Reclaiming African History: Slavery and its Ugly Head

Slave ships
Slave ships

I am going to start a series on reclaiming our history. I will be talking about slave forts across Africa. There were over 30 slave forts in Ghana only. How many in other countries? We will find out through this exercise. These fortified trading posts were built between 1482 and early 1800s by Portuguese, British, Swedish, English, Danish, Dutch, and French traders that plied the African coast. Initially, they had come in search of gold (in Ghana), ivory (in Ivory Coast), pepper (along the Pepper Coast) and then later, they discovered cheap labor: thus was born the slave trade. There was intense rivalry between those European powers for the control of the West African coast from Senegal, to as far south as Angola.

Slave capture
Slaves marching after capture

It is estimated that over 20 million Africans were sold into slavery during the Atlantic slave trade; this does not account for those who died during the trip aboard the ship (about 1/3), and those who were killed during the capture. Slaves were taken to North America, the Caribbeans, and Brazil. Moreover, this is an estimate for the transatlantic slave trade only, but did you know that slaves were also taken by Arabic sailors from the East Coast of Africa, to places like Saudi Arabia and as far as India?

The Transatlantic slave trade
The Transatlantic slave trade

The Portuguese began dealing in black slaves from Africa in the 15th century. Initially, they purchased slaves from Islamic traders, who had established inland trading routes to the sub-Sahara region. Later, as the Portuguese explored the coast of Africa, they came upon the Senegal River, and found that they could purchase slaves directly from Africans. The European slave trading activity moved south along the African coast over time, as far south as Angola. On the east coast of Africa and in the Indian Ocean region, slaves were also taken from Mozambique, Zanzibar and Madagascar. Many of the slaves were from the interior of Africa, having been taken captive as a result of tribal wars, or else having been kidnapped by black slave traders engaged in the business of trading slaves for European goods. These slaves would be marched to the coast to be sold, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles. Many perished along the way. The captured Africans were held in forts or slave castles along the coast. They remained there for months crammed in horrible conditions inside dungeons for months before being shipped on board European merchant ships chained at the wrists and legs with irons, to North America, Brazil, and the West Indies.

Slaves on board a ship
Slaves on board a ship

Some African rulers were instrumental in the slave trade, as they exchanged prisoners of war (rarely their own people) for firearms which in turn allowed them to expand their territories. The slave trade had a profound effect on the economy and politics of Africa, leading in many cases to an increase in tension and violence, as many kingdoms were expanding.

Inspection of slave for sale
Inspection of slave for sale

The slave trade was responsible for major disruption to the people of Africa. Women and men were taken young, in their most productive years, thus damaging African economies. The physical experience of slavery was painful, traumatic and long-lasting. We know this from the written evidence of several freed slaves. Captivity marked the beginning of a dehumanizing process that affected European attitudes towards African people. Can you imagine losing 1/3 or more of your active population? It is hard to fathom what crippling effect that will have on any country’s progress. That is why, in upcoming months, I will be talking and trying to identify slave forts in Africa, in an attempt to reclaim our history. I know this is a touchy subject, but it is history: the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the joyous. It is important to know history in order to be able to claim the future fully, without any baggage.

4 thoughts on “Reclaiming African History: Slavery and its Ugly Head

  1. shandon THE CHILDREN OF THE SUN (VOL.1) 2 3

    How BLACK EGYPT BECAME WHITE. Ancient Egyptians – The Battle Of Megiddo

    Dear true descendants of Egyptians/Nubians who came from where you are now into the Nile Valley to be the one of the most advanced civilizations in the history of mankind. Developed the origin of spirituality through Egyptian/Kemetic Gods and Goddesses and stories surrounding, that was taken by Greeks who learned hieroglyphic translation from Psammetichus also the exile of Adonis from who shared knowledge of Egyptian gods, they turned it Greek gods and Goddesses and pagan worship. Romans came into Egypt after conquering the Greeks learned our spiritual stories and about Osiris, Horus Isis, Aset etc. through hieroglyphic translation and through European pride turned it into biblical scripture, and our images of Isis and Horus into the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. Europeans have used the bible to enslave the minds of our people not just in Africa, but all other countries where black and white folk live, they made Egyptians out to be bad people especially
    in the bible in order to drive us away from our great past while they use Egyptian, Kush symbols for self empowerment and give ancient Greeks and Romans credit for things like philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, legal system, overall culture because they consider they consider them the fathers of their western civilization, credit for all the things Egypt was really responsible for, that the Greeks learned and the Romans copied. Because of the mass oppression and enslavement of Africans not just in Africa but internationally, robbing us of our heritage, and forcing us to worship a Jesus in their image, to accept that into our culture degrading us until in other continents aside from Africa we’re turning on each other, ashamed to be black, don’t know our history, trying to identify ourselves with cultures and aspects that nothing to do with us. Europeans have used this as an opportunity develop Egyptology, a racist movement by non black scholars to put
    themselves in our Egyptian history to erase us from history. Telling lies, stories, making false examinations to determine that Egyptians were anything but Africans, they’ll give anyone credit as long as it’s not us. They’re putting white images as Egyptians on movies, all the history books, and on the internet just everywhere. Altering our Egyptian statues to make them look white, our temples over the years, defaced. They’re calling Egyptian mummies that are found with thin noses, and un-wooly hair European, taking credit away from the Ethiopians and Somalis. The truth is being spreaded by un-racist educated whites and conscious educated blacks but it doesn’t override the racist western scholars, Hollywood, and Egyptologist who lie to the masses, and rob our people everyday. One of the biggest travesties in all this is too many of us don’t care because we can’t see the value of the culture, like the Europeans do which is why they’re stealing it. I’m
    Shandon Sims, a conscious African American making a attempt to make the true people of such a tremendous culture aware of the atrocities against them, and black folk as a whole. I’ve compiled a collection of links that not only tell and or remind us of what we were and still are, but proof of the whitewashing of Egypt through movies that has no end in sight, and also the start of Egyptology which started a two century long plot to to steal our culture from us.


  2. Akinyi

    The one thing you forget to mention is who steered tribal wars across Afrika for the sole purpose of trading their weapons for gold and humans. And how many Afrikan rulers actually had a choice but to sell humans.


    1. Thank you Akinyi for reminding me of that important fact. Many African rulers barely had any choice in the matter, otherwise their own people would have been taken into captivity instead, and their lands taken over.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Why the name: Lagos? | African Heritage

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