SCHOOL BASED ASSESSMENT RESEARCH PROJECT
Caribbean Economy and Slavery
Several West African Societies were well organized and quite prosperous before the coming of the Europeans. Since the time of the slave trade many theories point out that Africa is the cradle of civilization, it is the birth place of the human race. We should never believe the Eurocentric view that Africa was a dark continent inhabited by uncivilized savages pretending to be humans. False and negative views of Africa and Africans were used to justify the Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonization. However, in reality, the Ancient civilizations of Egypt, Ghana and Mali among others – some of which grew over 5000 years ago – made enormous discoveries in science, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and architecture long before they were known in Europe. Africans had crossed oceans by the time Europeans made their first journey to Africa and some of the European visitors to Africa recognized that societies were just as advanced or more so, than their own. In truth, contributions from Africans and the African continent to the shaping of the modern world are enormous and denied only because of the development of Eurocentric and racist views. Many Europeans thought that Africa's history was not important. They argued that Africans were inferior to Europeans and they used this to help justify slavery. However, the reality was very different. A study of African history shows that Africa was by no means inferior to Europe. Forms of slavery existed in Africa before Europeans arrived. 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, temporary slavery was a punishment for some crimes. * In some cases, enslaved people could work to buy their freedom. * Children of enslaved people did not automatically become slaves.
Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource -- a work force. In most cases the indigenous peoples had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were unsuited to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be "worked very hard" on plantations or in mines. For two hundred years, 1440-1640, Portugal had a monopoly on the export of slaves from Africa. It is notable that they were also the last European country to abolish the institution - although, like France, it still continued to work former slaves as contract laborers, which they called libertos. It is estimated that during the 4 1/2 centuries of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Portugal was responsible for transporting over 4.5 million Africans.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began around the mid-fifteenth century when Portuguese interests in Africa moved away from the fabled deposits of gold to a much more readily available commodity -- slaves. By the seventeenth century the trade was in full swing, reaching a peak towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was a trade which was especially fruitful, since every stage of the journey could be profitable for merchants -- the infamous triangular trade.
All three stages of the Triangular Trade (named for the rough shape it makes on a map) proved lucrative for merchants.
It is the first part of long trip along the Atlantic Ocean. This first voyage takes around 6 or 8 weeks. The slave traders load their ships with goods in order to buy their live cargoes (the African slaves).
The first stage of the Triangular Trade involved taking manufactured goods...
Bibliography: * Notes from Mrs Biggerstaff
* Claypole William, Caribbean Story, Carlong Publishers, 1980
* Gilmore John, Empires and Conquests, Carlong Publishers, 2003
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