The impact of the slave trade on Africa

Great piece. The authors errs though when he says that Islamic countries enslaved both Whites and Blacks and Europeans Blacks only. There were hundreds of thousands of indentured servants and slaves sent from England and Ireland to the New World. As Eric Williams points out in his Capitalism and Slavery,  the plantation slave system was well established before Africans slaves were purchased and brought to the Americas. This was largely due to White slaves being less expensive than African ones.

The African continent was bled of its human resources via all possible routes. Across the Sahara, through the Red Sea, from the Indian Ocean ports and across the Atlantic. At least ten centuries of slavery for the benefit of the Muslim countries (from the ninth to the nineteenth). Then more than four centuries (from the end of the fifteenth to the nineteenth) of a regular slave trade to build the Americas and the prosperity of the Christian states of Europe. The figures, even where hotly disputed, make your head spin. Four million slaves exported via the Red Sea, another four million through the Swahili ports of the Indian Ocean, perhaps as many as nine million along the trans-Saharan caravan route, and eleven to twenty million (depending on the author) across the Atlantic Ocean (1).

Of all these slave routes, the “slave trade” in its purest form, i.e. the European Atlantic trade, attracts most attention and gives rise to most debate. The Atlantic trade is the least poorly documented to date, but this is not the only reason. More significantly, it was directed at Africans only, whereas the Muslim countries enslaved both Blacks and Whites. And it was the form of slavery that indisputably contributed most to the present situation of Africa. It permanently weakened the continent, led to its colonisation by the Europeans in the nineteenth century, and engendered the racism and contempt from which Africans still suffer.


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