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Conférences L'arbre à palabres africaines et internationales Discussion 93
Discussion 93
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24-août-03, 23h35  (Heure de: New Jersey)
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THE SHAMEFUL LEGACY OF AFRICA: Highest Propensity to Enslavement and Slavery Trades.


"........Caravans used to come all the way from northern Nigeria and other places, Burkina Faso, Mali and so on. Salaga became important for its market in human beings.

The slaves were brought in here. There were places to store them and most of the time they were actually tied around trees in the market.

......... But most of the time they were tied around, big, big trees, guava trees, close to the market.

..........Particularly, local chiefs benefitted the most. When the slaves were brought, the chiefs took a certain number for themselves and sold them to the buyers.

.........With hindsight, we feel remorse that these things happened and our great great grandfathers took part in the slave capture and slave trade. But at that time it was a normal thing.

....... Sometimes you look at it from a human and religious point of view, sometimes you feel it was a very bad thing.......but it happened."

"The role of African Chiefs and Ruling Classes in the SLAVE TRADE was not all different from the contemporary African elites. They both traded the resources of their people for self-gratification and self-enrichment."
---(T. Obadina, Africa Today).

- "The past is what makes the present COHERENT," said Afro-American writer James Baldwin, and the past "will remain HORRIBLE for exactly as long as Africains (descendants of those who captured and sold others to slavers) will refuse to:

- Acknowledge Africa's participation in 'Committing The Crime Against Humanity'.

- Assess Africa's willing and gainful participation (in both the Arab-Islamic and European Slave Trades) honestly.

- REPENT for their ANCESTOR'S profound and vile BACKWARDNESS"


In the history of human kind, the Africa continent has had the highest propensity to:

Capturing to enslave and/or sell their own human kind (principally, captives from different tribes/ethnic groups) to slave traders than any other continents.

- about 14 centuries (1400 years) of slave trade with Arab countries (Middle East).

- about 4.5 centuries (450 years) of slave trade with Europe. The European slave trade only began about 1000 years after the Arab-Islamic slave trade had already been ravaging the continent of Africa.

- And for about 50 more years of enslaving (dominant and oppressive tribes/ethnic groups enslaving Africans from different and weaker ones) other Africans well after the slavery activity was suppressed anywhere else in the world.

Bien entendu, slave activities are still openly happening in Soudan and Mauritania.

Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria had the highest propensity to slavery activities (enslaving and selling other Africans to slavery).

2. Cannibalism and human sacrifices than any other continents.

Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Congo (both Belgium Congo and French Congo had the greatest number of tribes that practiced and indulged in cannibalism and human

In the history of European slave trade in Africa, the largest number of slaves came from Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger.

Specifically, the chiefs of the "Cameroons" = Cameroon Coast (of today-mordern Cameroon), Nigeria, and Niger had the highest propensity to enslaving and selling other Africans to slavery by the time the Atlantic Slave Trade ended.

The majority of African slaves shipped to the Americas came from:

Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Dahomey, Gabon, the two Congos(ex Belgium and French), and Senegal.

As some parts of the coast saw the export of many more slaves than did others, the regions adjacent to these coast suffered much more severely than the overall figures for western Africa as a whole might suggest.

In the weak period of the 1780s, the distribution of exports along the coast was approximately as follows:

1. From the Senegambia and Sierra Leone - about 4,000 slaves a year (8 percent of the total from western Africa as a whole).

2. From Liberia and the Ivory Coast - about 4,000 (8 percent) again.

3. From the Gold Coast - about 10,000 (19 percent).

4. From the Slave Coast and the Benin region - about 12,500 (23 percent).

5. From the Niger Delta (including Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon) - about 22,000 ( 42 percent).

But the three last zones - lower Guinea - today have populations as dense as any to be found in tropical Africa, and the available evidence suggest that their population was also relatively great in the 18th century, and certainly by and large denser than that of most parts of Upper Guinea.

The largest number of slaves came from just those regions that could most afford to export population. It is also unlikely to be coincidence that it was this same area - from the Gold Coast to Cameroons - which
was the most highly developed coastal region in terms of government, economic production, and trade.

