Slavery commoners, since private landholding in Africa didn’t

Slavery – African OriginsSince ancient times, slavery was a common practice in Africa.  Rival tribes would take each other’s people as slaves during slave raids and in wars. Slavery was a way to produce wealth for commoners, since private landholding in Africa didn’t really exist until Europeans began arriving. Africans were active participants in the Atlantic slave trade, capturing slaves and bringing them to Europeans. Most slaves in the Atlantic slave trade came from the Gold Coast of Africa. Before the Atlantic slave trade, slavery and the slave trade were not foreign concepts in Africa. Slaves were viewed as a form of wealth: they could be traded for a profit or used as free labor to generate goods, which could then be traded/sold. To get slaves, African societies raided other villages, taking an active part in the slave trade on their continent. Chattel slavery, where slaves are treated as the master’s property, was widespread in Northern Africa under the Romans. The practice continued under the Mali, Songhai, and Ghana Empires, where it was very important to the economy. While some slaves were often viewed as property, others were viewed as dependants in other societies, part of the owner’s family. The slave trade grew significantly with the rise of trans-Saharan trade. The trans-Saharan slave trade was expanded by Muslim Arabs. They bought slaves in West Africa and sold them in North Africa. However, some historians argue that Islam increased chances of emancipation because it encouraged slaves to be freed after their master’s death. Slavery under Islamic law was less harsh than other parts of the world. Slaves would be used more for domestic work than for harsh labor.The Atlantic slave trade significantly changed the slave trade in Africa. Africans began to make up a majority of slaves, after only being a small percentage of them in 1600. This was because Europeans needed labor for their plantations. Native Americans weren’t sufficient since many had been wiped out by disease. Africans, having lived with herd animals for a long time, had the same immunities to diseases that the Europeans had, so were seen as better laborers. It wasn’t the Europeans, but the Africans, who captured the slaves. Africans were already accustomed to the slave trade, capturing slaves from the inland and bringing them to the Europeans to trade. Many of the slaves came from regions of West Africa, which became known as the Slave Coast.  

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