Slavery in Africa. Beginning of slavery in Africa

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For a long time, people believed in the idea that slavery in Africa was milder and more humanistic compared to slavery practiced in America until the nineteenth century. Many defended the thesis that the captive was absorbed by the people who captured him, characterizing a slavery exclusively domestic in nature, but, as we shall see, slavery in Africa did not only occur in this Format.

In this text, our main objective is to analyze the existing slavery in Africa and compare it with the slavery present in the New World. However, we cannot compare the brutality of slavery in Africa with that of slavery in America. “Which slavery was more brutal to the slaves, African or American?”. This question has no answer, as the parameters used by each form of slavery are based on the specific social, political and cultural reality of each continent.

However, we know that the relationship between master and slave, both in Africa and in America, has always been based on violence, punishments and disciplinary punishments. In addition, people were removed from the environment in which they lived, separated from their families, forced to learn other languages ​​and other customs, in addition to being humiliated and tortured. All these characteristics were called the deterritorialization process, which occurs when individuals are forcibly removed from their territories to other territories that are often inhospitable.

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From then on, it is necessary to be aware that all forms of slavery are inhumane and violent. The slave was in a position of subordination and was never treated as an equal, so we must question the idea that in Africa slavery had been more lenient and humanitarian.

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African slavery turned out to be cruel and inhumane, according to historian Marina de Melo e Souza[i]

“From the earliest times, some men enslaved other men, who were not seen as their fellow men, but as enemies and inferiors. The biggest source of slaves has always been wars, with prisoners being put to work or being sold by the victors. But a man could lose his rights as a member of society for other reasons, such as conviction for transgression and crimes committed, inability to pay debts, or even to survive independently due to default of resources. [...] Slavery existed in many African societies long before Europeans began trafficking slaves across the Atlantic Ocean”(SOUZA, 2006, p. 47 apud MOCELLIN; CARMARGO, 2010, p. 174).

People became enslaved in Africa mainly by wars. Another form of slavery present in Africa was debt slavery: the indebted individual became the debtor's slave.

We know that slavery already existed in Africa before the arrival of Europeans on the continent, but slavery it became a profitable business for both the Africans who enslaved and the Europeans who trafficked slaves. The accentuation of slavery in Africa happened because slave sales to America became a lucrative activity.

[1]SOUZA, Marina de Melo e. Africa and African Brazil. In: CAMARGO, Rosiane de; MOCELLIN, Renato. story in debate. Volume 2. High school. São Paulo: Editora do Brasil, 2010, p. 174.


Leandro Carvalho
Master in History

Would you like to reference this text in a school or academic work? Look:

OAK, Leandro. "Slavery in Africa"; Brazil School. Available in: https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/historiab/escravidao-na-Africa.htm. Accessed on June 27, 2021.

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Slavery in Africa. Beginning of slavery in Africa

For a long time, people believed in the idea that slavery in Africa was milder and more humanisti...

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