For the most part, the European traders bought the slaves they needed from African merchants and rulers who had organized to offer slaves for sale.

About half of these slaves were unfortunate in their own societies:
- Criminals.

- Mentally or physical handicapped.

- Debtors,those who had been sold for debt, or pledged as a security for a debt.

- Those who had offended men of power or influence.

- Or simply those who in some way had become outcasts from the family and tribal systems.

Selling such people was usually simply an alternative to:
- keeping them in some kind of servitude in domestic society.

- Or to serve as human sacrifices in the festivals of ancestral or land cults.

- In some extreme situations, condemning them to execution.



Salaga, in northern Ghana, was the site of a major slave market. Today, there are still descendants of people who were slaves. The history is vivid in peoples's minds.

"Ouamkam means bathing. Bayou means slave. So literally it means 'Bathing slaves.'

This is the place where all the slaves were bathed. They would bathe them here, rub them with shea butter and make them shine, and they gave them food to eat, to make them look big; then they'd take them to the slave market for sale."

"Salaga is in the southern part of the northern region. Salaga was an old slave market.

Caravans used to come all the way from northern Nigeria and other places, Burkina Faso, Mali and so on.

Salaga became important for its market in human beings.

The slaves were brought in here. There were places to store them and most of the time they were actually tied around trees…in the market. There were just one or two rooms that can even be seen up to this date.

But most of the time they were tied around, big, big trees, guava trees, close to the market.

Slavery became a commercial venture. Particularly, local chiefs benefitted the most. When the slaves were brought, the chiefs took a certain number for themselves and sold them to the buyers.

People benefitted as well. If you were not a victim, of course, then you benefitted. Sometimes, even the people themselves became victims. Because it was so inhuman that there was no sympathy between them.

If you quarrelled with your friend and you managed to capture him you could take him to the market - to sell him.

With hindsight, we feel remorse that these things happened and our great great grandfathers took part in the slave capture and slave trade. But at that time it was a normal thing.

It's just like what is happening today. It was a market; people were buying. There was no transaction in cash. It was just gunpowder or guns in exchange for human beings.

Sometimes you look at it from a human and religious point of view, sometimes you feel it was a very bad thing ....
...but it happened. "

Listen to Paramount Chief Of Salaga:
"Slaves were the most important commodity as opposed to other commodities like salt and other mercantile goods that were brought from the south.

But definitely slavery dominated the activities here.

Everybody here in Salaga is a descendant of a slave. Everybody in Salaga, except those of us who have moved in now. But you see people don't feel easy speaking about it. But everybody knows that he is a descendant of slaves.

The Gouruma, the Hausa, the Zaboroma, the Hausa, the Dagomba. All the tribes in Salaga, there are thirteen tribes in Salaga, know."

The Portuguese were particularly keen to explore Africa for wealth and material gain; at the same time they had started up colonies in the Americas, and needed labour to work on plantations there.

By 1510, the first slaves were dispatched across the Atlantic. Soon Britain, the Netherlands and France were competing with Spain and Portugal for a share of the profits of slavery.

The large scale of trading destabilised the social and economic order. By the end of the 18th century one historian estimates that no less than 50,000 people a year were captured and taken against their will to the Americas. What is now Angola was reduced in parts to a wasteland.

In total, at least 12 million Africans were forcibly removed from the continent during the Atlantic slave trade.

The Atlantic slave trade was shaped and driven by commercial forces of profit and new patterns of consumption. In the 15th century the African Chief or King’s goal was profit. Conditions for slaves were
very harsh.

No less than 12 (and more) million Africans came to the Americas as slaves.

Century.............................Number of Africans
16th century.......................600,000

17th century.......................2,000,000

18th century.......................5,000,000

19th century.......................3,000,000

The South represented the agricultural center of the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

A combination of rich soil and warm, sunny climate provided ideal conditions for the growth of crops such as cotton (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas), indigo (Georgia), sugar cane (Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana) and tobacco (North Carolina and Virginia).

The crop plantations required a tremendous amount of hard labor which made the South a natural destination for the influx of African slaves.

