Slave Trade In The Indian Ocean
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Slave Trade In The Indian Ocean
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Post Icon Slave Trade In The Indian Ocean


What is Slave Trade?
It is the process of selling and buying human being as commodities in the market. Slave trade along the East Africa coast began before the 18th century. The Portuguese took slaves to America and to the French sugar and coffee plantations in Mauritius and Reunion Island in 1770’s.

Expansion of the Indian Ocean Slave trade
Slavery was practiced since the ancient times in Africa, in East Africa slave trade was introduced during trade contact with the Middle East and Far East. Slaves were used as farm laborers, worked for domestic activities, servants and guards or soldiers.

  • The Oman Arabs who were ruling the East African coast at that time introduced cloves plantations in Unguja and Pemba.
  • There was high demand for the slave labor for the French sugar plantations in Mauritius and Reunion Island.
  • Slaves were needed as porters. They ferried goods such as Ivory and Gold from interior of African to the coast.
  • Portuguese slaves’ traders supplied slaves to the Portuguese coffee and sugar plantations in Brazil.
  • Slaves were in Great demand as domestic workers and soldiers in Muslim nations of Arabia
    There were major slave markets in Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, Pemba, Kilwa, Mikindani and Mombasa.
The Indian Ocean slave trade is greatly attributed the Oman rules, Particulary Sultan Seyyid Said who pioneered the Trade in the 18th century. Seyyid Said came to power in Oman in 1806 after seizing power with the help of the British East India Company. The company asked him to take control of the East Africa coast for fear that the French might take over the region.
Seyyid Said used force to conquer the East African coast between 1813 and 1825, He conquered most of the coastal States including Tanga, Mtang’ata and Pemba.

  • Zanzibar had fertile soil that could support agricultural activities, especially cultivation of cloves and coconuts.
  • Zanzibar is at a central and strategically place for the Indian Ocean trade.
  • Zanzibar had good natural harbors with deep water where ships could anchor.
  • Zanzibar is an Island so it could be defended easily
  • Seyyid Said wanted to administer the Coastal city state more effectively.
  • Zanzibar had a favorable climate fresh water and plenty of rainfall.
  • Zanzibar had always been loyal to Oman. It had never rebelled like other city states.
It is said that the first person to plant cloves in Zanzibar was Salehe Bin Haramili El Abry. He planted the trees in Mtoni and Kizimbani in 1818. Seyyid Said saw cloves as a potentially profitable export. He encouraged the expansions in Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar produced over 90% of the world total production. Cloves were mostly exported to Europe, Asia and America. They were used in the Manufacture of cosmetics and medicines.
          Zanzibar major exports were cloves, ivory and slaves while imported clothes, rice, beads, gun powder and glasses.
  • Raiding weak communities, Arabs and Swahili slave traders often rained villages burning houses and capturing people.
  • Through ambush Slaves traders ambushed unsuspecting people such as travelers, small groups of travelers
  • Buying of unwanted elements in society, Chiefs sold off people who were not wanted to the society for various reasons. These people included criminals, very poor people and those who could not repay their debts.
  • Buying of prisoners of war, after inter community wars prisoners of war were sold to slave traders.
  • Organize by local chiefs, some African chiefs were notorious for capturing slaves and organizing their own trade caravan to the coast. They exchanged these slaves for various goods form the coastal traders.
This was the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean. This was also referred as “The Triangular Trade” This was because of the nature of route at took the trade operated because of the coast of West Africa, America and Europe then back to Africa.
Slaves were exported to America to work in Plantations of Sugar, tobacco, cotton and coffee and various mines. America produced raw materials for Industries in Europe after the raw materials for Industries in Europe manufactured goods such as textile fabrics, food and alcohol in Europe, some were sent back to America to sub sites the slave owning communities while the low quality goods were shipped to Africa to be exchanged for slaves.
COMMODITIES IN THE TRIANGULAR TRADE#000000 solid;margin:15px;width:95%;">[td]




Goods Obtained
Slaves, Gold, Ivory, Animal skin and precious Minerals
Cotton, Sugar, tobacco, Gold,Silver
Manufactured goods, clothes, wine, glasses, and gun powder.
Factors That Stimulated the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
  1. Discovery of New world, After the Discovery of America, European colonized large plantations of sugar coffee, coffee, cotton and tobacco in these regions. They also established gold and silver mines so slave labour was needed run all these projects.
  2. Gold Trade from West Africa, at the time of Trans-Atlantic trade, it stimulated slave labor because slaves were used to transport gold from the Interior of West Africa to the coast of West Africa from where it was sent to overseas.
  3. Settlement of Portuguese, Sao Tome and surrounding island had large sugar plantations and hence needed a lot of labour. The Slave labor that worked on these Island came from the interior of West Africa.
  4. Advanced of Naval Technology, Europeans had well developed maritime technology. They had ship that could carry cargos for a long distance so it was easy for the transportation of large quantity over a long distance

Social Effects
  • Many people died during slave raids others were sent abroad as slaves
  • Many people separated from their families forever
  • Frequent raids and ambushes made people to live in fear.
  • Spread of Swahili language to interior parts of East and Central Africa.
Political Effects
  • Some states declined as their subjects were captured and sold as slaves.
  • Some strong states grew as a results of wealth accumulated from slave trade.
  • The role of some rulers in some communities changed from protectors to prosecutors of their own people.
Economic Effects
  • The subsistence economic that existed priors to the slave trade was destroyed.
  • Africa lost its strong and valuable people due to slave trade.
  • Production declined since there was little man power and people left were afraid to go out and work.
  • New items of low quality were introduced to Africa from the outside world.
02-15-2017 01:50 PM
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RE: Slave Trade In The Indian Ocean

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05-25-2017 09:50 AM
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