Slave trade: The buying and selling of human beings
Slavery: The state of being enslaved: It’s a system where by some people are owned by others and are forced to work for others without being paid for the work they have done.
It involves capturing, transporting of human beings who become the ‘property’ of the buyer. The slave trade was one of the worst crimes against humanity. It involved burning people's houses capturing them by force,flogging, chaining and walking long distances to the markets once in the market, slaves were sold as you would sell cows, goats, hens and other commodities.The trade was started by Arabs who wanted labour for domestic use and for their plantations. However, they were later joined by Europeans.
The study of slave trade, will help you to appreciate the historical facts that took place e.g. the suffering the people of East Africa went through and how it was overcome to gain freedom, liberty and brotherhood. It will also help you to understand why people behaved the way they did, its consequences for the lives of individuals and how a change of attitudes brought an end to the slave trade.Reasons for the rise of slave trade
During the second half of the 18th century, France opened up larger sugar plantations on the islands of Reunion, Mauritius and in the Indian Ocean. African slaves were thus recruited from East Africa to go and work in those plantations.
Africans were considered physically fit to work in harsh climatic conditions compared to the native red Indians and Europeans. This greatly increased the demand for the indigenous people(slaves).
The increased demand for sugar and cotton in Europe led to their increase in price and therefore more labour (slaves) was needed in the British colonies of West Indies and America.
Strong desire for European goods by African chiefs like Mirambo and Nyungu ya Mawe forced them to acquire slaves in exchange for manufactured goods such as brass, metal ware, cotton cloth, beads, spirits such as whisky, guns and gun powder.
The existence and recognition of slavery in East Africa societies. Domestic and child slavery already existed therefore Africans were willing to exchange slaves for European goods.
The huge profits enjoyed by middlemen like Arab Swahilli traders encouraged the traders to get deeply involved in the trade.
The suitable winds and currents (monsoon winds) which eased transportation for slave traders greatly contributed to the rise of slave trade.
The Legalization of slave trade in 1802 by Napoleon 1 of France increased the demand for slaves in all French Colonies.
The increased number of criminals, war captives, destitutes forced African chiefs to sell them off as slaves.
The Oman Arabs contributed to the rise in the demand for slaves. This is because they acted as middlemen between the African Swahili people,the Portuguese and French traders. They therefore worked very hard to get slaves in order to obtain revenue from them.
The invention of Spanish mines in West indices increased slave demands to work in the mines.
The exodus of slaves from East Africa to Northeast Africa, Arabia and Persia contributed to the increase in the demand for slaves. It led to an enormous number of slaves obtained from East Africa being transported to other countries.
The movement of Seyyid Said’s capital to Zanzibar led to an increase in slave trade. This is because when Seyyid said settled in Zanzibar in 1840, he embarked on strong plans to open up slave trade routes to the interior of East Africa. This boosted slave trade, whereby the number of slaves being sold at the slave market in Zanzibar annually by that time, reached between 40000 and 45000 thousand slaves.
The outbreak of diseases like Nagana led to an increase in slave trade. This is because the beasts of burden (i.e. camels, donkeys, etc) could not be taken on many of the caravan routes. It therefore necessitated people themselves to be involved in the transportation of the trade goods and ivory. Such people included porters who were regarded as slaves, or free Africans who could sell their services in return for cloth and other trade goods.
Development of long distance trade that needed slaves to transport goods from the interior of East Africa.
Plantation farming increased in some areas, especially the clove plantations were slaves worked.
Main peoples involved:
African chiefs e.g. Mirambo and Nyungu yamawe.
They were called Nyamwezi (people of the moon) because they came from the West direction in which the new moon is first seen. Their involvement in slave trade was partly caused by the demand for slaves in the interior. They dealt in ivory,copper,slaves and wax they wanted to acquire commodities like glass, spices, clothes ,mirrors, guns in exchange for slaves.
The Role of chief Mirambo
Mirambo was born around 1830 AD and spent part of his life as a captive of the Tuta Ngoni in Bugoma. He organized a strong army of highly paid mercenaries (ruga ruga) who were the basis of his power.
He established friendly relations with Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda with whom they trade in salt, slaves, iron implements grains and livestock.
He acquired guns from Arab and Swahili traders and this helped him during his empire building process.
He controlled major trade routed in his territory by imposing taxes on traders passing through his area.
Between 1860-1870, Mirambo carried out extensive conquests Vinza and Tongwe and recruited some abled men for his army and sold others in slavery.
Unfortunately, when Mirambo died in 1884, his empire also collapsed because it lacked a military leader as powerful and courageous as him.
