What were the social impacts that slave trade had on Africa?

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The Atlantic Slave Trade had horrific social impacts on the African continent, as millions of African people were kidnapped throughout the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and forced to work in grueling, torturous, and deadly conditions across North and South America under European colonialism. The destabilization of the continent...

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The Atlantic Slave Trade had horrific social impacts on the African continent, as millions of African people were kidnapped throughout the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and forced to work in grueling, torturous, and deadly conditions across North and South America under European colonialism. The destabilization of the continent that resulted from the slave trade led for easier invasion of Africa by European armies. After the Atlantic Slave Trade died down in the midÔÇôlate 1800s (though technically abolished in 1807, the slave trade continued for decades after), European countries colonized and controlled African nations and territories. For example, the Belgian military and hired mercenaries, under King Leopold II, invaded the Congo of Africa in the 1880s and forcibly established the Congo Free State, which resulted in the deaths of roughly 10 million African people under the brutal regime of Leopold II. Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain all participated in the ensuing "Scramble for Africa" that resulted in millions of deaths, growing slavery within Africa under imperialist rule, mass suffering, displacement, and land theft. Many tribes and nations chose to resist, and while some were successful, most fell under the catastrophic European weaponry and masses of armies. By the 21st century, the slave trade and following century of imperialist rule has resulted in massive suffering, disempowerment, and European/US-rooted dictatorships across the continent of Africa, even after technical decolonization.

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Between the 1500s and 1800s, it is estimated by historians that twelve million Africans were enslaved and sent across the Atlantic (See Reference 1). As a result, the consequences on African society were diverse and far-ranging.

For example, you could talk about how contact with European slave-traders introduced a number of new diseases to Africa. Smallpox and typhus were particularly dangerous, especially to young children, and caused a large number of deaths. When you consider that the slave trade caused a population decline (because so many Africans were removed from the country), the arrival of these diseases only exacerbated the problem.

In addition, you could also talk about the impact of slave raids on African society. In a slave raid, a local merchant or ruler would send soldiers to a village with the purpose of capturing locals. These locals were then sold on as slaves. These slave raids not only caused widespread fear and alarm, they also normalized violence in African society and contributed to social division, as merchants were so consumed by greed that they no longer cared about the people within their own region.

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The Atlantic slave trade had a variety of negative social effects on Africa. The European exploitation of African resources and human labor, as well as the constant demand for slaves to export to North America, was devastating to African society. Millions of Africans were taken as slaves, and local leaders waged war on neighboring groups to take prisoners of war to sell as slaves to Europeans. The slave raids within Africa resulted in famine, and many taken as slaves died on the route to the coast or on slave ships. Inter-ethnic conflict increased as a result of the slave raids, and African society was increasingly dominated by warlords who sold slaves for personal profit at the expense of Africa's economy. The fear of neighboring warlords caused some ethnic groups to migrate, resulting in economic and technological regression for the migrants. African society also restructured itself by creating a more rigidly hierarchical and authoritarian society in the hopes of protecting themselves against the slave trade. The Atlantic slave trade damaged Africa's economy, changed its governmental structures to predatory or authoritarian systems, caused mass displacement, and greatly reduced the population as people were taken as slaves or died in the process. Overall, the slave trade severely damaged African society.

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