Slavery in Africa Before Imperialism and After
Africa can sadly be called the center of the world’s slavery. Slavery’s origins can be traced down to Africa. Of course, before slaves hit the market as a hot trade item, war captives and lawbreakers had been used as slaves in many countries around the world for all time. But the act of the slave market began in Africa. Before the Europeans arrived in Africa, the slave market was much more relaxed. In a way it was just a small community business.
There were Arab flash markets, and the Africans themselves, had been trading slaves for centuries before the Europeans arrived around the 1450s. Their strategy was to charge higher prices for the slaves that could not easily escape back to their homelands or be easily rescued by their kin. Along with that tactic, the slave brokers also purposely separated family members and slaves from the same villages. The African slave trade before the Europeans inhibited the expression of regional African cultures and tribal identities.
When the Portuguese arrived they saw the potential value of the slave trade and quickly adopted the Arab and African policies and practices of the trade. They also added their own systematic traffic in slaves that were sent to work the sugar plantations that Portugal and eventually Spain established on the West African coast. The Portuguese need and desire for slaves completely topped the previous slave trade. And instead of the local African tribal slave system, slave trading became a huge business.
Millions of Africans were taken from their homes and villages to be shipped around the world, but mainly the Americas and Europe. The new work force on the American plantations shaped the future for the Americans. Overall, when the Europeans arrived in Africa the slave trade was quickly turned around and shaped into a super successful and booming business that was one of the Europeans best money making projects.