Early on in the slave trade, northern cities of Boston, Massachusetts and New York were prominent ports of entry. However, cities to the south soon became the popular ports of entry.

These cities included Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Not all Africans who reached the shores of America during colonial days were slaves. In fact, a select few who arrived were free Africans who had never been slaves.

In 1790, there were an estimated 59,000 free Africans in America, with 27,000 of them residing in the North and 32,000 of them in the South.

By 1860, that number grew to 488,000, with 44% residing in the North and 46% in the South. The remaining 10% were found in western and central states.

The largest communities of free Africans were found in the cities of:
- Baltimore (25,600),
- Philadelphia (22,000),
- New York (12,500),
- New Orleans (10,600)
- and Charleston (3,200).

Many of these free Africans established churches, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) which provided a spiritual haven for many who sought refuge during times of hardship.

- 1619 Twenty Africans arrive in Jamestown, Virginia aboard a Dutch ship.

- 1645 First African slave ship, the 'Rainbowe', sets sail.

- 1663 First major African revolt against slavery in Gloucester, Virginia.

- 1688 Quakers in Philadelphia make first protest against slavery.

- 1712 African revolt against slavery in New York.

- 1712 Pennsylvania passes law-preventing importation of slaves.

- 1739 Major African revolt in Stono, South Carolina.

- 1741 African revolt in New York City.

- 1775 African soldiers fight in battles of Bunker Hill, Concord and Lexington.

- 1777 Vermont becomes first state to abolish slavery.

- 1787 Northwest Ordinance prohibits slavery in the Northwest Territories.

- 1787 Constitution is approved, extending slavery for 20 years.

- 1800 Africans in Philadelphia petition Congress to end slavery.

- 1804 Ohio 'Black Laws' prevent movement of Africans.

- 1807 US prohibits importation of Africans for slavery.

- 1811 Africans revolt in Louisiana.

- 1822 Denmark Vesey leads African revolt in Charleston, South Carolina.

- 1831 Nat Turner leads African revolt in Southhampton County, Virginia.

- 1839 Nat Turner leads African revolt in Southhampton County, Virginia.

- 1841 Africans revolt aboard the ship 'Creole' and flee to Bahamas.

- 1849 Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland.

- 1857 Dred Scott court decision denies African rights by law.

- 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.

- 1865 Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox.

- 1865 Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox.

Slaves were shackled in a crouched position, two by two. They were placed in the belly of the ship, which had less than eighteen inches between ceiling and floor. Slaves received a pint of water a day.

In order to ensure good circulation, the Africans were forced to dance on the deck. Depending on the winds, the voyage took from 5 to 8 weeks. It is no wonder that, on average, one out of every five slaves died from disease on the over-crowded boats. Another one out of three died from the brutal treatment.

African slave trading didn't begin in America. In the century before Columbus "discovered" the New World, some West Africans had been selling one another to Arabic slave dealers from North Africa for about 1000 years earlier.

When Europeans came to the Americas in the 1490s, they used Caribe Indians and Native Americans as workers. Within a few years, however, the newly established colonies began buying slaves from Africa.

Slaves could be purchased in Africa for about $25 (about $ 15 in the Cameroons, Nigeria, and Niger) and sold in the Americas for about $150. Slave dealers found the business so lucrative that they often referred to Africans as "black gold."

Captains of slave ships crammed as many slaves as possible onto their vessels. By the eighteenth century, the slave trade was considered one of the world's largest and most profitable industries.


"Beyond any shadow of a doubt, Had England and Europe not decided to end the slave trade, It would still be rolling today. African Chiefs, Kings and Traders would have happily continued to capture and sell their fellow human beings for bottles of "COCA COLA" as long as there were demands for slaves.

As the profound backwardness of these Chiefs and kings had no boundary, how many souls would they have been eager to trade for a McDonald "Hamburger" ?

It Is a Frightening and Disturbing Thought."---(BAPTISTE).
- BAPTIST ! I could not have said any better -

Yes James Baldwin ! In capturing and selling the SONS and DAUGHTERS of Africa to Arab-Muslism and European slavers, Africa and its CHIEFS shamefully participated in "COMMITTING THE WORST CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY".

