The Effects of Slavery In Africa
AFSA01H3F- Ibrahim Hamza/ Bello Taiwo
Tuesday, October, 2018
Approximately around 15th century, Europeans arrived on West African Coasts and Africans were to be exploited for their labour and commodities for another 400 years. Before the effects of the Transatlantic slave trade, Africa was striving economically and were involved in international trade in Egypt and West Africa. It wasn’t until colonization, that Africa began suffering immensely and falling apart economically due to the Europeans exploitative infrastructure that would forever leave contemporary damage to the economy. In this essay I will argue that slavery in Africa was detrimental to the continent and is the reason to blame for it’s contemporary effects economically, the diminishment of the countries reputation due to lies and misconception of the origin of disease and is responsible for many violent break outs between African societies.
One of the many effects slavery had on Africa, was the involvement of the undertaking of the continent. It has been estimated that over one hundred million of Africans were taken and imported to America and European countries. The large amount of people that were taken, negatively effected Africa because of the unbalance, and was only the beginning to the wavering of Africa’s economy. The extracted millions from Africa, altered the economy slowly through depopulation because of the Europeans Slave production. The lower the population density got, the more Africans were viewed as beings equipped for labour. In the midst of the slave trade, the African government was oblivious to the consequences of their population, and the severe effects it would have for African Societies. Loss of population in Africa, made areas more vulnerable and susceptible to being conquered by European raiders. How easy it became to infiltrate areas, benefitted the Europeans greatly as more Africans were captured and imported for commerce. Slavery prevented the remaining population from engaging in agriculture and being seen as a competitor in the international trade to European countries. About two thirds of Africans taken were men which led West Africans sexual demography to become unbalanced. Ultimately, depopulation was the first hit at the downfall of Africa’s economy as the population is important in any country in order to strive and survive.
In relation to Europeans destroying Africa’s economy through depopulation, they are also to blame for destroying Africa’s reputation with a common misconception that Africa is the origin for serious infectious disease’s. During colonialism, Europeans carried over the majority of diseases including smallpox, influenza, typhoid, measles, malaria, bubonic plague, yellow fever, mumps, and dysentery. It was in this time that many Africans went through a sudden increase in famine and disease. The beginning of the slave trade created new patterns of settlement, and more people began living in previously inhabited areas that was a breeding ground for flies in East and central Africa. As consequence, an estimated 200,000 people died of sickness and the disease later spread in the Congo, and Zambia which had harsh consequences for local populations. More contact with the European slave traders led to the introduction of small pox, yellow fever, meningitis, and cholera. Not only did this contribute to the depopulation in Africa, and detrimental effects to the economy, but this would be the beginning to the onset of lies and misconception that whirls around internationally about the safety and cleanliness in Africa. Africa is perceived to be a country that holds many unborn and born disease’s when in reality it was the Europeans that carried them over to the continent. Africa’s reputation for being the continent of origin to these infectious disease’s have altered the continents reputation to the rest of the world as well as it faltering the economy factoring in on lack of tourist attraction. Government ministers in South Africa have said that they, ”blame racial prejudice for the diminished economic activity in their countries and said the wrongs could only be rectified by clear acknowledgements of the past by the oppressing countries, and by creating schemes for compensation”. Western scientists have been working to establish a link between Africa and HIV, and as a result of slavery and initial European contact, more people now see Africa as a disease ridden continent, which effects the economy and their reputation.
In addition to the many negative effects slavery had on Africa, it also played a hand in the increase and amount of war in West Africa. Apart from European exploiting Africa’s labourers for commerce, the African rulers also benefited from the trade as they exchanged captives for guns. Apart from guns, Europeans brought other commodities to Africa including cloth, Iron bars, and cowries in exchange for people. The introduction of the fire arms was seen as the most significant item to West Africa. Rulers and warlords were eager to trade with Europeans in order to obtain the firearms. Because of their eagerness for the guns, this created tension within West Africa as rulers were in competition with one another which caused rivalry. This was bad for the economy as it caused an increase in drive to capture and sell off slaves and played a significant role in the downfall of Africa. The rapid and mass importation of guns in exchange for slaves caused an imbalance of power between kingdoms. This caused many internal conflicts within West Africa and many wars broke out from neighbours because of the demand of guns. It was also because of the accessibility to guns that the temptation to go to war increased which resulted in more wars and raids. Slavery is to blame for the outbreaks of war within West Africa between kingdoms, as they introduced fire arms in exchange for slaves.
To conclude, the effects of the transatlantic slave trade have been enormously detrimental to Africa and the contemporary problems in Africa are to blame because of the aftermath of slavery. Colonialism played a great role in the downfall of Africa’s economy through the extraction of the population through kidnapping and the introduction to famine and disease’s. The effects on Africa’s reputation since the 15th century, have been harmful as misinformation has been spreading internationally about the continent. The introduction of guns, created internal conflict between neighbouring kingdoms, and in result there were more war breakouts. Consequently, all the problems that are prevalent in Africa are because of the negative effects of slavery.
Poverty, Underdevelopment Caused by Slavery and Colonisation. Accessed October 17, 2018. http://www.panapress.com/Poverty,-underdevelopment-caused-by-slavery-and-colonisation–12-550848-34-lang2-index.html.Bennett, Christopher Kweku. “How the Slave Trade Stifled Africa’s Economy.” Ghana Business News. August 19, 2016. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2008/12/06/how-the-slave-trade-stifled-africas-economy/.
“Colonial Masters Brought Infectitious Diseases to Africa.” Www.newvision.co.ug. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1239715/colonial-masters-brought-infectitious-diseases-africa.
Gilbert, Erik, and Jonathan T. Reynolds. Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Boston: Pearson, 2012.
“Higher History – Implications of the Slave Trade for African Societies – Revision 5.” BBC Bitesize. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zxt3gk7/revision/5.
“Home.” African Economic History Network. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.aehnetwork.org/the-trans-atlantic-slave-trade-and-local-political-fragmentation-in-africa/.
M’baye, Barbara. “The Economic, Political, and Social Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa.” 2006.
Soman, Ebey. “Impact and Consequences of Slavery and Colonialism in Africa.” HubPages. April 20, 2016. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://hubpages.com/politics/Impact-and-Consequences-of-Slavery-and-Colonialism-in-Africa.