slavery africaEven in this modern world, there are wars and rumors of war almost everywhere you go. There were wars in Europe in those days and there were wars in America. There were wars almost everywhere in the world. There were tribal wars in Africa too. The difference between the tribal wars in Africa and the wars in the outside world was that, in the outside world, the conquered were often butchered whereas the conquered in Africa (excluding Arabs/Muslims in the north) became part of the conqueror. In other words, while no enemy was left standing in the outside world, the conquered enemies were left to live and serve in Africa.

 So it is true there were "slaves" in Africa in those days before the White man came.

However, those "slaves" were not taken by force purposely to become slaves of another Kingdom or empire. They were just victims of tribal wars and it was somehow "better" than what was happening in the outside world where no enemy was allowed to live.

I read an article online today and I was shocked to read so many people believe Africans sold their own brothers and sisters into slavery just like that. My teachers and sources taught me something quite different. I wanted to comment on the article but the comment section had been disabled so I couldn't comment and that is why I am making this post to let people know that we Africans weren't that stupid to have sold our own brothers and sisters into slavery just like that. We were stupid to have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by the foreigners (my people used to refer to the white men as "white strangers" so pardon me if you see a "white stranger" in my post). We were stupid to have trusted the "white stranger" in the first place and we were stupid to have allowed the "white stranger" into our land. My people allowed the white strangers into our land because they (the White Strangers) said they "come in peace".

Before I continue, please note that there were 2 types of slave trading in Africa. The one introduced mostly by the coming of Islam through the Arab traders from the North or the Trans-Saharan slave trade and the one introduced by the coming of the Europeans or the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (the one I am talking about). The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade is deeply rooted in the Islamic cultures of several countries in the North (especially in the Maghreb region aka the "Berber world") and still practiced although "silently" by Muslim-dominant countries such as Mauritania and Libya.

According to my grandfather, In those days when there were no Christianity and no modern day government systems in Africa, Kings, Queens, and other traditional rulers ruled their kingdoms as heads of state and judged cases according to the rules and regulations of the land. Those who disobeyed the laws of the land were punished and those who obeyed and sacrificed for the land were rewarded accordingly. Although every land had some "prison" facilities, those prisons weren't meant for large groups of criminals so those who killed were killed. Those who stole paid dearly for it. Those who slept with people's wives were banished from the land. Children who disobeyed elders were punished accordingly. And so on.

My country Ghana in West Africa was a major Slave Trading Post (Headquarters) where slaves from different parts of Africa were brought and arranged before shipping abroad.

When the White strangers first came to Africa, We (my ancestors) were not sure about their intentions so most communities drove them away from their land but the White strangers managed to convince some of our traditional rulers that they had not come to cause any harm but just to preach the good news (the Bible) and also to trade with the local people. Some of the local chiefs along the coast started accepting the White strangers by giving them place to stay. The White strangers started building missionary centers where they stayed and preached the gospel and also traded with the local people. However, the white strangers later on expanded those missionary centers (including churches and cathedrals) into forts and castles where they packed slaves before shipping them abroad.

The white strangers did not understand the local language and the local people did not understand a word the white strangers were saying so it made communication very difficult. To help break the language barrier, the white strangers went to the local rulers and asked the local rulers to give them some of the local people to train so they could speak the foreign language which would make communication easier but none of those local rulers were ready to give their people out to go stay with strangers.

Later on, some of the local rulers came up with an idea that, instead of killing those criminals, they could actually give those criminals to the white strangers so the white strangers could preach the good news they said they came to preach to those criminals and also train them in the foreign language in order to aid communication which was better than killing those criminals. So the traditional rulers gave those criminals out to the white strangers and to show appreciation, those white strangers gave gifts like bottles of wine, mirrors, etc. to the traditional rulers. That was how the white strangers got their first "local servers".

