The Effect of the Slave Trade on West Africa
This increase was propelled by ongoing European colonization and the growth of industry in the new world, which created a great demand for labor. Consequently, the Europeans expanded the slave trade within Africa and across the Atlantic removing innumerable amounts of persons from the region of the Senegal River to Congo in West Africa.
Slave trading in West Africa could be likened to “a tidal wave [which] tossed people caught its turbulence in its wildly swirls currents of [social], economic and political (Cement, 13).The disadvantages of the trade far outweighed the benefits derived from it. The slave trade destroyed the fabric of West African societies. The mass depopulation of West Africa was one of the most salient effects of the slave trade as was evident in kingdoms such as Congo, Senegal, Angola, CIO, Oho and Doomed. “It is estimated that between 1 700 and 1 850 some eleven million people were taken from West Africa” (Cement, 12). The forced emigration of these individuals resulted not only in a reduction in population numbers but it also crippled the ability of the nations to replenish themselves.This was so as most captives were between the ages of fourteen to fifteen; the age range Of sexual maturity and potency.
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Consequently, there ere lower birthrates and the rate of natural growth decreased. Population numbers also decreased as a result of much mortality in slave raids and due to the maltreatment of captives. Lastly, this depopulation changed the demography of the population to one characterized by mostly, women, children and elderly men. The decline of the population also spurred the breakdown of the family structure in West Africa.In slave raids there was no regard for family ties, once an individual was seen as viable he was captured. Accordingly, many young orphans were left to fend for themselves. Furthermore, there was the erosion of the traditional nuclear family structure and the subsequent development of single parent families.
Moreover, since a greater ratio of men than women were traded, there was a distortion on gender roles; for example women had to take on roles as breadwinners of the families.This disruption of the family precipitated the ultimate disintegration of communities. The slave trade expunged the community life and community spirit in some West African states. Prior to the vicious trade, West African communities were characterized by colonization among errors, happiness, subsistent living, brotherhood and love. However, as a result of the slave trade societies became corrupt; leaders were overtaken with greed and exploited their common people. Individuals became very defensive and suspicious of their own neighbors.Moreover persons became nomadic and fled from their communities to forested areas where they had a better chance of remaining free.
The disruption of the communities also occurred due to the fact that the slave trade induced negative psychological effects on Africans. This trade created immeasurable levels of fear and insecurity, as well as mental instability. This occurred as there was always the looming threat of being captured in a slave raid at any point in time and at any location. Furthermore, the slave trade gave rise to alterations in the social structure of the West African societies.Prior to the trade a structure existed where the most prestigious individuals owned slaves which they used for domestic and field labor, in war and as personal assets. With in slave trade a lack of slaves for such purposes eliminated this structure. Additionally, it became much more difficult for the poor to climb the social ladder as the gap teen the rich and poor widened.
State Leaders who were the main slave traders became richer while the lowly West Africans suffered losses and became poorer.Lastly, the slave trade induced an invasion of the European culture which undermined the ancient African culture. Firstly, the influx of European goods such as cloth led to a change in dress as some persons used this commodity for clothing. Furthermore, African cuisine changed slightly as imported foods like corn replaced African provision. Additionally, the rich music, dance and songs such as the grits; singing about rich men which originated in Sexagenarian, ceased in this new apprehensive environment. Certain religious institutions were perverted to meet the needs of the slaves and were defamed.Cultural development was also limited as the traditional transfer of historical stories from one generation to the next was impeded.
Lastly since skilled craftsmen were captured and enslaved and those who produced art in the risky environment produced inferior types of the art, ancient art and crafts were lost. The slave trade produced minute positive social effects In West Africa. Firstly, the slave trade provided employment to hose Africans involved in the capture and trading of slaves thus contributing to improvements in persons’ standard of living.Furthermore, the crops brought across the Atlantic created a boost in agriculture in some states thus helping to sustain population growth and create a higher class of people in society. The social effects of the slave trade on West Africa were quite severe. While the slave trade wracked some West African economies from its inception, it was a significant source of financial gain for others. Firstly, the slave trade caused economic tragedy in that it induced the export of West Africans most valuable raw material; its human labor in a unsustainable fashion.
Millions of strong, productive youthful men and women were removed from West Africa at faster rates than they could be replaced, this ultimately prevented successive generations from being able to adequately meeting their own needs and develop West Africa. The decrease in West Africans labor supply triggered the decline in agriculture. Prior to the slave trade lands were farmed for commercial and subsistence use, however during the slave trade farm land were abandoned due to the capture of the rammers and their slaves and the fleeing of persons to other area to avoid raids.Places along rivers like the Senegal River where large scale farming was practiced became danger zones where kidnapping took place. Nomads had little access to fertile land and they became susceptible to drought, farming, starvation and malnutrition. Moreover, food shortages occurred and food had to be purchased. The slave trade changed the structure of trade in West Africa, instead of trading gold, ivory bronzer, kola nuts and slaves for beds, cloth, ceramics crafts and weapons as in earlier days, Africans centered the read around trading slaves for guns, gun powder, iron textiles and alcohol.