The Role of Nyungu Yamawe
The name Nyungu Yamawe was a praise name meaning “Pot of stones” Nyungu was a prince of the Nyungu Yembe ruling family but failed in 1865 after the Arabs had beheaded the Chief Mnwasele.
After the Arabs had beheaded the chief of Nyungu ya mawe was terrified and ran away in 1865 and established himself at Kiwele south from where they systematically attacked and defeated the people of the regions.
His society was strategically located such that he controlled all trading activities along the routes. From the East African coast to Utipa, Tanganyika and other trading activities. This economic progress contributed to his political development.
He conquered people and those who tried to oppose him were punished severely and others sold off as slaves.
Unlike Mirambo ‘s empire that collapsed immediately, Nyungu yamawe ‘s empire went on for many years after his death mainly because of economic organisation and efficient political system he had created.
Nyungu’s rulers took over the collection of ivory from the conquered clients and sent it to him at Kiwele.
He formed a strong centralize administration with his own rulers (vatwale) placed over conquered chiefdoms directly responsible for him.
The role of Akamba
These lived in southern Kenya highlands. Their ancestors lived here as hunters and shifting agriculture when they grew rich, some Kamba communities bought slaves from the coast to do their farming.The YaoThe role of YaoThe Yao were the most active East African slave traders. This was mainly because of the growing demand for slaves at the coast and also the nature of the Yao society. It was the custom for ambitious Yao rulers to increase their power not just by capturing territories but by raiding their neighbours for slaves who then became their personal followers.
The role of Baganda
These lived in the central region of Uganda. Their importance was significant in the commercial life of the region; they traded in Bark cloth, ivory and slaves. They were friendly to Arabs who supplied them with guns that they used to protect and expand their Kingdom.
The role of Khartoumers
These were Egyptians and Sudanese traders who dealt in ivory and slaves. They were semi-official representatives of the Egyptian government with several hundred armed men in their pay.BanyoroBuganda and Bunyoro were enemies, kabaka Mutesa I stopped slave traders from going to Bunyoro. However they dealt in backcloth, slaves and salt.
(Assignment: Draw map of East Africa showing the Eastern slave trade routes.)
The middlemen involved were;
Arab Swahili traders
Ways of obtaining slaves
Selling of domestic slaves in exchange for goods like beads, guns, glass etc
Selling of criminals, debtors and social misfits in society by the local chiefs to the Arab slave traders.
Prisoners of war could be sold off.
Porters were sometimes kidnapped, transported and sold off to the Arab traders.
Raiding villages, this would begin at night with gun shoots and people would scatter consequently leading to their capture.
Through inter tribal wars many Africans become destitutes and these would be captured by the slave traders.
Tax offenders were sold off by the African chiefs.
They were also captured through ambushes during hunting, travelling and gardening.
Slaves would be acquired from the main slave trade market in Zanzibar.
Other Africans are also said to have gone voluntarily in anticipation of great wonders and benefits from the Arab Swahili traders.
MAP OF EAST AFRICA SHOWING TRADE ROUTES
Slave journey: -
Slaves' journey was a difficult one. They moved long distances on foot.
Chained, whipped and sometimes killed on the way.
Had little food and water and experienced extreme suffering.
This is illustrated by a Quotation from Dr. David Livingstone’s Last Journal. London 1878:“We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead …we saw others tied up in a similar manner, and one lying in the path shot or stabbed for she was in a pool of blood. The explanation we got invariably was that the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing the money by the slaves becoming unable to march.”
The main slave market where slaves were auctioned was at Zanzibar.
The journey across the India Ocean was horrible.
Crowded in ships with hardly any space to breath. Ships carried anything from 250 to 600 slaves. They were very over crowded and packed like spoons with no room even to turn.
Whenever they saw anti-slave trade people, slaves would be thrown in the ocean
As a result many died in the process.
Slave life on the plantation or mines
Life was unbearable, slaves worked day and night.
Sanitary conditions were very poor
There were revolts, burning cotton and sugar plantations.
Some slaves temporarily regained their liberty
The song below reflects slave life in plantations
Music: song on the slave trade
Slave! Slave! Slave
!In America,Working day, day and night,Planting sugar, sugar and tea,When I was in America.See my hand,Which was broken,Working day, day and night,Planting sugar, sugar and tea,When I was in America.See my leg……See my back
Effects/Impact of slave trade on people of E. Africa.
New foods were introduced through trade routes like maize, pawpaws, rice, groundnuts both at the coast and in the interior.
Plantation farming increased in some areas, especially the clove plantations were slaves worked.
The interior was opened to the outside world this later encouraged the coming of European missionaries. Many European Christian missionaries came to East Africa to preach against slave trade and to campaign for its abolition.
