Consequences of the Slave Trade
Why go back five centuries to start an explanation of Africa’s crisis in the late 1990s? Must every story of Africa’s political and economic under-development begin with the contact with Europe? The reason for looking back is that the root of the crisis facing African societies is their failure to come to terms with the consequences of that contact. Start 15th century- Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource — a work force.
In most cases the indigenous peoples had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were unsuited to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be “worked very hard” on plantations or in mines.
Economics was the driving force. Tinubu square, commercial centre of today’s Lagos and home to Nigeria’s Central Bank, is named after a major nineteenth century slave trader. The transatlantic slave trade and slavery were major elements in the emergence of capitalism in the West. the slave trade and slavery helped to make England the workshop of the world. Profit from slave-worked colonies and the slave trade were major sources of capital accumulation which helped finance the industrial revolution. Okh…. To assess these consequences, we need to look at the three corners of the Atlantic’s “triangular trade”.
First, what effects did the trade (and the loss of so many people) have on Africa itself? Second, how important was the trade to the development of the Americas? Third, what was the impact of the trade on Europe? Could Britain, the first “industrial nation”, have industrialised without the slave trade? The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa Perhaps the hardest of these areas to address is the impact on Africa… The possible negative consequences of the trade were not only economic.
Politically, as African rulers organised the capture of slaves, traditions were created of brutal and arbitrary intervention by the powerful in people’s lives. Meanwhile, as rival African rulers competed over the control of slave-capture and trading, wars could result. On both counts, the Atlantic trade badly affected the political landscape of Africa, and set disturbing precedents for the future. q Africans faced with a new world Slavery gave value to the colonies in the New World which were crucial in the development of international trade.
European traders saw the advantages of helping African kings and chiefs realise their desire to acquire western culture, if not for themselves then for their children Whites assert racial superiority It was during the slave trade and slavery that white people affirmed their superiority over blacks. As the centuries passed Europeans became more and more scornful of black people. By the nineteenth century various theories of black inferiority were developed and used to justify the colonisation of Africa. During the slave trade Africans came to believe themselves to be inferior. They lost confidence in themselves, their culture and their ability to development.
The late Afro-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s comment that few people realise the extent that slavery had “scarred the soul and wounded the spirit of the black man,” holds true not only with respect to the descendants of the Africans who arrived in the New World but also the descendants of those left behind. The backwardness of black Africa,” said the late Senegalese president Leopold Senghor, “… has been caused less by colonialism than by the Slave Trade. ” Demographic Impact
The trans-Atlantic slave trade seriously affected the demographic growth of many African societies directly, and had a more subtle impact on many others. the trans-Atlantic slave trade, populations either declined, remained constant, or had very little growth, usually suffering a varying disproportion between the numbers of men and women.
For the Upper Guinea Coast, for example, slave exports were great enough during the latter half of the eighteenth century to reduce the regional population, and halt growth into the first decade of the nineteenth century. During this period the ratio of men to women dropped to below eighty men per one hundred women. In those societies where there were few slaves taken, population growth was more constant, although demographic effects of the slave trade were still a factor.
The disruption caused by inter-tribal warfare and the capturing of slaves for the European market often heightened the effects of natural disasters such as disease or famine. The effects of a famine could be greatly magnified if fewer people of a village were available to produce food, and a higher death toll as a result would reduce the population even more. As well, the continual interaction between villages brought about by the migrations of slaves across Africa facilitated the spread of diseases, further disrupting the growth of populations.
These disruptions were especially devastating for the region of Angola, where an increase in slave exports in the nineteenth century resulted in an even greater decline in population. – Conclusion The slave trade had a profound economic, social, cultural and psychological impact on African societies and peoples. It did more to undermine African development than the colonialism that followed it. Through the trade the continent lost a large proportion of its young and able bodied population.