I concur that so long as Africa will not REPENT for its ANCESTOR'S profound and vile BACKWARDNESS, it will remain a cursed continent in PERPETUITY.


1. Ajayi, J. F. Ade and Smith, Robert S.:
Yoruba Warfare in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1964).

2. Austen, Ralph A.:
"The abolition of the overseas slave trade: a distorted theme in West African history," Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 5/2 (1970), 257-74.

3. Austen, Ralph A. and Smith, Woodruff S.:
"Images of Africa and British Slave-Trade Abolition: the transition to an imperialist ideology, 1787-1807," African Historical Studies, 2/1 (1969), 69-83.

4. Benezet, Anthony:
Some Historical Account of Guinea (2nd ed., London, 1788).

5. Cain, J. and Hopkins, A. G.:
British Imperialism: Innovation and Expansion 1688-1914 (London, 1993).

6. Dalzel, Archibald:
The History of Dahomey (London, 1793).

7. Dike, K. Onwuka:
Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta 1830-1885 (Oxford, 1956).

8. Eltis, David:
Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Oxford, 1987).

9. Hargreaves, Susan M.:
"The Political Economy of Nineteenth-Century Bonny" (Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, 1987).

10. Hogendorn, Jan S. and Johnson, Marion:
The Shell Money of the Slave Trade (Cambridge, 1986).

11. Hopkins, A. G.:
"Economic imperialism in West Africa: Lagos, 1880-92," Economic History Review, 21/3 (1968), 580-600.

12. Hopkins, A. G.:
An Economic History of West Africa (London, 1973).

13. Jennings, Lawrence C.:
"French policy towards trading with African and Brazilian slave merchants, 1840-1853," Journal of African History, 17/4 (1976), 515-28.

14. Klein, Martin A.:
"Social and economic factors in the Muslim Revolution in Senegambia," Journal of African History,13/2(1972),419-41.

15. Latham, A. J. H.:
Old Calabar 1600-1891 (Oxford, 1973).

16. Law, Robin:
The Oyo Empire c.1600-c.1836 (Oxford, 1977a).

17. Law, Robin:
"Royal monopoly and private enterprise in the Atlantic trade: the case of Dahomey," Journal of African History, 18/4 (1977b), 555-77.

18. Law, Robin:
"Human sacrifice in pre-colonial West Africa," African Affairs, 84 (1985), 53-87.

19. Law, Robin:
"The historiography of the commercial transition in nineteenth-century West Africa," in Toyin Falola (ed.), African Historiography: Essays in honor of Jacob Ade Ajayi (London, 1993), 91-115.

20. Lovejoy, Paul:
Transformations in Slavery: A history of slavery in Africa (Cambridge, 1983).

21. "The impact of the Atlantic slave trade on Africa: a review of the literature," Journal of African History, 30/3 (1989), 365-94.

22. Manning, Patrick:
"Slave trade, "legitimate" trade and imperialism revisited: the control of wealth in the Bights of Benin and Biafra," in Paul E. Lovejoy (ed.), Africans in Bondage: Studies in slavery and the slave trade in honor of Philip D. Curtin (African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1986), 203-33.

23. Meillassoux, Claude:
The Anthropology of Slavery (Chicago, 1991).

24. Miers, Suzanne:
Britain and the Ending of the Slave Trade (London, 1975).

25. Northrup, David:
"The compatibility of the slave and palm oil trades in the Bight of Biafra," Journal of African History, 17/3 (1976), 353-64.

26. Reid, John:
"Warrior Aristocrats in Crisis: The political effects of the transition from the slave trade to palm oil commerce in the nineteenth-century Kingdom of Dahomey" (Ph.D. thesis, University of Stirling, 1986).

27. Ross, David:
"The career of Domingo Martinez in the Bight of Benin 1833-64," Journal of African History, 6/1 (1965), 79-90.

28. Smith, Robert S.:
The Lagos Consulate, 1851-1861 (London, 1978).

29. Temperley, Howard:
White Dreams, Black Africa: The Antislavery Expedition to the Niger,
1841 -1842 (London, 1991).

30. Wilks, Ivor:
Asante in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1975).

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