History Form 2 Topic 3:African And The External World

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African And The External World

African And The External World

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African And The External World

Early Contacts with the Middle East and Far East

Contacts with the Middle East and Far East began as early as 200BC. Early foreigners to visit the African coast were people from Asia including countries like Syria, Arabia, India, Burma, Thailand, China, Spice Islands and Egypt from North Africa. Availability of goods such as ivory, gold, animal skins and slaves was one of the motives which attracted the traders to visit the East African Coast.

Historically, contacts between East Africa and Middle and Far East go as far back as 200 BC. Evidence is shown through archeological excavations. These have revealed remains of pottery, porcelain, cons, beads and tombs along the East Africa Coast which are believed to originate from Middle and Far East. Another piece of evidence from the book “Periplus of the Ertythrean Sea” or a Guide Book to the Indian Ocean, written in the 1st CAD by early Greek Trades, contain details about life at the East African Coast.

Regular trading contacts began around 8th CAD. Most of the traders came from China, Indonesia, (East Indies) and India. Later in the 10th C, traders also came from Arabia, Persia (Iran), Syria and Egypt. Their commercial activities covered the whole of the Eastern Coast of Africa between Mogadishu and Sofala.

African And The External World

The Social and Economic Motives of Contact between Africa, Middle East and Far East

Motive of the contact

  • Availability of goods such as ivory, gold, animal skins and slaves which had attracted the traders.
  • The discovery of the power of wind and its patterns i.e. the Monsoon which helped to drive their vessels across the Indian Ocean to East Africa (South West Monsoon, November, to April) and back to their home lands (North East Monsoon, May to October).
  • Development of marine vessels technology.They could contract large dhows which enabled them to carry huge quality of goods.
  • Acceptance by the local people along the coast.They expected to benefit in the trading relationship.
  • Constant warfare in the Middle East especially Persia made Arabs flee to East Africa their survival depended on trade.

The Major Commodities which were Exchanged during the Contact between Africa, Middle East and Far East

Commodities (export) from Eastern Africa

GOLD form Mwanamutapa Empire was brought to the coast at Sofala. The gold traders (foreigners) had to pay tax to the rulers of Kilwa.

  • Ivory – Was brought to the coast at may points
  • Slaves – Were brought to the coast at many points
  • Copper – Was brought to the coast from Katanga
  • Cum Copal – Was found on the coastal area opposite
  • Other Goods – Rhinoceros horns, tortoise shells, beeswax

Imports to East Africa

  • From India-Cotton clothes, beads and iron implements
  • From Maldives Islands-Cowries shells which were used as money and also as ornaments
  • From China -Silk clothes, porcelain
  • From Arab and Persia -Swords, daggers (weapons), glassware and Persian rugs.
  • From East Indies (Malaysia or Spice Islands) – Spices
  • From Burma and Thailand – Stone ware i.e. pots and jars

Means of transport

The foreigners traveled in dhows which were driven with the help of Monsoon winds. The North East Monsoons (Winter Monsoons) blew between the months of November and April and brought the traders to Eastern Africa, South East Monsoons (Summer Monsoons) which blew between the month of May and October took them back to their homes.

The Social and Economic Effects of the Contacts between the People of Africa, The Middle and Far East

The rise of Coastal City states

By the 13th C, trade along the Coast of East Africa was strengthened and gave rise to city states. Many Arabs settled in the area for commercial purposes. The settlements grew into towns/cities: Kilwa, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Pemba, Malindi, Mogadishu, Lamu, Sofala, Pate and Kismayu.

Intermarriage

The Arabs, mainly intermarried with Africans within their Coastal settlements.The outcome of this racial mingling was the emergence of the Swahili people

The Growth/Emergence of the Kiswahili Language

This resulted from the mixture of Bantu and Arabic words

Introduction of New Arts and Crafts

Buildings along the Coast eg. Houses, palaces, mosques were built in Arabic and Persian styles (using stones)

Introduction of Islam

The Arab traders brought their religion with them.Therefore several coastal Africans were converted to the Islam faith.The Africans copied Arabic styles of dressing, men dressed in kanzu and women in baibui.

