Firstly let discuss on what Slavery is…. What is Slavery?
Slavery refers to a condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and at what they work. Slavery had previously existed throughout history, in many times and most places. The ancient Greeks, the Romans, Incas and Aztecs all had slaves.
What does it mean to be a slave or enslaved person?
To be a slave is to be owned by another person. A slave is a human being classed as property and who is forced to work for nothing. An enslaved person is a human being who is made to be a slave. This language is often used instead of the word slave, to refer to the person and their experiences and to avoid the use of dehumanising language.
How Slavery Start in Africa
Slavery can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1860 BC), which refers to it as an established institution, and it was common among ancient peoples.
Slavery has historically been widespread in Africa, and still continues today in some countries. Systems of servitude and slavery were common in parts of Africa, as they were in much of the ancient world. In many African societies where slavery was prevalent, the enslaved people were not treated as chattel slaves and were given certain rights in a system similar to indentured servitude elsewhere in the world. When the Arab slave trade and Atlantic slave trade began, many of the local slave systems began supplying captives for slave markets outside Africa.
Slavery within Africa was different. A slave might be enslaved in order to pay off a debt or pay for a crime. Slaves in Africa lost the protection of their family and their place in society through enslavement. But eventually they or their children might become part of their master’s family and become free. This was unlike chattel slavery, in which enslaved Africans were slaves for life, as were their children and grandchildren.
The treatment of slaves in Africa varied widely. Ottobah Cuguano, a former slave, remembered slaves as being ‘well fed … and treated well’. Olaudah Equiano, another former slave who wrote an account of his life, noted that slaves might even own slaves themselves. In larger states some slaves worked in government administration, and might become an important state or royal official with wide ranging powers. Other slaves in Africa might work within their master’s household as domestic servants or as agricultural labourers. Others were sent to work in the gold mines of West Africa. Pictured here are two weights in the shape of a soldier and captive. They were used to weigh gold dust, which was itself used as a type of money. Mining for gold was hard and dangerous work, and many died.
Africans usually enslaved ‘other’ people, not their own particular ethnic, or cultural, group. Slaves were taken as prisoners of war, or enslaved in payment for debt or as punishment for crime. This enslavement was usually on a small scale. It was enough to supply the demand for slaves within Africa, but not enough to supply the demand from outside. As the demand from outsiders such as Arabs and Europeans grew, warfare and raids to get slaves and the kidnapping of individuals increased. Europeans wanted to buy enslaved Africans to work on the land they owned on the Caribbean islands and in America. They chose Africans for a number of reasons, one being because they were used to farming. Pictured here is a 20th century hoe, a tool used to work the soil. It is from the Igbo people of Nigeria, West Africa.