The Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 3
Words: 910
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor

The Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade began with the insatiable thirst of the Muslim merchants for slaves. Initially, the Portuguese were only interested in gold and material goods. The primary issue was that sub- Saharan Africa was under the Islamic Empire control, which spread across the northern coast of Africa. The Portuguese brought cloth, wine, tools, and horses for gold and pepper. As they extended their influence over the beach, they formed trading posts. There was barely any market for slaves as domestic workers in Europe. The Portuguese discovered that they could increase profit from gold by transporting slaves from one post to the other along the African Atlantic Coast. This paper seeks to show the impact of the Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade and who is to be blamed for it.

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The Portuguese spotted Muslim traders situated along the coast of Africa as far as Benin. It was not until the Portuguese reached the Kongo Coast that they were out of the Muslim territory. The first European trading post, Elmina, was created on the Gold Coast in the early 1500s. Initially referred to as Sao Jorge de Mina, Elmina became the main trading fort for slaves bought along Benin’s rivers. By 1500, the Portuguese had facilitated the transport of about 80,000 African slaves to these markets, and the European slave trading era began (D’Atanasio et al. 1581). More than forty posts began operations in the colonial era.

The successful triangular slave trade got its name from the fact that it connected the economies of Africa, America, and Europe. The English were the top dogs in slave trading throughout the 18th century (Basu et al. 47). Those, who take full responsibility for this inhumane practice are the European and American slave traders. It is merely placing the blame on one angle as the Native African leaders were accomplices in the slave trade. African rulers gained financially by selling prisoners to European traders. Personal interests were met at the expense of slaves’ lives. As the African merchants captured and sold their people, the slave trade thrived, and the more they put effort into capturing the natives, the more they gained favor with the Europeans.

The white slave traders got slaves quickly without hindrance from some native leaders who even supplied their subjects as raiders and kidnappers. The African leaders could have cared less that the foreigners held their people in dark dungeons with no food and water. Conditions on the transport vessels were so terrible that slaves were exposed to new diseases before reaching their destinations. The slave trade could have been avoided by satisfying the financial wishes and personal interests of African kings. The situation would have been different if the leaders of other sides had fought instead of being so cooperative with the Europeans. If there was a great effort among the Africans to fight off the whites, the trade would have been less successful. The white traders and the African suppliers are all to blame for the slave trade.

The Slave trade was all about kidnapping and capturing Africans by force. Bribery, luring through enticements such as sweets for children, and the use of brute force may have set the foundation for modern-day corruption. Its immediate effect ought to have been traumatic. The main targets of the capturers were adolescent boys, nubile girls, strong and resilient men. The Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade robbed West Africa of its future generation and ruined its development chances.

The irreversible damage to West Africa and its natives caused ethnic and social hostility, economic underdevelopment, and political instability. The transatlantic trade took a considerable toll on the population of young males. A lot of enslaved people brought to the New World were teenage boys and young men. The area was left with old and sickly men and more women, leading to a one-person, many wives and concubines’ situation. There was also a massive number of children per household. However, it was all positives for America and Europe. There was substantial economic development; all provided through cheap African labor.

Historians claim that the Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade heavily retarded the economic growth of Africa (Ezenwa et al. 2). Between the 1500s and the 1800s, there was economic dormancy in Africa which continued to affect the continent. However, as much as this was a difficult time for Africa, there were positive outcomes. The Africans creatively adopted new identities through the combination of African tradition and their experience with the white culture. This interaction has proven to be enrichment of culture that has immensely contributed to today’s global culture.

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Other positive aspects of this experience include awareness of the compensations deserved in Africa, and a whole movement fighting against racism was formed globally. Moreover, African slaves started their new lives, improving their quality of life. Their current descendants enjoy a better lifestyle in terms of human rights. The whole experience may have been devastating for the slaves at the time, but it proves to be a remarkable occurrence in history.

Works cited

Basu, Dipak, and Miroshnik, Victoria. “British Empire and British Industrial Revolution.” Imperialism and Capitalism, Volume I. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020. 33-54.

D’Atanasio, Eugenia, et al. “Y Haplogroup Diversity of the Dominican Republic: Reconstructing the Effect of the European Colonization and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trades.” Genome biology and evolution, 2020. 12.9: 1579-1590.

Ezenwa, Chike A., and Udensi, Vitalis Amasiatu. “Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Roots of Africa’s Arrested Development.” Journal of African Studies and Sustainable Development, 2021.