Some West Africans mined gold, salt, iron, copper or even diamonds. African art was primarily religious, and each community had artisans skilled at producing works that would please the tribal gods. The center of African life in ancient and modern times is the family. Since Africans consider all individuals who can trace roots to a common ancestor, this family often comprised hundreds of members. Like Native American tribes, there is tremendous diversity among the peoples of West Africa. Some traced their heritage through the father’s bloodline, some wrought the mothers.
Some were democratic, while others had a strong ruler. Most African tribes had a noble class, and slavery in Africa predates the written record. The slavery known to Africans prior to European contact did not involve a belief in inferiority of the slaves. Most slaves in West Africa were captured in war. Although legally considered property, most African slaves were treated as family members. Their children could not be bought or sold. Many achieved high honors in their communities, and freedom by manumission was not uncommon.
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Plantation slavery was virtually unknown on the African continent. The impending slave trade brings ruin to West Africa. Entire villages disappear. Guns and alcohol spread across the continent. Tribes turn against other tribes as the once-fabled empires fade into history. The Diaspora of African peoples around the world had begun. Two by two the men and women were forced beneath deck into the bowels of the slave ship.
The “packing” was done as efficiently as possible. The captives lay down on unfinished planking with virtually no room to move or breathe.Some will die of disease, some of starvation, and some simply of despair. This was the fate of millions of West Africans across three and a half centuries of the slave trade on the voyage known as the “middle passage. I’ Slaves were fed twice daily and some captains made vain attempts to clean the hold at this time. Air holes were cut into the deck to allow the slaves breathing air, but these were closed in stormy conditions. The bodies of the dead were simply thrust overboard.
Upon reaching the West Indies, the slaves were fed and cleaned in the hopes Of bringing a high price on the block.Those that could not be sold were left for dead. The slaves were then transported to their final destination. It was in this unspeakable manner that between ten and twenty million Africans were introduced to the New World. When immigrants reach a new land, their old ways die hard. This has been the case with most immigrant groups to the New World. The language, customs, values, religious beliefs, and artistic forms they bring across the Atlantic are reshaped by the new realities of America and, in turn, add to its fabric.
The rich traditions ofAfrica combined with the British colonial experience created a new ethnicity the African American. Much controversy arises when attempts are made to determine what African traditions have survived in the New World. Hundreds of words, such as “banjo” and “okra” are part of American discourse. Song and dance traditions comparable to African custom were commonly seen in the American South. Much of African history is known through oral tradition. Folk tales passed down through the generations on the African continent were similarly dispatched in African American communities.Many devout British colonists saw conversion of slaves to Christianity as a divine duty.
Consequently, the Christian religion was widely adopted by slaves. The practice of Christianity by slaves differed from white Christians. The religious beliefs Of many African tribes merged with elements Of Christianity to form voodoo. There were many changes throughout Africa and even America that were caused by slave trade. Today, American students are taught most of the positive effects towards the English, but they don’t tell us about the horrible effects slave trade had on Africans.