The trade routes became permanent routes and inland roads which led to growth of communication networks.
Swahili was introduced in land and is now being widely spoken in Tanzania , Kenya ,Uganda and Eastern Congo.
Islam as a religion was introduced by Arabs and it spread , especially in Yao land and in Buganda land.
A new race called Swahili was formed through intermarriages between Arabs and some Africans.
There was growth of Arab towns such as Tabora and Ujiji inland.
There was emergence of dynamic leaders such as Mirambo and Nyungu ya Mawe in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Slave trade strengthened the large and powerful states, which could easily get access to guns at the expense of small ones.
Slave trade led to a situation whereby power became centralised and no longer with the small, local authority (segimentary societies) mainly to enable African chiefs directly control slave trade.
Slave trade encouraged large-scale trade whereby contact was established between the trade masters and indigenous/local population.
Africans were dispersed to other parts of the world e.g Arabia, America and West Indies. In Africa, Sierra-Leone and Liberia were founded to accommodate former slaves from Europe and America.
African population was reduced, people who would have been great leaders and empire builders were killed. It is estimated that over 15 to 30 million people were solded in to slavery while other millions died in the process being transported.
Slave trade brought misery, suffering and lowered the quality of people in East Africa this is because they were reduced to ‘commodities’ which could be bought and sold on land.
Villages and families were destroyed and broken up by slave raiders and never to be reunited this later resulted in to loss of identity.
Diseases broke out among the overcrowded slaves for example the Spaniards introduced Syphilis and soon it spread to other traders.
Slave trade led to displacement of people and many became homeless and destitutemany and stayed in Europe with no identity.
Economic activities such as farming were disrupted. This is because the young and able craftsmen, traders and farmers were carried off, causing economic stagnation as the economic workforce depleted.
Progress slowed down, which resulted in famine, poverty and destitution and helplessness.
There was a decline in production of traditional goods such as coffee, beans, bark cloth and iron which greatly hindered the cash economy.
There was a decline in African industries which also faced a lot of competition from imported manufactured goods for example the Bark cloth and iron working industries.
Guns were introduced into the interior which caused a lot of insecurity and increased incidences of wars for territorial expansion.
Clans and tribal units, languages were broken and inter-tribal peace was disturbed for example swahili language replaced the traditional languages in the interior.
Abolition of slave trade
Reasons why it was difficult to stop slave trade
Slavery existed before in Africa societies that is to say, domestic slavery and internal slave trade, which provided a favourable situation for continuation of the lucrative slave trade.
The Abolition movement which had begun in Britain and her overseas territory first took effect in West Africa. The decline in west African trade encouraged the expansion of trade in East Africa especially with America and West Indies.
Slave trade was difficult to stop because of division of African tribes against each other .This meant that African tribes would find it difficult to unite together and resist the slave traders, who raided their societies using organised bands of men.
Disregard of human life ,many African rulers tended to put less value for the lives of their subjects whom they ruled for example quite often, a ruler of a tribe would easily order his warriors to attack the villages of his subjects and seize their property ,kill some of them .
Active participation and willing cooperation of African chiefs and coastal traders who were making a lot of profits made the slave trade last for so long.
Many European countries depended on the products of slave labour in West Indies and America for example, British industries depended on raw sugar, raw cotton and unprocessed minerals from America which she was not willing to loose.
European slave merchants and Africans involved in the trade were blinded by the huge profits made from the trade.
There was smuggling of slaves outside the forbidden areas. Slave traders would pretend to sail northwards when sighted by British patrol ships but would change course after British navy ships had disappeared.
Other European countries refused to co-operate with Britain to end slave trade because they had not yet become industrialized, and therefore they still benefited from it for example Portugal and Spain.
The only economic alternative of slave trade was Agriculture which was not reliable compared to the booming slave trade.
The anti slavery campaign was too expensive for Britain alone to compensate slave owners.
Factors that led to the abolition of slave trade
It was the British government that began the abolition of the slave trade during the years,1822 - 1826 . This was because of the pressure by various groups based on different factors;
Rise of humanitarians in Europe such as Christians and scholars condemned it on moral grounds. The missionaries wanted it to be stopped because they wanted good conditions for the spread of Christianity. The formation of the humanitarian movements in England aimed at stopping all kinds of cruelty including slave trade, flogging of soldiers and child labour.
Industrialization in Britain was one of the main forces behind the abolition .E.g. Britain industrialists urged its abolition because they wanted Africans to be left in Africa so that Africa can be a source of raw materials for their industries, market for European manufactured goods and a place for new investment of surplus capital.