Those local people (the criminals) lived and served the white strangers in the castles and forts and learned the foreign language which enabled them to serve as mediators translating the local language for the white strangers and the foreign language to the local people. This helped a lot in communication. As I mentioned earlier on, those local servers living with the white strangers were the criminals in the society and although they served as mediators and made communication a whole lot easier, they also made life a living hell for the local people (some as a form of revenge). For example, when the white strangers sent them to go collect taxes (lets say 5 pieces of gold), those criminals added their own taxes and made it 8 pieces of gold. At times too they mis-translated just so they could get more power. Some of those criminals even became more powerful than the traditional rulers. In other words, the white strangers, after preaching the good news to those criminals, turned them into even far more dangerous monsters than they were before. Why? Because only the white man had guns at that time and they shot anyone the criminals considered "criminals". Those criminals were the few "Africans" who helped the white strangers to get more slaves. However, don't forget the fact that they were criminals condemned to death in their various societies for being "Un-African".

Those local people living with the white strangers served and "worshiped" them so well to the point where the white strangers began asking for more. Because of the benefits they derived from those local servers, some of the white strangers took some local servers with them on their return home. Back home (abroad), they found those local servers (the black men from Africa) very useful and decided to come back for more. They realized they could use them to work on their plantation farms back home to make more money. They also realized they could sell some of those 'local servers' to their friends and relatives and make more money and that was why most of them (the white strangers but this time around slave traders) returned with the intention of picking more local servers (this time around, slaves)

So they returned for slaves but no local ruler was ready to give their people out except those criminals I mentioned earlier on and prisoners of war (tribal wars). In my country for example, the Ashantis and those living in the interior parts of the country did not want to have anything to do with the white strangers. In fact, the first white stranger that set foot on the Ashanti empire did not return.

 However, the white strangers needed slaves and more slaves but there was no easy way of getting slaves in Africa. So what they did was that, they created confusion among the various tribes so that there would be more tribal wars and more war prisoners so they could get more slaves and prisoners of war and that was exactly what they did. As time went on, the white strangers started supplying some of the local warriors (most of them criminals) with guns to enable them wound and capture more war prisoners for them and in return the white strangers started giving those local warriors gifts to encourage them catch more prisoners of war for them. Please NOTE: my people were not ready to give their own brothers and sisters out into slavery. Rather, the white strangers were the ones who "demonically" manipulated my people by creating so much confusion between the various tribes and creating so many tribal wars all in an effort to get slaves.

The more tribal conflicts the white strangers created, the more slaves they got so those white strangers created even more confusion among tribal groups and communities. In my country for example, because the Ashanti empire was so powerful to defeat, the white strangers created so much confusion and so many wars between the Ashantis and the neighboring tribes and in some cases supplied some of those neighboring tribes with guns to enable them defeat the Ashantis. The white strangers continued this until they were able to defeat the Ashantis and took away the king of the Ashantis (Nana Prempeh I) and the queen mother (Nana Yaa Asantewaa) and several others into exile just to break the Ashanti kingdom apart even after slavery so they could colonize and control the Ashanti gold,etc.

To conclude, we Africans did not sell our own brothers and sisters into slavery just like that. We were deceived and "demonically" manipulated by those white strangers who visited our land and the most painful part is that, some of my people were too blind to see which is very sad.

RELATED:  Christianity and Slavery: The role of the Church

RELATED:  The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: Follow-up

RELATED:  Barter Trading and Taxation in Colonial Africa



Comments  
Chukwuemeka
#13 Chukwuemeka 2019-01-28 07:05
This article is making a very important point but sadly some people are getting it all wrong. The article is not claiming no single African participated. However, under what circumstances/conditions were those who participated? Also, is it right to generalize an entire continent based on the actions of some selected few?

