How did Africans were brought to America as slaves? Who sold them to the American slaveholders? You can find all the best answers in this article.
People keep arguing on the concept of how the Africans got into slavery and, as a result, were brought to America as slaves. The common belief was that the local Africans started a “business” when they decided on selling people around them as slaves to the Americas. After several years of such an activity and thousand of Africans sold to American slave-holders, it became a regular thing to have a slave from Africa assisting you at your house and having him or her do all the household work.
However, more and more scholars argue that this was actually the case. They state that it is a common misconception that Africans sold their brothers and sisters. There were some who did this, yet they cannot be blamed for all the damage slavery brought to the lives of the black people.
In this article, we will explore the history and track the events to see how the things really looked like in the beginning.
There is good unbiased material provided by one of the Huffington Post authors that say that the trade was first started by the Portuguese who came to Africa and thought that this could possibly be a source of easy profit. As this author claims, to get these slaves, Portuguese slave buyers organised a network with slave traders. The latter were locals who tricked Africans into boarding the ship that would take them as slaves to the Americas or elsewhere.
The process of searching for such slaves usually began with slave raids. In fact, the author mentions one of the first raids back in 1444 organised by Lançarote de Freitas. “The problem with raiding for slaves was that it was extremely dangerous. For instance, the slave trader Nuno Tristão was killed during an ambush. Slave raiding proved to be an extremely dangerous way to obtain slaves, but buying slaves were much safer and took less effort on the part of the Europeans. Therefore, the first phase of the slave trade began not with a trade, but with a series of raids. This point is of particular importance because although the slave trade was on some levels based on a partnership between European buyers and African traders, the slave trade did not begin as such.”
However, such relationship did not usually last, as the buyers kept these traders unaware of the real conditions in which “slaves” to be were kept. Thus, many cases of mutiny organised by slave dealers and supported by the slaves themselves were held.
The relationship between Europeans who bought slaves and Africans who sold them were not well-structured as well. So, the first ones would frequently lie to the traders and not pay them for their services.
There were dozens of heartbreaking stories were captured in the stories by authors like Anne Bailey. “he mentions the story of Chief Ndorkutsu who had been providing captives to the European traders. Eventually, some of the Ndorkutsu’s own relatives were tricked into boarding a slave ship and then taken as slaves to Cuba. In some cases, such as that of Madam Tinubu in Nigeria and Afonso of the Kongo Kingdom, those Africans that initially gave African captives to the Europeans came to resist the slave trade. Tinubu had a change of heart when she realised how inhumanely the slaves were treated. Afonso was almost assassinated by the Portuguese after he demanded an end to the slave trade in his kingdom.”
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Later the slave trade was also used as a way for Africans to get weapons. The thing was that Europeans were reluctant to supply the Africans with modern weapons so that they could defend themselves from the other European countries as well as from other Africans. To get these weapons they had to sell slaves. This made the situation worse, but made the Europeans feel the power in their hands and control the Africans who without the necessary weapons would not be able to protect their lands in the frequent wars they had. So, Africans were made to sell slaves to different nations to get the weapons.
The sad thing is that not only the slaves who got into captivity were suffering but also those who were left on the continent. They were mourning for those who were taken away from them and had to deal with unimaginable and absolutely inhumane treatment. So, slavery had a devastating effect on all the Africans, both brought to America and left to mourn without them.
And as this writer mentions at the end of his article, “some Africans did play a role in the slave trade and the trade could not have been as large as it was without cooperation from Africans. With that being said, I think many people who have not adequately studied the slave trade have a tendency to overstate how involved Africans were in a misguided attempt to shift the blame of the slave trade on Africans.”
Of course, the slavery would not be possible without the help of the Africans to the Europeans that came and took the locals to the slavery. However, it was not their idea or initiative, so people cannot blame it all on the Africans and say that it is entirely their fault. They collaborated, yet they did not initiate this.
Another author mentions that there were two major types of slavery. The first one was introduced by the Islamic traders from the North and Trans-Saharan areas and the other one mentioned above, European trading. The first one was typical of the Islamic culture that was central to the Africans living in the North or Trans-Saharan regions. It was a part of their culture unlike the other areas of Africa where slavery came with the European slave raids.
He states that the reason why Africans were so naïve and eager to collaborate with the Europeans is that they did not fully understand their intentions. As they noted, the white strangers said that their intentions are good, and they would not cause any harm to the Africans. That is why they agreed to collaborate, get on the ships and transfer to Americas as slaves.
Here are his exact words about regarding this fact: “The only way Africans could acquire any weapons was through the trade of slaves. A king of Dahomey once requested that Europeans establish a firearms factory in his nation, but this request went ignored. Guns became necessary for African nations to defend themselves both from African rivals as well as from European intrusion, but the only way to acquire these weapons was through the slave trade. This situation only benefited the competing European powers that were able to play Africans against each other.
Another reason behind it was the difficulty of communication between the white people and local people. When one talked to another, they could hardly understand each other. So, to make the situation easier, these Europeans asked whether the local rulers or tribe leaders could give them some people to help them acquire a new language. That is how the Europeans got their first slaves, or as they called them “servants.”
Later on, these servants would serve as the helpers of the slave buyers. Locals would trust them because they came from the same background, while the Europeans could entrust them with this business because they served at their castles and knew everything about their culture and traditions too. This is how it all started.
Later, after all, the raids took place, these people would become very rich thanks to the successful trade. The would make sure the Africans were shipped to America as a part of the whole Trans-Atlantic slave trade, get paid for the services and feel no shame, except for several cases which we mentioned above.
This is all the information we could present to you in on the article. There is a lot of information you can learn more from including the book by Anne Bailey called “African Voices in the Atlantic Slave Trade” as well as another quality piece of writing called “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” by Walter Rodney. Learn more information from these books and get to know the history of the slavery on the continent.
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