The Coastal Towns (Cosatal City States) 1000 AD-1500 AD

The coming of the Asian traders to East Africa especially Arabs led to the development of Coastal towns such as Mogadishu, Merka, Brava, Kismayu, Lamu, Pate, Malindi, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia, Kilwa and Sofala.

Political control

There was never a single united empire on the coast, no ‘Zenji Empire’ as sometimes believed.Each town retained its own rulers though many were dominated at different times by the most powerful settlements. Many had ruling families descending from Persia or Arabian rulers.

The Leading Coastal Towns

Mogadishu

  • It was the first to gain wealth and importance due to its position in the North, This enabled it to control the sea route to the South and to dominate the trade from the rest of East Africa.
  • It is said to have been founded in the 11th Century by a group of people from Persian Gulf.
  • It became an important Islamic centre.
  • It gradually declined as towns such as Kilwa and Mombasa gained importance.

Kilwa

  • For many centuries it became important because it controlled most of the trade along the coast.
  • Its greatness reached the highest peak in the 13th Century when it gained control over gold trade from Sofala. it built huge beautiful stone buildings eg. The Husuni Kubwa Palace and Friday Mosque.
  • It also became an important Islamic Centre. Kilwa was the first coastal state to mint its own coins. It declined at about 1490 A.D.

Zanzibar

  • It is believed to be the first coastal stop in East African coast to be settled by foreigners.
  • It was free from Kilwa and had Arab rulers who were able to establish strong control over the people.
  • Having powerful rulers, it became an important trading centre and in the 15th Century it began to mint its own coins.

Mombasa

  • Mombasa was an export centre for Ivory and slaves before 15th Century.
  • Its importance and wealth was a result of its trade with India
  • The rulers were Swahili and the African element in its culture was strong.

Malindi

  • It was an important market centre for exporting iron which came from mainland Kenya.
  • It accepted Islam religion and the rule of Sultans. The people copied new ways of Government administration from Arabs.

THE DECLINE OF THE COASTAL CITY STATES

Trade between East Africa, Middle and Far East was disturbed by Portuguese invasion along the coast in the 16th Century and 17th Century. The Portuguese attempted of capture and control the Indian Ocean trade and this led to wars.The Portuguese invasion on the East African coast caused four major changes in the pattern of trade:

  • There was diversion of the major trade routes especially in connection to with copper and gold. These items were now shipped overseas from Sofala southwards and through the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Conflict developed between African gold miners and Portuguese traders. The Portuguese sought control of gold production and this was resisted by African miners and there was a decline in the output of gold.
  • Portuguese imposed trading licenses and permits on African and Arab traders. This led to further decline of trade between East Africa and Asia.
  • Coastal City states such as Kilwa began to decline because their prosperity depended on gold trade. This meant the African and Arab traders who acted as middlemen also lost business.

Contacts with Europe (The Portuguese, Dutch Settlement at the Cape)

The Social and Economic Motives of Contact between Africa and Portugal

The Portuguese

The contact between Africans and Portuguese dates back as far as 15th Century:

  • The Portuguese led by Vasco da Gama reached the East coast in 1498.They were the first Western Europeans to enter the Coast from the South.
  • The Portuguese managed to reach this region in their attempt to explore a sea route to India around the continent of Africa.
  • Their search for a sea route was supported by Prince Henry the navigator, the son of King John of Portugal.

The Commodities which were Exchanged during the Contact

Commodities which were exchanged during the contact

  • The important commodities involved during the contact included, copper, gold, silver, spices and ivory from Africa and invaluable goods from Europe such as wines alcohol, mirrors, glassware etc.

