The Impact of Slavery on African Society

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The Impact of Slavery on African Society

Slavery has played a strong role in African society from as early as prehistoric times, continuing to the modern era. Early slavery within Africa was a common practice in many societies, and was very central to the country’s economy. Beginning around the 7th century, two groups of non-African slave traders significantly altered the traditional African forms of slavery that had been practiced in the past. Native Africans were now being forced to leave the country to be used as slaves. The two major slave trades, trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic, became central to the organization of Africa and its societies until the modern era. Slavery and the slave trade strongly affected African society, and left long term impacts on the development of the entire continent due to the dehumanization of Africans and the high demand of labor causing the slow decline and dismantling of African states. From the 7th century, extending to the 20th century, Arab Muslims raided areas of West, Central, and East Africa, transporting thousands of Slaves to North Africa, the Middle East and India. The trans-Saharan slave trade increased between the 10th and 15th centuries, as Empires such as Songhai, Ghana, Mali, and Kanem-Bornu evolved south of the Sahara, guiding the slave trade. Over a period of more than a thousand years, the trans-Saharan slave trade directed the movement of over 10 million enslaved men, women, and children. The trans-Saharan slave trade led to the blossom of powerful African states in the inner parts of East Africa, and southern fringes of the Sahara. Although the trans-Saharan slave trade prompted the expansion of slavery within Africa, it was greatly outdone by the large trans-Atlantic trade that followed after the 15th century. The initial group of European slave traders in West Africa were the Portuguese, which was then followed by the British and French. During the 16th and 17th centuries, these three European Colonial...
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