There are two sides to people who blame Europeans for introducing regimes of labor exploitation and markets for enslaved persons from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century, which devastated African societies and those who argue Europeans that had extended older social, economic and political arrangements that already existed in most of Africa. From the class discussions and reading my opinion of the issue is Europeans just commercialized and exploited the slave trading business, so Europeans should not be at fault for starting the slave trade. Slavery has been practiced for almost the all of recorded history; the African slave trade has left a legacy which cannot be ignored. Slavery existed within sub-Saharan African societies before the arrival of Europeans. The internal trade was conducted within the African continent itself. It involved trade between North Africa and West Africa. Africans were exposed to several forms of slavery over the centuries, including slavery under both the Muslims with the sub-Saharan slave trade slave trade, and Europeans through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. For my research topic I will explore the sub-Saharan slave trade though western African kingdoms of the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, and Songhai Empire and how the Europeans effected and expanded slavery in western Africa to the newly founded America. This topic means a great deal to me because in the past I was unaware of the details of the sub-Saharan slave trade and what exactly went on in these early African Kingdoms before the Europeans arrived.
Trans-Saharan trade, between Mediterranean countries and West Africa, was an important trade route from the eighth century until the late sixteenth century. The powerful kingdoms in West Africa great wealth is based on trade rather than conquest. Much warfare goes on between them; this permits the ruler of the most powerful state to demand the submission of the others. The main business was the controlling of the caravans, merchants and camels . These routes run north and south through the Sahara. And the most precious of the commodities moving north is African gold. Camels were the key to the Trans Sahara trade, because camels were adapted to the dessert climate and needed less water and rest. The trade was conducted by caravans of Arabian camels. These camels would be fattened for a number of months before being assembled into a caravan. According to Ibn Battuta, the explorer who accompanied one of the caravans, the average size was a thousand camels per caravan, with some being as large as 12,000 . The caravans would be guided by highly paid Berber guides who knew the desert and could ensure safe passage from their fellow desert nomads. Due to the Trans-Sahara trade Timbuktu was founded and established, Islamic religion prospered, internal trade arose all through western Africa. This trade route opened a new gateway for southern Africa and northern Africa and the Middle East to began to trade good and slaves which exposed a new trade partner to acquire more wealth.
There were various forms of slavery that existed in Africa such as Chattel Slavery which is the servitude relationship where the slave is treated as the property of the owner . As such, the owner is free to sell, trade, or treat the slave as they would other pieces of property, Domestic service while slaves would work primarily in the house of the master but retain some freedoms. Pawnship is the use of people as collateral to secure the repayment of debt. Military slavery was the acquisition and training of conscripted military units which would retain the identity of military slaves even after their service . Some countries in the African continent had their own systems of slavery. People were enslaved as punishment for a crime, payment for a debt or as a prisoner of war. However, African slavery was different from what was to come later. Most enslaved people were captured in battle. In some kingdoms,...
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