The Social and Economic Impact of the Portuguese in Africa

Economic Motives

  • Need to exploit valuable resources believed to exist in Africa such as gold, silver and ivory.
  • To create a Portuguese empire in the African coasts.
  • To secure the sources of gold that existed in Africa. Several regions of Africa such as Akan in West were the main sources of gold.
  • To find a sea route to India and Far East (famous for Spices) and this was in response the closure of the land routes to Asia by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
  • Need to monopolise Indian Ocean trade which for a long period was dominated by Arabs, Chinese, Indonesians and Indians merchants. The trade was profitable.
  • Need to control strategic points: East Africa provided bases for military troops in the mission of the Portuguese of controlling the East.

Social Motives

  • Religious: Portuguese wanted to spread Christianity in Africa and prevent further spread of Islam in Africa.
  • Personal initiative of the King of Portugal Prince Henry the Navigator who sponsored and encouraged the Pioneer Voyages.
  • Exploration: At the end of 13th Century Western Europe had experienced the period of learning new knowledge and discoveries.This made people start to explore unknown land and sailing unmapped areas.

The Reasons for the Fall of the Portuguese Rule in East Africa and its Impact

The reasons for the fall of the Portuguese rule in East Africa

  • Resistances: The mounting resistance from the coast by feudal lords and traders who wanted to protect their political and economic interests.
  • Attacks from the interior tribes such as the Zimba and the Segeju from the Zambezi Regions.
  • The rivalries from the Dutch and the English merchants who had interests in Eastern trade.This brought about competition.These rivalries reduced Portugal’s power in the East African Coast.
  • Portuguese weakness: Portugal was a small country without enough qualified and competent personnel to administer overseas business.
  • Tropical disease: The Portuguese suffered from tropical diseases and harsh climatic conditions.This made the area become unfavorable for the Portuguese settlements.
  • The Portuguese rule over East Africa ended in 1698 when Portuguese witnessed the fall of Fort Jesus in Mombasa which was their headquarters and one of the strongest Portuguese garrisons.

Impact of the Portuguese in Africa

Social Impact

  • The introduction of new crops in Africa such as maize and cassava which became staple food for many people in Africa.
  • Introduction of Portuguese words in Kiswahili language, such as meza, leso, gereza, mvinyo etc.
  • Decline of Coastal City states example Mombasa, Kilwa, Gedi which were once very rich and prominent.
  • Insecurity and loss of properties, due to the frequent conquest resistances and wars.
  • Spread of Christianity into parts of Africa.

Economic Impact

  • The decline of Indian Ocean trade because of diversion of major trade routes through the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The exposure of Africa to international trade. Africa became known to Europe and America due to explorations made by the Portuguese.
  • The decline of gold production in Mwenemutapa (Zimbabwe) after development of the conflict between Africa miners and the Portuguese.
  • Building of forts such as Fort Jesus in Mombasa attracts tourists in Kenya and generates income for the country.

Dutch Settlement at the Cape

The Motives of the Dutch Settlement at the Cape

Southern Africa became the site of the earliest European settlement in the modern African history in 1652, when employees of the Dutch East Indian Company established a supply base on the shore of Table Bay, the site of the modern city of Cape Town.

Over the next 150 years, Dutch settlers on the land surrounding Table Bay and to the east along the coast, creating Cape colony.

As the Dutch settlements expanded, they encountered both indigenous Stone Age Khoisan and Iron Age Bantu African peoples. The earliest encounters were with Khoisan who were decimated, enslaved or forced to flee.

As subsequent generations of Europeans expanded further to the east, they encountered Bantu (mostly Xhosa) to became trading partners as well as armed opponents.

The Dutch settlers, called Boers (from the Dutch word for farmer) created very large farms and found it necessary to import labour, so Cape colony imported slaves while much of the rest of Africa exported them.

In their determination to reach the center of trade in India and the Far East, European merchants succeeded to around the southern tip of Africa in the 5th century.

In 1486 Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias and his crew were the first Europeans to sail around the southern point of the continent of Africa. He named it: The Cape of Good Hope (“Cabo de Boa Esperanca”). Because it was hoped that it would clear the way to India, which would simplify trade with the East.

Nine years were to pass before Vasco da Gama, another Portuguese seafarer, also attempted a voyage around the southern point of Africa on his way to India. Once again the seafarers met up with Khoi people and some of Vasco da Gama’s crew were hurt in a skirmish with them.

