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The Impact of
WHY IT MATTERS NOW
The slave trade and colonialism destroyed traditional cultures and social systems in Africa south of the Sahara.
Africa is still recovering from the effects of the slave trade and colonialism.
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Africa Before the Europeans
Movement • Enslaved
Africans were forced to wear shackles like these. ᭡
Before Europeans came, Africans had varied ways of life under different kinds of governments. Kings ruled great empires like
Mali and Songhai. Some states had democratic rule. Some groups had no central government. Some Africans lived in great cities like Timbuktu, while others lived in small villages deep in the forests. Some were nomadic hunters, and some were skilled artists who sculpted masks and statues of wood, gold, or bronze.
Africa South of the Sahara: Geography and History
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The Slave Trade
Slavery existed in Africa long before Europeans arrived. Rulers in
Mali and Songhai had thousands of slaves who worked as servants, soldiers, and farm workers. Villages raided one another to take captives and sell them. Often, a slave could work to earn his or her freedom. In the 1400s, however, Europeans introduced a form of slavery that devastated African life and society.
From Africa to the Americas In the early 15th century,
European traders began to sell slaves. They raided towns to capture unwilling Africans. Some Africans captured in wars were sold to European traders by other Africans. One estimate is that 10 to
12 million Africans were forced into slavery and sent to European colonies in North and South America from 1520 to 1860. Many more were captured but died of disease or starvation before arriving. About 1750, movements to stop the slave trade had begun. By
1808, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Denmark had made it illegal to bring in slaves from Africa. However, it would take longer for countries to make owning a slave illegal.
Conditions on slave ships were so bad that about
16 percent of slaves died during transport.
Impact on Africa In addition to the Africans captured and sold, many were killed during raids. About two-thirds of those taken were men between the ages of 18 and 30. Slave traders chose young, strong, healthy people, leaving few behind to lead families and villages. African cities and towns did not have enough workers. Family structures were destroyed.
African Slave Trade, 1520–1860
Interpreting a Map
1. Region • From what part of the African
continent were most enslaved Africans taken? 2. 0°Region • Name three destinations of
OCEAN enslaved Africans.
Benin Bight of
Slave trade route
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Revolution, inventions increased