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Effects of slave trade

It is important to note that slave trade had both negative and positive effects on the African continents but on the Europeans and Americans the effects were largely positive.

Positive effects of slave trade

  • African chiefs gained European goods, especially guns which they used for their defence.
  • African rulers who obtained guns became more powerful and could capture more slaves
  • Some European traders paid a high price for slaves hence it benefited some Africans.
  • Selling slaves made African chiefs wealthy.
  • Some kingdoms became very wealthy-Dahomey and Ashanti lived by organising slave raids.
  • The slave trade was used by some African leaders as a means of ridding themselves of lawbreakers – as criminals were handed over to slave traders as punishment.

Negative effects

  • The African workforce suffered as a generation of healthy labourers were exported.  The working male population was reduced by 20%.
  • By providing firearms Europeans encouraged and increased warfare and political instability in West Africa.
  • Also, the benefits to be gained from slave trade led to a big increase in raids and kidnapping.
  • Those Africans who could not pay their debts were also at risk of being sold into slavery.
  • Many Africans lived in fear and this affected their economic activities.
  • The destruction of crops and granaries in wars led to starvation.
  • In particular famine was more common because of the lack of labour.
  • 14% of slaves were children under 14, 56% were adult males and 30% were women.
  • There were 2-3 times more men enslaved as women because men could do more heavy labouring on the plantations.
  • Black people seized to be people, they were seen as property
  •  They had no social rights, could not even control their population
  • The Africans lost their religion
  • Slaves  were denied dignity and they were separated from their families in Africa
  • Separation of families as children could be traded away from their parents, as punishment or as standing deals
  • It also resulted in loss of property due to wars.
  • African slaves were enriching others while they remained underdeveloped.