The Atlantic Slave Trade
|Goree Island Slave Monument|
Millions of people were dispatched in chains from West African ports running from Senegal to Angola, bound for Brazil, Caribbean and the United States. South Africa did enslave the native population but didn't export them. In fact South Africa did import slaves from Asia.
What where the forces that drove slavery to the America's? The main one was Europeans craving for labor intensive crops like sugar, tea, coffee,tobacco and cotton. Except for cotton these crops where luxuries and some might be called drugs. They needed a huge source of cheap labor.
So where was this labor going to come from. It's not surprising that the Europeans turned to slavery as a labor solution. Slavery including chattel slavery , the most extreme form, in which people are legally defined as property- had a long history in the Old World. At that time most slaves were not Africa but European. The word slavery comes from the world slav referring to the Slavic people of northern Europe who were enslaved in southern Europe. Using European slaves did not work because they could not survive the tropical conditions and diseases in the Americas and Islands.The European colonist first tried to enslave the native population. This failed because 95% of the native population died from Old World diseases like small poxs and measles. Also being on their home territory many were able to escape. It is said that in the century after Columbus sailed to the New World the population of natives lost 90 million.
|Atlantic Slave Trade|
There has been a lot of debate about how many West Africans where shipped to the New World as slaves. A 1999 study by Harvard puts the number at around 11 million. Remember this does not include those who didn't survive capture and the horror of the middle passage.
When American descendant of these slaves return to West Africa here are a few points of interest:
- Goree Island , Senegal - premiere destination for those interested in the history of the trans-Atlantic slave-trade. The main attraction is the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves)
- Elmina Castle, Ghana - One of several former slave forts along Ghana's Atlantic coast, is a hugely popular destination and place of pilgrimage for African-American tourists
- Albreda Island, Gambia - French Slave port now has a slave musuem
- Jufureh, Gambia is the home village of Kunta Kinte
- The Route des Esclaves , Benin - a 2.5 mile road lined with fetishes and statues where the slaves would take their final walk down to beach and to the slave-ships. Important memorials have been set up in the last village on this road, which was the "point of no return".