Slavery is a horrible page in Nigerian history. Its cancelation has brought many good things. Learn how stood at the core of this process.
There have been many tragedies throughout the history. They are sometimes so outrageous that it’s hard to believe they are true events. However, they are. Slavery is thought to be one of the most cruel and unjust part of our history. Many people keep asking who stopped slave trade. Before you get an answer to such question, you need to know several important details about slavery in general.
First of all, let us look at the word itself. The term slavery is described as a condition in which certain people are owned by others. The “masters” control everything in their lives, including where they live and work, and how they die. This phenomenon used to exist in the most of the places around the globe.
Excursion into the history
Many people, who study slavery phenomenon, think that it has started with the civilization. Before it, when there were hunters and gatherers, there was no need for slaves. People just collected or grew food enough for themselves. Thus, owning a human being had no economical advantages, because he/she would need to eat as well.
The first official information concerning slaves appeared in the eighteenth century BC in Babylon. Their legal status was considered as a valuable property of the owner. However, the system in that place was not the most brutal of all times, because slaves, for instance, were allowed to own things and property themselves.
The next milestone refers to the seventh century, Greece. Both Athens and Sparta depended on the forced labor. However, there was a big difference between them. In Sparta, there were mostly conquered people who stayed on their land and were left several rights. In Athens, on the contrary, slaves had no rights. Their fortune depended on which work they did.
Then comes the second century BC, Roman Empire. They got some greater opportunities in that time. However, one or two century before they had suffered really greatly. They were forced to kill each other on arenas, they worked in chain gangs, etc. There were even several uprisings in that time.
We're approaching to the middle ages, which include 6th – 15th centuries. People were usually used for working in households and armies. However, the slave trade thrived. It was popular mostly across the Mediterranean states. Unsophisticated tribes on that territory could be enslaved. The actual “title” of slaves is derived from the tribal name – Slavs (conquered during the Germans’ expansion).
In the south of the Mediterranean states, there lived Arab dynasties that stimulated African slave trade. Zawila was their trading station. In the seventh century during the rule of Muhammad, slavery was an accepted part of Arabian life.
Even Christian countries were engaged in this phenomenon. However, Catholic bishops and missionaries argued against it. That is why slavery disappeared from Western Europe and was replaced by serfdom.
The most cruel and glaring example of slavery appeared in the fifteenth century when the Portuguese came to West Africa. They had an expedition on the ships and opened a new route. Thus, Africans have been imported by the sea into Europe since 1444.
Cape Verde Islands were mostly known during that time as the Slave Coast. Slaves grew cotton, worked in the plantations and factories. Then they might have been sold to the slaving ships for cash. After starting tobacco and sugar production in America, the situation became even worse. Later, British people started to control the majority of such ships and became strongly engaged into the trade.
Triangular trade had several steps:
- necessary goods were taken from England to Africa (especially rum) where there were a lot of slaves,
- African slaves were brought to the biggest American market in West Indies,
- slaves were exchanged on molasses there (for making rum),
- it was brought back to Britain.
Besides, you know about the sufferings in American states during all years of the colonization history. Blacks could be sold, killed, taken from the ones they love and from their families. However, the situation was a bit different in the northern and southern states. North wasn't so cruel with slaves and finally started to fight the phenomenon.
While south was extremely radical in that issue, they didn’t think of the black ones as people at all.
In the nineteenth century, the abolition movement started. The first impulse to it was given by British Empire. At the end of the 18th century, people started thinking and saying, slavery wasn’t supported by law and no one had rights to it. Thus, in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act was signed. It forbade slavery throughout the Empire. Nevertheless, there were several exceptions for the first time, which included:
- territories of the East India Company,
- the Ceylon Island,
- the Saint Helena Island.
They were also eliminated in 1843.
Nigeria used to be a part of the Empire, but their struggling took much more time there. The problems with internal slave trade still existed. Despite the blockade, about 1 million slaves were exported from Nigeria during that period. And the risks made the trading even more profitable.
It made British intervene into the state internal affairs and cooperate with the authorities during the whole 19th century and in the early 20th. Thus, Britain managed to extend its control and influence along the coast. They were those who stopped slave trade in Nigeria.
The situation in America was a bit different. As two parts of it had different views, the Civil War started. As the historians say, the northern states have been more motivated and purposeful. They believed in their ideals and protected their land. Thus, in 1865 they defeated the slave states. The war itself started in 1861.
And in 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which announced: "all persons held as slaves…are, and henceforward shall be free." It was a really powerful gesture, which promised freedom to everyone. It inspired people.
Thus, the war along with the slavery ended in America.
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Facts about African slavery
The most important facts concerning this issue include the following:
- As large amount of enslaved Africans had been brought to America, they became the biggest part of population.
- Most of slaves were Africans because of the different cultures and mentality. If they had the same values and identity there would be no African slaves.
- More that 10% of slaving expeditions experienced the rebellions. Is had a bad influence on the profit.
- Most of slave routes led from the western coast of Africa to the North America.
- Luanda, Bonny, and Whydah were the three top embarkation points. They counted more than 2 million slave departures.
Slave issue is very complicated. It has influenced the lives of many people around the globe in different times. Even now, people remember about it. To avoid the reiteration of such tragedy we should be aware of all the terrible facts of slavery. Besides that, it is essential to teach people to respect each other from the childhood. Everyone was born equal and with the same rights.