Some Truth on Slavery Slips Out of Africa

In this article in the BBC, a Nigerian rights group calls for an apology from African tribal chiefs for their role in the slave trade. For far too long, the mythology of slavery was that those “evil white slave traders” went into the jungles of Africa and kidnapped Africans. The facts have always been plainly visible, but popular mythology has had a more powerful influence. Here are a few quotes from the article:

Traditional African rulers should apologise for the role they played in the slave trade, a Nigerian rights group has said in a letter to chiefs.

“We cannot continue to blame the white men, as Africans particularly the traditional rulers, are not blameless,” said the Civil Rights Congress. The letter said some collaborated or actively sold off their subjects. The group said it was time for African leaders to copy the US and the UK who have already said they were sorry.

It urged Nigeria’s traditional rulers to apologise on behalf of their forefathers and “put a final seal to the history of slave trade”, AFP news agency reports.

He said that on behalf of the buyers of slaves, the ancestors of these traditional rulers “raided communities and kidnapped people, shipping them away across the Sahara or across the Atlantic”.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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3 Responses to Some Truth on Slavery Slips Out of Africa

  1. InHisName says:

    This is another very interesting article on the origins of African Trans Atlantic Slavery.

    April 23, 2010
    Op-Ed Contributor
    Ending the Slavery Blame-Game
    Cambridge, Mass.

    You might recognize the Author as he is Mr. Obama’s friend from Harvard the “Beer Summit Professor”

    “While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.

    For centuries, Europeans in Africa kept close to their military and trading posts on the coast. Exploration of the interior, home to the bulk of Africans sold into bondage at the height of the slave trade, came only during the colonial conquests, which is why Henry Morton Stanley’s pursuit of Dr. David Livingstone in 1871 made for such compelling press: he was going where no (white) man had gone before.

    How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.

    Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.

    The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. “The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,” he warned. “We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.”

  2. InHisName says:

    Additional numbers on Slavery per Wikipidia:

    – Human slavery is documented back 11,000 years.

    – Slavery has been global in just about all civilizations at one time or another before the 1900’s.

    – Arab slavery of Africans goes back from at least the 700’s to 1800’s

    – European slavery of Africans is from the 1420’s to the 1810’s

    As Gates has stated, Europeans rarely entered the interior of Africa, due to fierce African resistance. The slaves were brought to coastal outposts where they were traded for goods.

    – An estimated 645,000 were brought to what is now the United States.

    -The white citizens of Virginia decided to treat the first Africans in Virginia as indentured servants. The same status as over half of all European immigrants to Colonial America during the 17th and 18th centuries arrived as indentured servants.

    – Approx 5% of Transatlantic African slaves landed on US shores. We all know 1 slave person is a crime against God’s natural law.

    – Accounting for over 1100 years of African slavery by Arabs, the Indian Ocean – African slave routes it is projected the number of African slaves that came to what is now the US it is less than 1%. Again we all know there is no justification for even a single person being enslaved.

  3. InHisName says:

    After Decades of Black Rulers, Slavery in Africa Going Strong in 2010 – Bishops of Southern Africa: World Cup Cloaks Human Trafficking
    5/28/2010 ROME (

    ” Catholic Bishops of southern African nations are trying to bring global attention to the problem of human trafficking in their region.

    The prelates, collaborating with the group Planet Waves, organized a meeting last week on the phenomenon, which affects an unknown number of people. Four episcopal conferences were represented at the meeting: Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

    It’s estimated 300 people a week enter South Africa illegally from Mozambique alone.

    Trafficking in the region is “complex and is fueled by a wide range of factors and these include poverty, dysfunctional economies, conflicts and demands for cheap labor,” the bishops noted in a communiqué, Fides reported. “The exact number of people who are lured into trafficking in the [area] remains unknown because of the non-availability of official statistics on this scourge.”

    The Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa is formed by the bishops’ conferences of Angola and Sao Tome, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland, Losotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

    The prelates lamented that their governments give too little attention to the problem, though they are aware of it. They acknowledged that the nations lack both human and financial resources to deal with the issue.”

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