The Khoi were prepared to trade with the seafarers but, because of communication problems and misunderstandings, there were many problems and disagreements between the two groups. Vasco Da Gama reached southern Africa cape in around 1498

Sailors from Europe to the Far East and from the Far East to Europe used the following as a convenient stopping place for:

  • Refueling their ships
  • Getting fresh water

The climate at the cape was good and conducive for European settlement so the Whites started to establish their settlement there, the first White to make permanent settlement in the cape came from Holland in 1652.

The coming of Whites in South Africa is related to the economic development in Europe in the 16th and 17th century. This was a period of merchant capital i.e. mercantilism in Europe, trading transaction within and outside Europe were important in the development of European economies.

By 1652 the Dutch East Indian Company established the fort at Table Bay with the aim of supplying fresh produce to ship sailing to and from the East Indies. Gradually the settlers in the Cape Province started to spread further into the interior as they increased production of fresh fruits and other food stuff.

Having settled in the Cape land the White settlers became involved in barter trade with the indigenous inhabitants who by then were Khoi and San. Settlers used metal, beads, tobacco spirit to obtain cattle from the Khoi.

Besides the barter trade the White settlers also raided the Khoi herds, robbing bands of white stock farmer entered Khoi and Xhosa areas and shot people and returned to their settlements. They grabbed Khoi and Xhosa by force for agricultural land because they needed land to feed their animals after raiding them from Africans.

Motives of the Dutch settlement at the Cape

  • The need to control Indian Ocean trade which was dominated by the Portuguese
  • The need to establish farms
  • Favourable climatic conditions
  • Availability of raw materials for trade

The Impact of Dutch Settlements at the Cape

The impact of the Dutch settlement at the Cape

  • Enslavement of Africans: The Dutch East India Company provided slaves from West Africa and West India to provide labour for their plantations and livestock. Boers had established large plantations where they kept animals and grew crops like potatoes, watermelon, pumpkins, pineapple and cucumbers.
  • Displacement of African people: Africans were forced to move from their normal productive areas to unproductive areas. Hence the Dutch displaced the native Africans from the fertile areas and took their livestock by force.
  • Social segregation: The Dutch thought themselves superior to Africans, they exploited and mistreated Africans as they were regarded as stupid,uncivilised and faithless thus, laying the foundation of racial segregation.
  • Expansion of Europeans settlement: Dutch activities led other Europeans like British and French to come to South Africa. However, the Dutch population grew dramatically, for example in 1652 Van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape with a few people, by 1662 the Dutch community had grown to 120 people and in 1685 the population increased to 150 Dutch families.
  • The increase of warfare: There were frequent wars between the Africans and the Dutch because the Dutch wanted to rule the Africans and take their land while the Africans demanded freedom. 1779 to 1781, 1789 to 1793 and 1799 to 1803 there were Kaffir wars between the Dutch and the Xhosa.
  • Introduction of a new culture: The Dutch introduced a new culture to the Africans and ignored the indigenous culture. For example the new language known as Afrikaans based on the Dutch language and some words from other languages like Portuguese and Khoikhoi languages was born.

Test Yourself

Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean Sea-Board and Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Slave trade in east Africa

Slave trade refers to the selling and buying of human beings as commodities. Africa experienced two types of slave trade.

  1. The Indian Ocean slave trade which was conducted by Asians.
  2. The Trans Atlantic Ocean slave trade conducted by European merchants.

Main peoples involved:

  • Arab traders
  • European merchants
  • African chiefs e.g. Mirambo and Nyungu ya Mawe
  • The Nyamwezi
  • The Kamba
  • The Yao
  • Baganda
  • Banyoro
  • Khartoumers

The Reasons for the Expansion of Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean Sea-Board from the 18th Century

Expansion of the Indian Ocean slave trade

Slavery was practiced since ancient times in Africa. In East Africa slavery was introduced during trade contacts with the Middle East and Far East as early as 2 AD. However slavery was only practiced on a small scale. Slaves were used as farm laborers, domestic servants, guards or soldiers but they were also entitled to some rights. Furthermore slave trade expanded in East Africa during the 18th century.

