Even in today's 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 (due in part to the highly sophisticated weapons of war used) whereas the conquered in Sub-Saharan Africa, 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 some "slaves" in Africa in those days before the white man came. However, those "slaves" were not taken 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. Also, in most cases, this "servitude" wasn't permanent. In fact, once there was peace and understanding among the opposing factions, those in servitude ceased to be "slaves" and could return home. There was also a form of servitude whereby people voluntarily went into servitude to pay for financial, customary and other forms of debt. Once again, this wasn't permanent. Once the debt was paid, those people ceased to be servants and returned home. In fact, this form of servitude is still practiced in some rural communities in Africa.
Was Africa one nation? Were Africans one people? Were the Europeans in Africa just to trade? If Africans willingly participated in the "trade" then why would the Europeans bring battle troops and weapons of war all the way from Europe to Africa? Why the so many "Europeans against Natives" wars in African history, and what were the Europeans fighting for in Africa? Were the European currencies of any value to Africans? Was there a common currency in Africa? Which currency was used to buy slaves in Africa? Was there no wine in Africa? Did Africans willingly trade ship-loads of "valuable" slaves for just bottles of wine? Does the Bible permit slavery and slave trade? Why did the church participate in the slave trade?
In most parts of Africa, stories were orally told from generations to generations, sometimes through music, art and culture. There may be some little embelishments and slight deviations from generation to generation and from community to community. However, the simple fact and the basic truth mostly remain. Before I continue, I am not a "historian" and I don't claim to be one. However, I am an African and I cherish our culture and traditions. Also, I did study history in school and I was taught by someone who actually knew what he was talking about.
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. I wanted to comment on the article but the comment section had been disabled and that is why I am making this post to let people know that, Africans (my ancestors) weren't that "stupid" to have sold our own brothers and sisters into slavery just like that. We (my ancestors) were "stupid" to have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by the foreigners (or "white strangers"). 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 ancestors allowed the white strangers into our land because, they (the white strangers) said they "come in peace".
In continuation, please note that there were 2 types of slave trading in Africa. The one introduced mostly by the coming of Islam through the Arab raiders and traders from the Middle East and North Africa 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 or 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. However, 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. It was barter trading where goods were exchanged for goods. My country Ghana was called "Gold Coast". Why? Because, gold was in abundance. Although my ancestors valued gold as a precious metal, the white strangers valued it more. To the white strangers, gold was more precious than blood in some cases. In other words, my ancestors had gold in abundance and the white strangers needed some of the gold. The only way for the white strangers to get pieces of gold in Africa, was to trade things like bottles of wine, clothing and textiles, guns and ammunitions, etc. That was how the "trade" started.
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. 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, since the white strangers said they came to preach the "good news" which was meant to change people from their bad ways, they could actually give those criminals mentioned above to the white strangers so the white strangers could preach the good news they said they came to preach to those criminals, change them into good people, and also train them in the foreign language in order to aid communication. This they thought 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 textiles, 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 7 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 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 countrymen 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 the white strangers 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 that was exactly what they did.
Before the white man came to Africa, tribal wars were mostly fought with swords, spears, bows and arrows. Although these weapons were lethal, they were nowhere near as quick and fatal as the gun. The problem here was that, only the white strangers had guns and decided which tribal group to support in times of battle. Any tribal group the white strangers supported with their powerful cannons, guns and ammunitions, easily conquered their enemies. This also created another major problem. The white strangers did not support any tribal group for free. In fact, the white strangers started demanding taxes (which included pieces of gold and prisoners of war) and total submission after victory. Any tribal group or community which failed to submit to the Europeans and pay taxes were wiped out. Sometimes the leaders of those communities were executed publicly as a form of warning to neighboring communities. Most communities in Africa were turned into concentration camps with European authorities in place.
Although not often mentioned in history books, there were well trained and well equiped European troops all across Sub-Saharan Africa, and they fought several battles with native tribes who refused to submit to European authority and that explains the several "Europeans against natives" wars in the African history.
In other words, my ancestors were not ready to give their own brothers and sisters out into slavery. In fact, most fought and died in battle just to save their communities from the hands of those white strangers. 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.
In Ghana 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 most cases supplied some of those neighboring tribes with guns and other powerful weapons of war 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, my ancestors did not sell their own brothers and sisters into slavery just like that. They were deceived and demonically manipulated by those white strangers who visited our land.