Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Many thought that the population of Africa was severely depleted due to the slave trade was has been estimated to have been at 100,000 a year for three hundred years. It was also assumed that European demand for labor caused African tribes to fight each other to obtain this labor and increase their own wealth. Many assumptions can be correct though they can be viewed through different perspectives. It takes research into the history of a culture to see what really happened and how the deep the impact was. Research has showed that the European demand for human bodies played a part in the increase of warfare by offering tribes items that made “warfare more profitable, at least in the short term.”(1) War was not uncommon, but now there was an added incentive. That changed the political landscape of Africa as tribes began to totally wipe out other tribes instead of pushing until they received the desired tribute. Economically, the loss of labor hurt the “productive potential of the region” that was wiped out and the tribe that was conquered. (2) Now, slaves were not kept to work their own land and resources. Slaves were sold for a profit, and the work was done. In the end “all areas of western sub-Saharan Africa were seriously affected” by the slave trade. (3) Socially, Africa fell apart as tribes turned to tribes that normally would have had small conflicts instead of the all-consuming ones that the slave trade brought forth. The Europeans did not cause slaves to be made of Africans. Africans themselves used other Africans as slaves. The European demand gave profit to the act. Slave trade was horrible but was a part of society. The official slave trade with the colonies gave slavery a new dimension that had never been seen before in the history of the world. Slavery would take a new turn and an ugly turn. It was an act that would change the continent forever and at the same time shape that of the New World as a new culture was brought in and began to create a subculture that would have huge impacts.
(1) Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, (New York: Macmillan Education, 2005), 174.
Shillington, Kevin. History of Africa, New York: Macmillan Education, 2005.