Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Slavery, Africa, Business, Trade, Commerce, Development, War, Slave

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/08

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As much as it is frowned upon today, slavery has been a prominent phenomenon throughout history. The act of treating human beings as property and stealing them off their rights was widely accepted. The slaves were not to have any privileges unless their masters approved of them. Of all the regions, Africa was the most popular provider of slaves and remained so until the beginning of twentieth century. Many appalling crimes have been carried out in history, but the magnitude of this horrifies everyone even today.
Slavery usually occurs as a result of some warfare. When the social status of one person is lower than the other, the later automatically gains power over the former. As slaves were deprived of almost all basic rights, they were often exploited and maltreated. They were punished severely but were not allowed to ask for justice. Initially in Africa, slaves were kept by a few powerful families but eventually slavery turned into an organized part of the society. From carrying out domestic chores to laboring in the fields, the slaves played an integral part in every field of life. This turned them into a crucial component of the economy as they were always in demand. They were essential to the management of every large plantation. Not just agriculture, their services were also extended to manufacturing, housekeeping and mining. Whenever an enterprise lost a few of its slaves, it hired others immediately; hence the trade went on.
As the Trans-Atlantic trade started in the 16th century, a staggering number of 12.5 million Africans were traded from Africa to the Americas (Angeles). This is one of the defining moments of the African slavery history. This trade was larger than any other that was carried out before this. Prior to this, Africa was a relatively isolated continent with very rare trade relations with other regions. However due to the advancement of trading routes through oceans, the transportation of slaves from Africa to America and other faraway lands became easier. The numbers kept rising until the figures reached to an unprecedented level of 80,000-100,000 slaves exported each year. Every 9 out of 10 African slaves were bought by western Europeans (Angeles). What was once considered to be a taskforce for local plantations, turned into a profitable resource. As stated earlier, slaves were usually captured as a result of wars, however, after this development, they became the reasons wars were fought. This changed the dynamics of Africa where instead of economic development, extortions and wars started getting common.
There are many reasons which led to Africans being the most enslaved people of all times. According to Eric William, “Slavery was not born of racism; rather racism was the consequence of slavery.” It is often believed that racism was the reason behind these staggering numbers of slaves, which eventually turned true as their poor conditions led to the Africans making it easy for the world to buy them and eventually there was no other place in the world where slaves were available in such large quantity. The traders did not have much choice when it came to the demographics of slavery. They bought them in abundance from wherever it was feasible and that was Africa; the cheapest option. This trade eventually gave the Europeans the upper hand over the Africans in many other aspects too.
As Africa remained one of the least developed regions, the amount of wages paid by the European masters served as an incentive over the meager amount that was paid domestically. Slavery was linked with agriculture throughout the African history, therefore, a lack of development in this sector, lead to lower remuneration as compared to what was being paid in Europe and beyond.
An interesting study carried out by Stefano Fenoaltea (Angeles) focuses upon the difference between effort-intensive activities and care-intensive activities. He goes on to state that the work which requires greater effort is well suited for slave labor as they are bought for this purpose only. Whereas analytical jobs like planning and manufacturing need care-intensive approach. Slaves were considered ideal for the effort-intensive jobs as they could be beaten or exploited in many ways. But in care-intensive jobs, rewards and appreciation is the key to progress. It was, therefore, cheaper to buy effort than care when it came to the African market.
In addition to this, since the trade was being carried out openly on such a large scale across Africa, it is apparent that there were no laws protecting the rights of the slaves. There were no government regulations to cease any maltreatment being done to any person enslaved domestically and internationally. This lead to a lack of belongingness amongst the slaves who silently accepted every mistreatment they faced. There was an increased political instability in the region as governments were usually replaced by smaller groups who exercised greater power than others.
As Africa was a highly fragmented society, there was a lack of cohesiveness amongst all the tribes. This means that there were many cultural areas but all were smaller in number. Since it was forbidden to enslave someone from the same society, the foreigners could not carry out any operations to capture slaves in their own countries; hence, they turned to Africa where cultural fragmentation aided them in obtaining many slaves from different villages without causing any collective retaliation. Africa’s division into numerous groups left it vulnerable to attacks and hostile takeovers. This caused little or no development in the region for a very long time. As a result, there were no technological advancements. While the entire world was conducting experiments and progressing further, Africans had no prospects of growth in their own country. This was a major contributor in stopping the slaves from protesting against injustice; they saw no other alternative. They earned better wages in foreign lands than they ever could in their homeland.
With the continuous increase in number of slaves traded, the internal wars hiked up as well. It became common for one village to invade the other and take prisoners who were later sold to the Europeans. Due to the insecurity and uncertainty, the locals started carrying weapons of all kinds which further augmented the need of enslaving other to protect oneself (Nunn). This domestic unrest hindered the way of any positive development and was an open invitation for the outsiders to take advantage of the situation.
It is not just the material growth of a nation which is affected by such constant attacks and imprisonments; the physiological well being of its people is also highly altered. When people grow up to believe that they are meant to be enslaved, then it is hard to remove the embedded fear from their brains for as long as they live. When all they see around themselves is violence and warfare, they stop hoping for peace and betterment. This was also one of the main reasons of the African slave trade; the acceptance of their ill fate by the people.
More than two hundred years after the trade was abolished by the British Parliament, its long term effects can still be seen. Africa lost its most important resource in the shape of all the able-bodied men and women who were traded off to foreign lands. As per one estimate, in absence of slavery, the population of Africa would have been double the 25 million it had reached by 1850 (news.bbc.co.uk). At the time when the entire world was investing in technological advancements and industrial development, Africa was trading its hard working people for the sake of money. This resulted in many regions like Ghana being deprived of attaining their potential growth. As enslaving fellow kinsman was a common practice, somewhere that bone of contention still remains between many tribes. Many of them still hold grudges against each other for not only destroying their previous generations but also stealing the well-being of their future ones. Had all those sturdy men stayed in Africa and worked in the fields of agriculture, industry, manufacturing and technology, things would definitely have been very different right now. Another worrisome finding is that, the slave trade has left strong imprints in the minds of the Africans all over the world who somehow feel suppressed and neglected. When such atrocities occur on such a mass level, the ripples they cause can be felt for a long time to come. Same is the case with the African Slavery.

Works cited

Angeles, Luis. “On the causes of the African slave trade”. 2011.
Nunn, Nathan. “The long-term effects of the Africa slave trade”. National Bureau of Economic Research. 2007.
Bbc.co.uk. “Slavery’s long effects on Africa”. 29 Mar. 2007.

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WePapers. (2020, November, 08) Essay On Africa’s Slave Trades. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-africas-slave-trades/
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"Essay On Africa’s Slave Trades." WePapers, Nov 08, 2020. Accessed May 15, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-africas-slave-trades/
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Essay On Africa’s Slave Trades. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-africas-slave-trades/. Published Nov 08, 2020. Accessed May 15, 2021.
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