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Transatlantic Slave Trade

Captives being brought on board a slave ship on the West Coast of Africa (Slave Coast), c1880.

For over 2000 years, people living in various parts of the world have practised slavery. Between the centuries of 1500 and 1900, the West Africans and the West Africa Central Africa individuals were forced into slavery by the European. They were shipped across the Atlantic under unfavorable conditions for human survival. The enslaved Africans were only referred to as “slaves” so as to take their identity from them.

Upon reaching the Americas, the slaves were distributed across the country. Their personal lives were not considered as the wives and husbands were separated without anyone caring. Due to this, individuals of African origin are widely spread in America and Western Europe. That is what we call the African Diaspora.

Triangular Trade

The Transatlantic Slave Trade is commonly referred to as the triangular trade. That is because the traded connected three continents. It is estimated that between 25-30 million people; men, women and children were sold as slaves.

The transatlantic Slave Trade alone contributed to the selling of 17 million inhabitants. These figures are exclusive of the people that died on the journey.

The deal took place following three steps. First, ships carrying goods left Western Europe. These were to be used to exchange for slaves.

When they arrived in Africa, captains took the captive slaves and handed over their merchandise. It was a batter trade. The most important commodities were weapons and gunpowder. Other goods that were used include pearls, textiles as well as manufactured goods. The exchange took a period of one week or other times; it went for months.

The second phase involved crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The Africans were taken all the way to Americas where they were to be sold to the rich guys. That wasn’t an easy thing either since the conditions were so deplorable. As a result, many of the slaves died along the way.

The final third stage linked America to Europe. The slave traders took back agricultural products that the slave traders had produced. Sugar was the primary product while coffee, cotton, rice, and tobacco were also yielded.

The complete would go on for approximately 18 months. The traders, on the other hand, came up with innovative ways to transport gas much slaves as they could. In most cases, they removed the steerage of the ship. The main countries in the triangular trade were Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, France and England.

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Transatlantic Slave Trade


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