Reasons for the expansion of slave trade in East Africa during the 18th century

  • Great demands for slaves as soldiers and domestic servants in the Muslim nations of Arabia. Thus the slaves had to come from non Muslim regions like the interior of East Africa. There were major slave markets in Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, Pemba, Kilwa,Mikindani and Mombasa.
  • Slaves were needed as porters, they ferried goods such as ivory and gold from theinterior of Africa to the coast, especially to the American, Indian and British traders whotook part in it.
  • Portuguese slave traders supplied slaves to the Portuguese coffee and sugar plantations in Brazil. In the first half of 18th century Portuguese expanded their plantations. So their source of slaves in West Africa and Mozambique became inadequate hence they came in East Africa.
  • High demand for slave labour in French sugar plantations in Mauritius and Reunion Island. Initially the French depended slaves fro Mozambique but by the 1770s the demand exceeded supply as a result the French came further North to East Africa in search of slaves.

Test Yourself

The Techniques Used to obtain Slaves

Ways/techniques of obtaining slaves

  • Caravans organised by local chiefs: The local chief sold domestic slaves in exchange for goods like beads, guns and glass. E.g. Mirambo and Isike of Nyamwezi, Nyungu yaMawe of the Kimbu, Machemba of the Yao, Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda and Mkwawa ofthe Hehe.
  • Selling of criminals, debtors, tax offenders and social misfits in society by the local chiefs to the Arab slave traders.
  • Prisoners of war could be sold off especially after inter-community wars.
  • Porters were sometimes kidnapped, transported and sold off to the Arab traders
  • Raiding villages or weak communities: This would begin at night with gun shots and people would scatter consequently leading to their capture.
  • Through inter tribe wars many African became destitute and these would be captured by the slave traders
  • Ambush, they were captured through ambushes during hunting, travelling and gardening.
  • Slaves were acquired from the main slave trade market in Zanzibar
  • Other Africans are also said to have gone voluntarily in anticipation of great wonders and benefits from the Arab Swahili traders

MAP OF EAST AFRICA SHOWING TRADE ROUTES

African And The External World

The Social and Economic Effects of Slave Trade on the African Societies

Social and economic effects/impact of slave trade on the people of East Africa

Positive effects

Introduction of new foods, the food introduced through trade routes such foods were maize, pawpaw, rice and groundnuts both at the coast and in the interior.

The increase of farming plantations, in some areas especially the clove plantations were slaves worked.

The interior was opened to the outside world this later encouraged the coming of the European missionaries. Many European Christian missionaries came to east Africa to preach against slave trade and to campaign for its abolition.

The trade routes became permanent routes and inland roads which led to growth of communication network.

Introduction of Swahili language, this was introduced in land and is now being widely spoken in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and eastern Congo.

Introduction of Islamic religion, Islam as a religion was introduced by the Arabs and it spread, especially in Yao land and in Buganda land.

Formation of the new race called Swahili; this race was formed through intermarriages between Arabs and some Africans.

Growth of towns, there was growth of towns such as Tabora and Ujiji.

Slave trade encouraged large scale trade whereby contact was established between the trade masters and indigenous/local population.

Africans were dispersed to other parts of the world e.g. Arabia, America and West Indies. In Africa Sierra Leone and Liberia were founded to accommodate former slaves from Europe and America.

Negative effects

Depopulation of Africans: The people who would have great leaders and empire builders were killed. It is estimated that over 15 to 30 millions of people were sold into slavery while millions died in the process being transported.

Misery, suffering and a lower quality of life for the people in East Africa. This is because they were reduced to commodities and could be bought and sold.

Destruction of villages and families and broken up by slave raiders and never to be reunited, this later resulted in to loss of identity.

Diseases broke out among the slaves, for example the Spaniards introduced syphilis which spread to other traders.

