Written by Henry Matamba Harusha M'batika


The Ivory Trade and the Slave Trade in Africa.

Along the southwest coast of North Africa, from Cameroon, at the southeast end of the coastline, to Senegal, Europeans built some sixty castles that served as trading posts. More specifically, European sailors, seeking riches, brought clothes, guns, and other goods to these posts and traded them for human beings, thus eventually creating the infamous Slaves Coast stream within the Gulf of Guinea. The human cargo was thereafter shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and sold to the New World slave owners, who bought slaves to work on their farms, mines and plantations.

During a two hundred year period, from 1440 to 1640, Portugal held the control on the export of slaves from Africa. The country was responsible for transporting over 4.5 million Africans, whereas Britain was eventually responsible for roughly 2.5 million. Between 1450 and the end of the nineteenth century, slaves were obtained from all along the west coast of Africa with the full and active co-operation of African kings and merchants. Besides, Europeans received various trade goods including ivory, droplet, and textiles. From the Europeans, the self-appointed righteous traders received guns that were used to help expand their empire and to capture even more slaves, until the industry had controversial effects on the European colonizers themselves.

The transport of slaves and the export of trade goods from Africa to the Americas via Europe form the main link of the triangular trade. As such, several distinct regions situated in the West African coast were targeted. After kidnapping potential slaves, merchants forced them to walk in slave caravans to the European coastal fortress, sometimes as far as 1,000 miles. Men were often chained up in pairs, wrist to wrist, while women were often used and abused sexually. Only half of the slaves survived.

African slaves were used as a work force. In most cases, the indigenous people had proved unreliable, and Europeans were unsuited to the climate and suffered from tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers. Many of them had experience with agriculture and had kept cattle. They were used to a tropical climate, they were resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be “worked on very hard” on plantations or in mines.

 As a result of the slave trade, a great number of African slaves arrived in the Americas. Some of them were shipped to Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Spanish Empire. Less than 55 percent travelled to the Northern American States formally held by the British.

Works Cited