Aladeloba Babatunde

Jan 11, 2016

4 min read

The African Story of Slave Trade

…… Seeing Africa from an African Perspective.

Africans were not born slave, Africans were free submitting only to their individual wills and opinionated dictates of ancestral gods and traditions through the voice of sorcerers or kings. It is almost impossible to write the African story without the transatlantic slave trade.

In October 1526, the King of Congo wrote to King of Portugal, JoaIII, an excerpt from the letter quoted” they seized members of our freed, subjects, nobles, sons of nobles and even members of our family” the King of Portugal it was not documented in any manuscript or annals if he ever replied the letter. Slavery has always been in existence from the early days, the children of Israel experienced hardship against their will from Egyptian task masters. The hardships, torture and torment experienced by African slaves have always been described as barbaric by writings of ancient study. African slaves had no will, their voices were muffled and their cries were never heard. In four hundred years of slavery, over Twelve million Africans were shipped over the Atlantic against their will, forced into America, Europe and parts of Oceania.

Slavery can broadly be described as the ownership, buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of forced and unpaid labour. The religious texts of Judaism, Islam and Christianity all recognize slavery, but none has been has historical as the African slave trade. Egyptians employed Ethiopians, Europeans and Jews as slaves. Romans captured slaves from present day Germany and France. African kings and top hierarchical government officials traditionally kept slaves but for domestic purpose. They were an indication of wealth and power, not for commercial gains until the Europeans emerged desperate to use slaves in America, then the face of African slavery changed.

Prior to slaves being taken off the shores of Africa, they were taken to slave markets, where they are bathed, had Shea butter rubbed on their skin and fed to appear presentable before merchants. The first European to buy a slave was “Antao Goncalves on the coasts of Guinea, he was a Portuguese explorer in 1441 AD. The Spanish were the first to use enslaved Africans in the New World on Cuba and Hispaniola Islands. Atlantic slave trade peaked in the late 18th century, when the largest number of slaves were captured from west Africa. This gave prominence to lots of West African empires. African slaves got on ships started a journey of no return to American plantations, the Caribbeans and other parts of Europe. Most of the slaves were already tired and sickly or affected by the cold of the high sea before reaching their destinations. Their slave owners cared less about the welfare or health of slaves but more importantly the gains from forced labour. The corpse of slaves who died on the way to Europe were thrown into the sea. The bizarre treatment in the ship, staying uplate, intentional murder of an African slave for being black and then labelled a” Negro was a precursor of sufferings to come. Slaves were sold at a market place, some were sold about three times to different owners. The whites saw and treated African slaves as lesser humans or even animals. The African slave experienced Slave inventory, where slaves were numbered and stored for merchants. They sat and stood during harsh weather conditions till most of them died. Slaves were denied good food, most of their foods was of low nutritional contents. When a slave didn't complete his daily obligation, he underwent very torturing punishments, being tied to a tree and being whipped till their bodies were red, some where denied food for days and a few were shot dead without any authority questioning the slave owners’ decision.

African slaves that were not on plantation were used to develop offspring, domestic chores or tending to offspring from slaves procreation. Female slaves were sometimes forced into sexual affairs with their Masters. The male slaves were handpicked to sleep with female slaves make to make offspring, these offspring are raised by neither of the copulating slaves but by domestic slaves. Such male or female slaves are sold again or taken to another plantation. This tells the pain of separation experienced by the African slave. African slaves were the most important commodity as to other mercantile goods, they were seen as being strong, durable for rigorous and unscrupulous plantation, mining or construction works. Children of slaves were restricted from availing themselves as friends to white children of slave masters. This led to colour inferior and racial segregation. Slave masters and their family didn’t see the idea of crying over the death of a slave or showing empathy at a sick slave, it appeared to them as weeping over a calf slaughtered by the butcher.

African Slavery degenerated and stereotyped Africans a lot until the Abolitionists emerged and the Slave trade resistance era. The African Slave trade was bad, it started from betrayal by our own traditional leaders and kinsmen who sold us for commercial gains. The Americans and other slave masters don’t see us as Africans but as Blacks who doesn’t deserve more than a lower mammal. Every man of colour you see across the Atlantic is a descendant of slave, their ancestors were on the ship to America, even when they don’t talk about it, they know their lineage is not far fetched from slavery. It’s the story of Afro-American men and women who don’t know their roots, but only read that their ancestors got on board to work on transatlantic plantations. African slave trade is a tragic folktale that completes the African story.

Aladeloba Babatunde

Freelance Writer | Teenage Life Coach | Christ Lover

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.