot of competition from imported manufactured goods for example the bark cloth and iron working industries.
Introduced of guns to the interior, which caused a lot of insecurity and increased incidences of wars for territorial expansion
Clans and tribe units, languages were broken and inter tribal peace was disturbed for example Swahili language replaced the traditional languages in the interior.
The Psychological Effects of Slavery on its Victims
Assess the psychological effects of slavery on its victims
Slavery reduced Africans to more objects. The Arab slave traders and Caucasian slave owners looked down upon dark-skinned people. They considered them to be inferior and closer to animals than other races. Slaves were greatly mistreated. They worked for long hours under harsh conditions for no pay. They were punished severely for small mistakes and were even killed at their masters will. All of these resulted in psychological effects some of them being:
  • Damage of slave's self worth
  • Inferiority complex before their masters
  • Sufferings due to difficult work
  • Separation of families and homes
  • Loneliness
  • Stress due to unsure about their future, survival and food.Traumatize due to severe punishment
  • Insecurity
  • Fear and doubts
Triangular slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade is customarily divided into two eras, known as first and second Atlantic system.
The first Atlantic system
The first Atlantic system was the trade of enslaved Africans primarily to South American colonies of the Portuguese and Spanish empires; it accounted for only slightly more than 3% for all Atlantic slave trade.
It started (on a significant scale) in about 1502 and lasted until 1580, when Portugal was temporarily united with Spain.
While the Portuguese traders enslaved people themselves, the Spanish empire relied on the Asiento system, awarding merchants (mostly from other countries) the license to trade enslaved people to their colonies.
During the first Atlantic system most of these traders were Portuguese, giving them a nearmonopoly during the era, although some Dutch, English Spanish and French traders also participated in the slave trade after the union, Portugal was weakened with its colonial empire being attacked by the Dutch and British.
The second Atlantic system
The second Atlantic system was the trade of enslave Africans by mostly British, Portuguese, Brazilian, French and Dutch traders.
The main destinations of this phase were the Caribbean colonies, Brazil and Americas a number of European countries built up economically slave dependent colonies in the New World. Amongst the proponents of this system were Francis Drake and John Hawkins
Origin of Trans Atlantic slave trade
Te Portuguese were the first foreigners to capture slaves off the coast of West Africa. They built a fort on Arguin Island (Mauritania) where they bought gold and slaves from Gambia and Senegal. Most of these slaves were taken to plantations in Portugal and Southern Spain.
By 1471 the Portuguese expanded their gold and slave trading activities to Ghana. In 1482, they built Elmina castle to serve as their base there.
Factors for the rise of triangular slave trade
The rise of capitalism: This mode of production depended on exploitation of one man by another. Capitalism emerged in Europe after the decline of feudalism in Europe especially the first stage of capitalism mercantilism where slaves became part of the commodities to be traded to accumulate wealth.
Discovery of marine technology: The invention of gun powder, ship building, compass direction, and motor engine acted as a pushing force for the rise of slave trade, it facilitated the transportation of the commodities and slave dealers.
The discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus on 24 October 1492 opened a new chapter as far as slave trade was concerned it brought high sky demand of cheap labour to work in the new plantations in the Caribbean islands.
The inability of indigenous people to provide cheap labour: Diseases such as smallpox eliminated the natives completely. In other cases such as south in south Carolina, Virginia and new England the need for alliances with native tribe coupled with the availability of enslaved Africans at affordable prices (beginning in the early 18th century for these colonies) resulted in a shift away from native American slavery. Native Americans were very reluctant to provide labour and most of them had been affected with plagues and war and they were very few in numbers. So Africans were the best alternative, therefore the rise of triangular slave trade.
Climatic conditions of the New World meant that Africans could easily live there since they were used to tropical climates and had immunity of tropical diseases more than people from Europe and Asia. They were able to withstand diseases and conditions of the New World.
Prior knowledge about African continent brought by explores: Before the establishment of slave trade many explorers like Vasco Da Gama and Vasco Diaz-all from Portugal-had already navigated Africa and had discovered many sea routes between Africa and the outsiders such prior knowledge helped them to use Africans as slaves.
The expensiveness of White slaves: Before the mid of 17th century the European mercantilists depended on indentured labourers, criminal convicts, contract labourers and refugees from Europe who proved to be expensive and undependable compared to Africans who were not paid anything apart from their basic needs for survival and were slaves for life.
The basic reasons for the constant shortage of labour was that, with large amounts of cheap land available and lots of landowners searching for workers, free European immigrants were able to become landowners after a relatively short time, thus increasing the need for workers as slaves.
Accessibility between the New World and the West African coast, the distance from West Africa to the New World is very narrow bridged with Atlantic Ocean. Thus easy transportation of slaves from Africa
The establishment of more plantations in the New World which called for more demands of slaves initially it was only Portugal and the Dutch that had established plantations but towards the mid of 17th century France and Britain joined. This increased the demand for cheap labour.
The profitability factor: This acted as an attracting force for many mercantilists to join a trade based on unequal exchange imagine exchanging human being with spices, umbrella, gold, ivory with guns, mirrors and cloth.
Accumulation of wealth: Mercantilists accumulated a lot from this trade which enabled them to sustain super profits obtained and in addition to that, many crops could not be sold for profit, or even grown in Europe.
Exporting crops and goods from the New World to Europe often proved to be more cost effective than producing them on the European mainland. A vast amount of labour was needed for the plantations in the intensive growing, harvesting and processing of these prized tropical crops.
Western Africa (part of which became known as "the slave coast‟ and later central Africa, became a source for enslaved people to meet the demands of labour.
The existence of seasonal winds and currents like the north east trade wind, north equatorial current, the south west and the Gulf streams encouraged the growth of this trade by enabling the vessels of the merchants to sail to Africa, New World and Europe.
Impact of the Triangular slave trade
Social effects
  • Depopulation: Many people died during slave raids or were sent abroad as slaves. E.g.400 millions of people were lost in Africa whereby 150 to 200 million were from Eastand Central Africa.
  • Separation of families: Some abandoned their homes due to insecurity, some died while trying to escape and some were taken away as slaves.
  • Fear and suspicion due to frequent wars, raids and ambushes.
  • Intermarriage between the foreigners and indigenous people.
Political effects
  • Decline of states, some states declined because they were weakened when their subjects were captured and sold as slaves. For example Wanyasa were greatly weakened by frequent slave raids from their Yao neighbours.
  • The rise of states: Some strong states arose due to accumulation of wealth from slave trade. E.g. the Yao state under Machemba, Nyamwezi under Mirambo and Bugandakingdom under Kabaka Mutesa.
Economic effects
  • Destruction of African subsistence economy: This was because many people engaged in the slave trade as slave dealers or they were taken as slaves so the activities like handcrafts,iron working, salt mining and pottery destructed.
  • Land alienation: Africans were robbed of their best arable land and were turned into serfs and tenants who had to sell off their labour to Arab land owners for their survival. Watumbatu and Waamidu provided their labour in coconut and cloves plantations.
  • Decline of production due to loss of manpower: Slave masters picked strong and healthy people leaving behind the old, sick and weak who could not work.
The Origins and Impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Africa
Explain the origins and impact of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Africa
  1. Mention five commodities that were brought by early traders from the Far East and theMiddle East.
  2. Outline positive and negative effects of the contacts between people of Africa and thosefrom the Far East and Middle East.
  3. What were the reasons for the Dutch to settle at the Cape?
  4. Explain the causes and effects of triangular slave trade5. Mention five ways used to obtain and abolish slave trade in Africa.


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