Displacement of people: Many people became homeless and destitute and stayed in Europe with no identity.

Disruption of economic activities: This is because the young and able craftsmen, traders and farmers were carried off, causing economic stagnation as the economic workforce depleted.

Progress slowed down which resulted in famine, poverty and destitution and helplessness.

There was a decline in production of traditional goods such as coffee, beans, bark cloth and iron which greatly hindered the cash economy.

Decline of African industries, which also faced a lot of competition from imported manufactured goods for example the bark cloth and iron working industries.

Introduced of guns to the interior, which caused a lot of insecurity and increased incidences of wars for territorial expansion

Clans and tribe units, languages were broken and inter tribal peace was disturbed for example Swahili language replaced the traditional languages in the interior.

The Psychological Effects of Slavery on its Victims

Slavery reduced Africans to more objects. The Arab slave traders and Caucasian slave owners looked down upon dark-skinned people. They considered them to be inferior and closer to animals than other races. Slaves were greatly mistreated. They worked for long hours under harsh conditions for no pay. They were punished severely for small mistakes and were even killed at their masters will. All of these resulted in psychological effects some of them being:

  • Damage of slave’s self worth
  • Inferiority complex before their masters
  • Sufferings due to difficult work
  • Separation of families and homes
  • Loneliness
  • Stress due to unsure about their future, survival and food.Traumatize due to severe punishment
  • Insecurity
  • Fear and doubts

Triangular slave trade

The Atlantic slave trade is customarily divided into two eras, known as first and second Atlantic system.

The first Atlantic system

The first Atlantic system was the trade of enslaved Africans primarily to South American colonies of the Portuguese and Spanish empires; it accounted for only slightly more than 3% for all Atlantic slave trade.

It started (on a significant scale) in about 1502 and lasted until 1580, when Portugal was temporarily united with Spain.

While the Portuguese traders enslaved people themselves, the Spanish empire relied on the Asiento system, awarding merchants (mostly from other countries) the license to trade enslaved people to their colonies.

During the first Atlantic system most of these traders were Portuguese, giving them a near monopoly during the era, although some Dutch, English Spanish and French traders also participated in the slave trade after the union, Portugal was weakened with its colonial empire being attacked by the Dutch and British.

The second Atlantic system

The second Atlantic system was the trade of enslave Africans by mostly British, Portuguese, Brazilian, French and Dutch traders.

The main destinations of this phase were the Caribbean colonies, Brazil and Americas a number of European countries built up economically slave dependent colonies in the New World. Amongst the proponents of this system were Francis Drake and John Hawkins

Origin of Trans Atlantic slave trade

Te Portuguese were the first foreigners to capture slaves off the coast of West Africa. They built a fort on Arguin Island (Mauritania) where they bought gold and slaves from Gambia and Senegal. Most of these slaves were taken to plantations in Portugal and Southern Spain.

By 1471 the Portuguese expanded their gold and slave trading activities to Ghana. In 1482, they built Elmina castle to serve as their base there.

Factors for the rise of triangular slave trade

The rise of capitalism: This mode of production depended on exploitation of one man by another. Capitalism emerged in Europe after the decline of feudalism in Europe especially the first stage of capitalism mercantilism where slaves became part of the commodities to be traded to accumulate wealth.

Discovery of marine technology: The invention of gun powder, ship building, compass direction, and motor engine acted as a pushing force for the rise of slave trade, it facilitated the transportation of the commodities and slave dealers.

The discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus on 24 October 1492 opened a new chapter as far as slave trade was concerned it brought high sky demand of cheap labour to work in the new plantations in the Caribbean islands.

The inability of indigenous people to provide cheap labour: Diseases such as smallpox eliminated the natives completely. In other cases such as south in south Carolina, Virginia and new England the need for alliances with native tribe coupled with the availability of enslaved Africans at affordable prices (beginning in the early 18th century for these colonies) resulted in a shift away from native American slavery. Native Americans were very reluctant to provide labour and most of them had been affected with plagues and war and they were very few in numbers. So Africans were the best alternative, therefore the rise of triangular slave trade.