Formation of Anti-slavery movement and the abolitionist movement in 1787. Its chairman was Granville Sharp and others like Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce who gathered facts and stories about the brutality of slave trade and slavery to arouse public opinion in Britain.
Religious revival in Europe, Anglicans preached and condemned slave trade as being opposed to laws of God and humanity. Catholic popes also protested against the trade and prohibited it. In 1774, many religious leaders served as examples when they liberated their slaves in England.
The French revolution of 1789 and the American revolution of 1776 emphasized liberty, equality and fraternity(brotherhood) of all human beings. As a result, people began to question whether anyone had a right to deprive fellow man of his liberty when he had done wrong.
The British desire to protect their national interests, British planters wanted slave trade stopped to avoid competition with other European planters .This is because other planters were producing cheaper sugar ,British sugar accumulated hence the need to stop over production.
The rise of men with new ideas e.g. Prof. Adam Smith(challenged the economic arguments which were the basis of slave trade when he argued convincingly that hired labour is cheaper and more productive than slave labour, Rousseau spread the idea of personal liberty and equality of all men.
Slaves had become less profitable and yet had led to over population in Europe.
Influential abolitionists like William Wilberforce( a British member of parliament ) urged the British government to legislate against the slave trade in her colonies.
The ship owners stopped transporting slaves from Africa and began transporting raw materials directly from Africa and America to Europe ,which led to a decline in slave trade.
Steps in the abolition of slave trade
The movement to abolish slave trade started in Britain with the formation of Anti-slavery movement. The British government abolished the slave trade through anti slave laws (Legislation), treaties and use of force.
The Anti – slavery movement was led by Granville sharp, other members were Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce and others.
The first step was taken in 1772 when slavery was declared illegal and abolished in Britain. The humanitarians secured judgment against slavery from the British court.
In 1807, British parliament outlawed slave trade for British subjects.
1817 British negotiated the “reciprocal search treaties” with Spain and Portugal.
Equipment treaties signed with Spain 1835 Portugal 1842 and America 1862.
In E. Africa in 1822 Moresby treaty was signed between Captain Moresby and Sultan Seyyid Said it forbade the shipping of slaves outside the sultan’s territories. British ships were authorized to stop and search suspected Arab slave-carrying dhows.
In 1845, Hamerton treaty was signed between Colonel Hamerton and Sultan Seyyid Said. It forbade the shipping of slaves outside the Sultan‘s East African possessions, i.e, beyond Brava to the north.
In 1871 the British set up a parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate and report on slave trade in E. Africa.
In 1872 Sir Bartle Frere persuaded Sultan Barghash to stop slave trade but not much was achieved.
On 5th March 1873, the Sultan passed a decree prohibiting the export of slaves from main land and closing of slave market at Zanzibar. Zanzibar slave market was to be closed within 24 hours.
1876 the Sultan decreed that no slaves were to be transported overland.
1897 decree left slaves to claim their freedom themselves
1907 ,slavery was abolished entirely in Zanzibar and Pemba.
In 1927, slavery ended in Tanganyika when Britain took over from Germany after the 2nd world war.
Effects of abolition of slave trade
The suppression of slave trade led to loss of independence that is to say, it confirmed among the Arabs and Swahilis that the Sultan had lost independence over the East African coast, and that he was now a British puppet .
The suppression of slave trade led to development and growth of legitimate trade which provided equally profitable business to both Europeans and African traders. Many ship owners diverted their ships from transporting slaves to transporting raw cotton and raw sugar from Brazil and America.
It accelerated the coming of European missionaries to East Africa who emphasized peace and obedience thus the later European colonization of East Africa.
Disintegration of the sultan Empire. This is because it loosened the economic and political control which the sultan had over the East African nations .His empire in E.A. therefore began to crumble .This gave opportunity to other ambitious leaders like Tippu-Tip to create an independent state in Manyema ,where he began selling his ivory and slaves to the Belgians in Zaire.
The abolition of slave trade was a catalyst to the partition of East Africa where by Britain took over Kenya, Zanzibar and Uganda and Germany took over Tanganyika.
Slave trade markets were also closed foe example Zanzibar in 1873 following the frere treaty signed between Sultan Bargash and Bantle Frere.
Islam became unpopular as many converted to Christianity.
African societies regained their respect and strength as they were no longer sold off as commodities.
The Slave Trade in East Africa
Examine the pictures of the slave trade below. Try to imagine how you would feel if you were captured as a slave and transported to a foreign land. Slaves were soon to realise they would never return to their home villages. How would this affect you, your families and communities?Act out the play on Slave Agony.After the play there are some issues for you to investigate.PICTURES OF THE SLAVE TRADE