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The trans-Atlantic slave trade marked an important time in the history and map of the world. This essay is an attempt to examine the impact of Slave trade on Africa and Africans in the Diaspora. It begins by giving a brief background on slave trade, its impacts and concludes by bringing all the threads. It is presented on the author’s view point that it is was an evil trade whose implications has caused and is still causing harm on African psyche in Africa and in Diaspora
Africa is a continent that has suffered greatly from the hands of foreign invasion. There is no continent on earth has suffered from slave trade like Africa, which was first started by Arab merchants and polished by White men. Africans who were captured by Arabs were mainly transported to Middle East to work to was slaves. It is estimated that Arabs were responsible for the transportation of over four millions Africans from North, East and South Africans (Thornton 1998). But when the White men joined this trade is gave it a different dimension all together. This type of slave trade was commonly referred to a Trans Atlantic slave trade which was responsible for the movement of Africans to West Indies, Americas and Europe.
The transatlantic slave trade is a term used to in relations to the slave trade which was done across the Atlantic Ocean which took place between the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. It mainly affected Africans from west and central Africa who were transported en mass to work in white men’s in South and North America, West Indies and Europe. History suggests that over 12 millions African were captured through raids and kidnapping and transported to the New worlds to work for White Europeans. They worked as slaves in white men’s homes, plantations farms, construction industries, mining fields and shipping yards (Klein & Klein, 1999).The presence of Black in these places is a reminder of what happened to their forefathers who were forcibly uprooted from their homes in Africa to unknown destination. Most African in Diaspora today look back to Trans Atlantic slave as the beginning of their journey to un known destination. The origins of slave trade connected with the Europeans search for gold and raw materials for their industries and safer route to the Far East (Thornton 1998). The Portuguese were first white people to se their foot in Africa, in search for new route to the Indian via the coasts of Africa where they would make lucrative business (Thornton 1998). Then the rest of Europeans followed suit after noticing the economic gains that were emerging from the colonies and new worlds.
Although, slave trade was practiced in Africa long before the white man came to Africa. It is the emergence of trans Atlantic slave trade that made a major impact on Africans. The slave trade left a devastating impact on Africans in Africa and also in Diaspora which are outlined as follows; First; it destroyed African homes and separated families through forceful removal. This isolated Africans from their homeland and alienated them from their mother cultures and traditions. It rippled Africa of it human resources and man power covering all corners of African continent. According to Thornton (1998) most African slaves were bought from African themselves who had been captured from warfare that were common amongst Africans at the time. Children were separated from parents and this continued to the new world where they were subjected on inhuman treatment in the plantations fields. Lovejoy (2000) maintains that slave trade affected the demographic balances in Africa because millions of Africans were displaced, killed and transported to New Worlds. It contributed to the massive loss of the population which affected the economic productions and social systems of most communities.
Secondly, It gave rise to the colonization of African as European powers began to scramble for power in African dividing it into areas of their sphere of influence. It was not enough to take Africans to work them in their own countries, they now began to search for commercial opportunities and raw materials from Africa (Williams, 1994).As a result, these Europeans ripped Africa of its natural resources, which is still being felt today. Today, the continent of Africa is being devastated by poverty dating back to the colonial (Akyeampong, 2000). The European exploited Africa lands and natural resources for their own commercial profits especially in the cash crops and mineral resources. As a result, European nations become richer and Africa was confined to the depths of poverty and deprivation, the legacy that is still being felt today (Williams,1994).
Third; The abolition of slave trade gave birth to problem to black people, it brought a new concept of racism. African in Diaspora are no longer wanted by their hosts despite done a lot to the establishment of their economies. Africans in Diaspora were being discriminated against on basis of their color and treated inhumanly as second class citizens (Akyeampong, 2000). This some affected the conscious mind of Africans in Diaspora who had to create their own social system to facilitate their survival and livelihood away from their motherland. Today, Africans in Diaspora are still treated with lots of suspicion and stereotyped on the basis of their color which continues to affect their relationship with the rest of humanity, effects the way they define themselves, their chances of life in terms of education, employment and access to social amenities. Furthermore, Africans in Diaspora are more likely to be attacked, killed or jailed compared to other races. Above the descendant of Africans in Diaspora are suffering from misplaced identity, because they have not been accepted by the dominant culture. Many are looking back to Africa to retrace their roots and yet Africa does not offer much help apart from that historical connection and continuity. Back home, Africa people are themselves are divided along the ethnic lines and tribal groupings (Akyeampong, 2000).
Slavery was a common practice in Africa even in ancient history. But it took different dimension when the Arabs begun to come on board. The Arabs were the first foreigners to transport hundreds of Africans from their motherland to the Middle East, and the most effected communities from the Northern, Eastern and Southern Africa. However, slavery took another twist with the involvement of European powers in this trade, which led to what is commonly referred to as transatlantic slave trade. This trade facilitated the movement of West and Central Africans to the New world, where they worked as slaves in white men’s homes, plantations farms, mining fields, construction industries and factories.
This paper is written from the author’s view that slaver was an evil trade that caused much suffering to Africans both at home and in Diaspora. It argues that it is by a crime against humanity because it was based on economic greed on the side of slave owners and exploitation of the weak, the slaves themselves. It left negative impact on the psyche of the African mind. It led to destruction of the African cultures, religions and self image. It’s also led to the exploitation of African lands and natural resources with the advent of colonization. Its legacy is still being felt in African societies today, being manifested in terms of poverty and economic exploitation which is still rampart across the continent. At the same, time Africans in Diaspora are facing lots of racial discrimination and marginalization and sometimes subjected to inhuman treatment especially in Western societies. While in Africa, the communities are divided along tribal lines and ethnicity which had to more sufferings, marginalization, horrors of civil wars and political stability. This has led the displacement of Africans from their homes to other parts of the continent and overseas. Africans both at home and Diaspora still bear the marks of slave trade.
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