Topics: Nigeria, British Empire, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 6 (1763 words) Published: July 19, 2015
Located in West Africa and bordering the Atlantic, Nigeria is a big country that occupies 356,667 square miles with a total population of 168 million. Nigeria is abundant in natural resources like coal, gold, lead, iron, salt, copper, and zinc, but it is best known as a big producer of oil. Thanks to its size, population, and resources, Nigeria is dubbed as “the giant of Africa” (Falola, 4). According to World Bank Data of 2010, Nigeria has an annual percentage growth rate as 8.0%, one of the world’s highest rate. Yet, its poverty still remains high. The National Bureau of Statistics gave that 60.9% of Nigerians are living on less than a $1 dollar a day (BBC). The poverty problem that Nigeria is facing traces its origins back to the slave trade and colonialism, and evolves till today. The most important origin in making Nigerian poverty history is slavery. Slave trade in Africa started when four hundred slaves were shipped out of the Niger Delta by the Portuguese in 1480 (Falola, 31). During the eighteenth century, sugar production, gold mining, and the production of staple crops blossomed in many parts of Americas; which escalated the demand for slavery (Mann, 31). As a result, more than 3.5 million slaves were shipped from Nigeria to America. (Schwab, 12). While slavery brought Europeans a huge amount of profits, Nigeria and the rest of African continent suffered a great loss in population which could contribute in developing their country. Young healthy men, who captured as slaves, could have worked daily with their families in producing manufactured goods like kitchen utensils and pots, or farming to trade in the markets. Trading in developed markets could create a network that promoted interactions among the various states. This helped to diversify and strengthen the states’ economy. Unfortunately, Europeans introduced slave trade to the independently developing Africa and made it the top trade above all other trade. Europeans would not be able to have an “endless” source of cheap labor without the corporations and willingness of African natives as middlemen. For example, Lagosians established the Slave Coast and was successful in dominating their own trades since no outsiders could interfere with them (Mann, 52). Lagos warriors captured “their friends” in exchange for goods and weapons. Members of Lagos’s ruling oligarchy spent their new wealth lavishly on luxury goods and build new castles to meet their “passion of spectacle and display,” instead of spending on government plans to strengthen their states (Mann, 79). Even though slavery generated an enormous profit slave traders, it had major economic consequences. As the ruling elites and merchants enjoyed their new revenue solely on slavery, there was no need for them to diversify investments. The local production of commodities like salt, iron tools, and textile became very limited and depended upon European goods coming from the slave trade. As a result, trading in market was fewer in kinds and participants which only benefited a small ruling classes and foreigners. Plus, slave traders directly exchanged slaves for European goods or weapons without any medium of exchange, so no “actual” form of currency flow into the Niger Delta region (Falola 31). No medium of exchange meant that Nigerian side would be hurt when slaves were no longer wanted and wealth could be difficult to store. In addition, many small states fought against one another continuously to be slave providers for Europeans throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. (Mann, 52). Their competition lowered the value of slaves; thus, they got less European goods in return for more slaves. Their overdependence on the slave trade created a narrow economy, which meant that a decreasing demand for slaves could bust the whole region’s economy, which later occurred in the Industrial Revolution. During the nineteenth century, the developing of antislavery movement and the Industrial...
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