There are evil men in every society. Even heaven had Lucifer.. and I think it would be quite insane for someone to think that no single African helped the white man get slaves. The criminals in our societies were punished for their crimes. Then the white man came with the Bible promising to change criminals into good people. We released those criminals to them and what did they do? the white man supplied those criminals with guns and brainwashed them into killing machines (all because the white man needed slaves). Those criminals never got paid for their services (as in selling the captured slaves). Their payment was in kind as in "revenge". Also, those criminals represented an insignificant fraction of the population. For example, Adolf Hitler had an entire army supporting him but would it be OK to say "German people killed the Jews during the Holocaust"? We only hear "Adolf Hitler murdered 6 million Jews". Several Jews helped Adolf Hitler murder their fellow Jews yet how often we hear "Jews murdered their fellow Jews during the Holocaust"?. Why then is it OK to generalize and blame an entire continent for crimes masterminded by outsiders (Europeans)?? That is where history is wrong.
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Joe Michigan
#12 Joe Michigan 2019-01-28 06:42
The ONLY African Americans I know are the ones born in Africa. I have had the pleasure of knowing a number of them and they are in many ways like me in my understanding of what it is like to be away from the "mother" country, and the work ethic it takes to make something new in the USA. My parents born overseas and myself experiencing the "old country" for 8 years gives me a rather unique perspective. People whose ancestors have lived for more than 3 generations in the US just don't understand that. Except for the Americans of African descent that decide to leave the familiar confines of the black neighborhood. They become immigrants all over again, with their own kin rejecting them for not "representing" and the white people not understanding what they are going through.
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Michael DelGrosso
#11 Michael DelGrosso 2018-12-09 13:07
Was a nasty, but necessary war fought in America to free black slaves? Because of that nasty, but necessary war, have blacks realized that they are free? Do blacks realize that even awful, horrific crimes against you don't have to mean the forever destruction of you? Are blacks able to forgive? Are blacks able to acknowledge that many peoples have been enslaved no matter how it happened, yet they have not self-destructed? Do blacks ignore the huge leaps and bounds made by blacks? Can blacks accept that everyone's best and worst quality is that we are human, therefore we sometimes make horrible decisions? Do blacks know that slavery is not what drives you to kill your fellow black American? Do blacks realize that slave owners are not what drives absentee parents? Can blacks let go of the past, so that their hands are open to take hold of their future?

If blacks cannot understand and accept the obvious answers to the aforementioned questions, they will continue to be a bottom-rung race of free, but unequal (by their own hands) people. The past happens in order to make ready the path for the future. Your present situation is only as permanent as you want it to be. Change direction, change your future.
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Shanon Sugges
#10 Shanon Sugges 2018-12-09 12:41
There was slavery in many different forms throughout history. The difference between those and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is the circumstances surrounding the ability to enslave someone. It was historically a by-product of war. The winning side took slaves from the losing side and used them to rebuild their country. There were others who were taken and enslaved but it was for the most part illegal and done in the shadows. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was the first time that a person's color was used as a criteria to enslave people.