Moreover, the kings and slave kidnappers became the main beneficiaries of the slave trade who supplied the product which was in high demand. Unfortunately, the goods of the other West African decreased in popularity and these persons felt a great economic strain. Accordingly, the uneven distribution of wealth in that period was clearly defined. Furthermore, when goods like iron and baskets were still in high demand markets for local craftsmen were lost as African merchants imported the same goods these people made for example, cloth, iron, pots and hoes.Moreover, the trade of slaves and the purchase of inferior goods undermined local industries like the salt producing industry, the mining industry and metal works. During that period West Africans no longer wanted to take part in internal trade or intra- African trade and external trade with the Europeans grew. One devastating effect of the slave trade was that the West Africans practiced monoculture where they relied almost exclusively upon slaves as a main crop.
Moreover any decline in the product was accompanied by a decline in a nation’s economy.For example in the 1 sass when war broke out in Oho, the trade was reduced and the state’s income was reduced dramatically. Furthermore, when the Europeans attempted to end the human trafficking in the 18th century this created grave strains on the economies of the chief states involved in the trade ;Shanty, Doomed, Benign, Guiana, Ghana coast and Congo. Lastly, the slave trade weakened the economic potential of many African communities by throwing them off the path of development. Constant tribal wars, raids and frequent kidnappings exhausted communities and led to the stagnation of some economies.Moreover, the slave created a sense of insecurity in some communities which discouraged incentive and economic enterprise which would have stimulated development. The slave trade procured significant positive economic result.
Many West African nations acquired considerable wealth as a direct result of the slave trade. For example, the Shanty Kingdom which became a major exporter of slave grew and developed as due to the profits derived from the trade. Furthermore, the slave trade stimulated the growth and development of States such as Doomed, another large scale trader.These nations had a sure market for heir export crop and while their foreign exchange increased they were able to market themselves to the outside world. Lastly, the local Africans also gained revenue from the slave trade. African rulers captured slaves, sold them to slave specialists, specialists African and Afro-European slaves conveyed the slaves to the coasts where European activity was centered along their trading forts. Revenue also came from rent and taxes the Europeans were made to pay for their occupation of land space and buildings along the West African coast.
The slave trade also affected African politics. The political Structure of most West African states was made up of various tribes which comprised kingdoms led by kings. Although the tribes were engaged in tribal wars prior to the slave trade to expand their tribes and present;e themselves, the trade instigated the increase of these wars. The great demand for slaves changed the motive of those who engaged in tribal wars. Leaders driven by greed now planned wars solely for the capture of large amounts of slave for export. The Europeans did not capture their own victims but rather influenced the capture of slaves.For example in Angola they stirred up warfare between the kingdoms of Kong and Mongo which provided sufficient captives for the trade.
Additionally, the slave trade induced the rise of professional armies, crime and violence with the rise in import of firearms and ammunition. These weapons were used in raids and wars to capture slaves, moreover tribal wars became more bloody and brutal and ended in more fatalities. The slave trade instigated the break down of leadership and led to the corruption of political institution and systems of government.Some local kings, who saw the trade as profitable, increased slave raids and forsook their roles as leaders to become business partners with the Europeans. In some cases the leaders even amended the laws and policies of their states and placed minor offenses in the same category as major crimes punishable by slavery just so they could sell their own people into slavery. Military skills in some areas became more important than the traditional political system. Accordingly, the breakdown of leadership in West Africa retarded the overall development of the region due to the insurmountable political instability which occurred.
Furthermore, attention leaders were captured or killed before their talents and skills were cultivated. Furthermore, the slave trade precipitated transliteration as persons were forcibly removed from their traditional tribal structure in raids and war thus leading to the disintegration of tribes. Lastly, the slave trade was detrimental in that it lent the rise of some kingdoms and the fall of others. Predator states such as Benign, and Doomed and Shanty waged wars and acquired the strength to expand and impose their authority upon their neighbors as a result of the vast economic prosperity acquired in slave raiding.For example, Shanty fought with costal kingdoms on both its north and south to obtain direct trade with the Europeans. Small communities which were neighbors to the expanding states suffered greatly and some of them disappeared completely as their lands were overtaken by their more powerful rivals. The political benefits were derived by only the large expanding states such as Oho which was able to attain political status globally.
Hilary Buckles and Verne Shepherd described the slave trade as “a reign of terror unleashed upon the African Continent”.The effect of this terror was magnified in West Africa where millions of slaves were exported.