Climatic conditions of the New World meant that Africans could easily live there since they were used to tropical climates and had immunity of tropical diseases more than people from Europe and Asia. They were able to withstand diseases and conditions of the New World.

Prior knowledge about African continent brought by explores: Before the establishment of slave trade many explorers like Vasco Da Gama and Vasco Diaz-all from Portugal-had already navigated Africa and had discovered many sea routes between Africa and the outsiders such prior knowledge helped them to use Africans as slaves.

The expensiveness of White slaves: Before the mid of 17th century the European mercantilists depended on indentured labourers, criminal convicts, contract labourers and refugees from Europe who proved to be expensive and undependable compared to Africans who were not paid anything apart from their basic needs for survival and were slaves for life.

The basic reasons for the constant shortage of labour was that, with large amounts of cheap land available and lots of landowners searching for workers, free European immigrants were able to become landowners after a relatively short time, thus increasing the need for workers as slaves.

Accessibility between the New World and the West African coast, the distance from West Africa to the New World is very narrow bridged with Atlantic Ocean. Thus easy transportation of slaves from Africa

The establishment of more plantations in the New World which called for more demands of slaves initially it was only Portugal and the Dutch that had established plantations but towards the mid of 17th century France and Britain joined. This increased the demand for cheap labour.

The profitability factor: This acted as an attracting force for many mercantilists to join a trade based on unequal exchange imagine exchanging human being with spices, umbrella, gold, ivory with guns, mirrors and cloth.

Accumulation of wealth: Mercantilists accumulated a lot from this trade which enabled them to sustain super profits obtained and in addition to that, many crops could not be sold for profit, or even grown in Europe.

Exporting crops and goods from the New World to Europe often proved to be more cost effective than producing them on the European mainland. A vast amount of labour was needed for the plantations in the intensive growing, harvesting and processing of these prized tropical crops.

Western Africa (part of which became known as “the slave coast‟ and later central Africa, became a source for enslaved people to meet the demands of labour.

The existence of seasonal winds and currents like the north east trade wind, north equatorial current, the south west and the Gulf streams encouraged the growth of this trade by enabling the vessels of the merchants to sail to Africa, New World and Europe.

Impact of the Triangular slave trade

Social effects

  • Depopulation: Many people died during slave raids or were sent abroad as slaves. E.g.400 millions of people were lost in Africa whereby 150 to 200 million were from East and Central Africa.
  • Separation of families: Some abandoned their homes due to insecurity, some died while trying to escape and some were taken away as slaves.
  • Fear and suspicion due to frequent wars, raids and ambushes.
  • Intermarriage between the foreigners and indigenous people.

Political effects

  • Decline of states, some states declined because they were weakened when their subjects were captured and sold as slaves. For example Wanyasa were greatly weakened by frequent slave raids from their Yao neighbours.
  • The rise of states: Some strong states arose due to accumulation of wealth from slave trade. E.g. the Yao state under Machemba, Nyamwezi under Mirambo and Buganda kingdom under Kabaka Mutesa.

Economic effects

  • Destruction of African subsistence economy: This was because many people engaged in the slave trade as slave dealers or they were taken as slaves so the activities like handcrafts,iron working, salt mining and pottery destructed.
  • Land alienation: Africans were robbed of their best arable land and were turned into serfs and tenants who had to sell off their labour to Arab land owners for their survival. Watumbatu and Waamidu provided their labour in coconut and cloves plantations.
  • Decline of production due to loss of manpower: Slave masters picked strong and healthy people leaving behind the old, sick and weak who could not work.

 

The Origins and Impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Africa

ACTIVITY TO DO

  1. Mention five commodities that were brought by early traders from the Far East and the Middle East.
  2. Outline positive and negative effects of the contacts between people of Africa and those from the Far East and Middle East.
  3. What were the reasons for the Dutch to settle at the Cape?
  4. Explain the causes and effects of triangular slave trade
  5. Mention five ways used to obtain and abolish slave trade in Africa.

 

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