And for those who believe slavery was over in 1865 after Lincoln freed them, slavery never ended. It only changed to an institution of the state. It was an acceptable punishment if you committed a crime. Read the 13th and 14th Amendments. Shortly after the emancipation proclamation, laws were passed that targeted freed Africans so that the state could then turn them back over to the plantations they had work on through the convict leasing program. This still exist today.
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Scott Goss
#9 Scott Goss 2018-11-22 17:12
Every culture and society has had slaves, but it's only the black slaves that are ever mentioned. No one else is important but blacks right? I'm so freaking sick of this. And blacks don't tell me to keep quiet about this! You don't own the rights to free speech. You were not a slave, your parents were not slaves, and your grandparents were not slaves, and your great-grandparents were not slaves. I did not own slaves, my parents did not own slaves, My grandparents did not own slaves, and my great grandparents did not own slaves. Get over it! You are not the only people who have suffered in this world. Yet your voices are the only ones we here crying all the time about everything!
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Bill DeMent
#8 Bill DeMent 2018-11-22 17:09
Slavery was a part of our history. There is nothing we can do about it now. We fought a civil war over this question and the results was that all slaves were freed and slavery was abolished in the United States. History is history. We cannot rewrite history today to fit our own version of how we feel. There are the haves and the have nots in all societies, even the African societies from which most if not all Black Americans originate. We need to stop living in the past and start living for the future. As long as we divide ourselves into black and white we will never achieve the goals of Dr. King. For many years, I thought he was evil incarnate, but as I have aged and gained wisdom, I have come to understand that he was indeed a great man who had a vision of the future that is totally different from the race mongers of today. If he were alive, he would be ashamed of the way our society has turned out.
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Muna
#7 Muna 2018-11-21 16:44
It saddens me to experience hate from some of our brothers and sisters that are descendants of slavery all because they think our ancestors sold them into slavery. To be honest I do understand why they think so. Indeed slavery not only hurt our ancestors that were taken into slavery, it also put Africa as a continent backward. We have our culture but the white strangers came with deceit, manipulation and took our kindness and stole our people and riches. Africans tend to trust strangers so easily if only the white men were never allowed into our lands. I hope we keep a very watchful eye on the Chinese with their so called loans.
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Dana Gale
#6 Dana Gale 2018-10-14 06:46
To those of you who want to place blame on Africans for selling their own, please read king Leopold's ghost. While it is primarily a story of how one man fed his greed by raping the Congo resulting in the death of millions of Congolese, it also shines a light on how every European contributed to get their piece of the pie. Yes, Africans sold slaves to white men. Mostly these were Africans operating out of fear, or, and we must concede this, greed. However, it does not make it right, and it certainly does not allow you to place the blame for the European and American enslavement of Africans ON the Africans. That would be like concluding the Jews were responsible for the holocaust simply because you were able to find a few Jews that turned in other Jews. Otherwise good people act in unlikely ways when they are afraid, or even trusting of a malevolent intruder.

So, as a white person, I say to all of you white people who think that showing that Africans sold other Africans somehow reduces our culpability in the slave trade, it does not. We went into a land that was inhabited by a people with their own cultures, some more advanced by our standards than you might believe, and took out everything we could. All of the riches, all of the resources, which sadly had long lasting effects that we still see today. Read King Leopold's Ghost.
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Rich Attonito
#5 Rich Attonito 2018-10-12 06:59
Great article and very educational in breaking down the origin of how the slave trade began with the Europeans. Of course it's very unfortunate and we all can't do anything about what happened. The thing I find interesting is that local tribes decided to give criminals over to the Europeans and people seem so surprised that criminals took advantage of the opportunity and basically turned on their own people. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, the mistake of the tribes with the handling of their criminals was exploited by the economic greed of the Europeans. So lets be real because nobody is completely innocent in this thing. Why would you ever free murderers and thieves? Perhaps if the local leaders allowed the most honorable members of the tribe to bridge the gap then there would be a different outcome. Please don't mistake my comment because by no means does that justify the horrors that this developed into with slavery etc.. i'm just commenting in regards to the subject of the article itself. God Bless.
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Claudia Cristina Granjeiro
#4 Claudia Cristina Granjeiro 2018-10-07 11:45
This manipulation was more cunning in comparison to the Aztecs who already had against them the belief that the Spaniards had been sent by the gods. Now it seemed very simplistic to me that the Africans themselves sold their own people. In Brazil, there is a break in politics and we see a country being governed by criminals and the people are simply paralyzed and few know to conclude that there is manipulation by these criminals using the public power to try to paint the path of crimes they have committed and which have been committed against the motherland. They distort any order of interpretation that underpins the Republic and Democracy. They have managed to instill hatred against only one party while the others, with a rare exception, are the criminals selling our country and taking our people to retreat that I could never have imagined, not only our material possessions like Petrobras, but also issues like Education, Health and other essential services are being left to be provided only for the political and economic class to accumulate and accumulate more and more to the detriment of the less favored classes and minorities. In a world with real-time information and people did not change their way of acting from those you could not go get information and relate them so that you could have some degree. How many beliefs do I have and which ones will I be able to overcome?
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