How did the slave trade affect Africa?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The slave trade had a terrible impact on Africa (or at least on the parts of West Africa from which the vast majority of the slaves were taken).  Let us examine some of these impacts.

  •         It hurt Africa economically.  The slave trade took millions of Africans over the years and removed them from their local economies.  These were people who were in the very primes of their lives and were most likely among the most important people for their societies’ economies.  By taking these people away, the slave trade made it harder for Africa’s economy to develop.  The article in the link below speculates that this is one reason why Africa was unable to industrialize.
  •         It hurt African societies.  Imagine the impact on a society when many of its most important members are being taken away to a terrible fate and there is nothing the society can do about it.  It would be a very demoralizing feeling of weakness and helplessness.  It would have traumatized society, perhaps in something of the same way that the Black Death traumatized European society when it killed so many people in the 1300s.
  •         It caused more wars in Africa.  Wars were one of the main ways that slaves were taken.  Therefore, African kingdoms that wanted to sell slaves to the Europeans had to go to war to do so.  The weapons that they got from the Europeans in return for slaves helped fuel these wars.
  •         It may have contributed to the colonization of Africa.  The article in the link below speculates that slavery weakened African society so much that it was easy for the Europeans to come in and colonize Africa in the 1800s.  In this view, Africa was weakened economically and socially to the point that African states could not effectively defend themselves against European colonizers.
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