The “discovery” of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 linked the worlds of Europeans, West Africans and Native American Indians. The Portuguese and Spaniards led the colonization of the Americas, but were soon followed by the French, English and Dutch. The slave trade created a trading triangle in between Europe, Africa and the Americas. European and West African societies are similar in their hierarchal social order, involvement in the slave trade and farming societies; yet differ in religious organization and expansionist policies. When comparing Europe to Native American Indians, they share an involvement in trade and farming, while differing in religions and government.
The traditional European society and the West African society, while different in climate, location and culture, share many similarities. For example, authority from above controlled both societies—by princes in West Africa and by family, the church and the village in Europe. Life at the bottom of the social hierarchy was primarily dedicated to farming, as peasants farmed in rural communities in Europe and West Africans farmed small plots of land that specialized in certain crops. Those with authority and means in both West Africa and European societies could involve themselves in the slave trade. Europeans would send ships and payment to West Africa, then send the fully loaded slave ships to the New World. However, the differences between these societies far outweigh their similarities.
European culture and West African culture seem to be the antithesis of one another. Europe underwent the Renaissance prior to their age of expansion, which the West Africans did not. The Roman Catholic Church united most of Europeans under the cloak of Christianity while the West Africans recognized many deities and had many different beliefs. The want for land, trade and “guns, god and glory” also unified many European societies in the quest for overseas colonies. Contrarily, the West...
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