He claims that the East African slave trade had been continuous and massive since antiquity on the coast and began trading in the interior. This educational resource consists of 16 sets of resources on African Furthermore, since these early times, the people of the coast have looked but because it represents an important aspect of Africa's relationship with the world, The wealth of Kilwa depended on trade in timber, ivory and other goods from the interior. The caravan trade of the nineteenth century opened up the interior, bringing many African peoples into the world economy as suppliers of ivory or slaves or.
By they were in Luvale and Lozi country and were penetrating the southern Congo forests. The more sparse, agricultural Ovambo peoples to the south also were drawn into the ivory trade. Initially trading in salt, copper, and iron from the Etosha Pan region to the north, and supplying hides and ivory to Portuguese traders, the Ovambo largely had been able to avoid the slave trade that ravaged their more populous neighbours.
By the mid 19th century the advent of firearms led to a vast increase in the volume of the ivory trade, though the trade collapsed as the elephants were nearly exterminated by the s.
With the firearms acquired through the trade, Ovambo chiefs built up their power, raiding the pastoral Herero and Nama people in the vast, arid region to their south.
The continuation of the slave trade British antislavery patrols drove the slave trade east, where ivory had been more significant. The flow of slaves was augmented by turmoil in the interior of Southern Africa and by slaves captured by the Chikunda soldiers of the Zambezi warlords; by the s rival Zambezi armies were competing to control the trade routes to south-central Africa.
The most important area of slave raiding appears to have been in Malawi and northeastern Zambiawhere predatory overlords devastated a wide area from bases in the Congo. To the east of Lake Nyasathe Yao —keen ivory traders from the 17th century—turned to slave raiding, obtaining firearms from the Arabs, subjugating the Chewa agriculturalists, and building up powerful polities under new commercial and military leaders.
Displaced from northern Mozambique by the Ngoni in the 19th century, the Yao in turn pressured the Manganja peoples of the Shire Highlands. The Bemba also were able to increase their power through the slave and ivory trade, raiding the loosely organized Maravi peoples to the west of the lake from their stockaded villages on the infertile Zambian plateau. Although they never became large-scale slave traders, preferring instead to incorporate their captives, the Ngoni invaders added to the turmoil.
While the first European observers probably exaggerated the extent of the depopulation, the political geography of the region was transformed as people moved into stockaded villages and towns and began to raid one another for captive women to work the fields while the men engaged in warfare. Vast numbers of people, especially women, were torn from their social settings, and earlier divisions based on kin came to matter less than new relationships between patron and client, protector and protected.
British pressure on the sultan of Zanzibar to ban the slave trade was easily circumventedand, though the abolition treaty forced on the Zanzibaris in was more effective, the reduced coastal demand for slaves led to even more ruthless methods in the interior of east-central Africa; slaves were no longer needed for export and thus were exploited locally.
East coast Arabs began to play a much more active role in the interior. Initially operating through local chiefs, they came to exercise wide military and political jurisdiction over the northern routes from strategically placed commercial centres; many of these became slave-based plantations.
Effects of the slave trade It is not possible to compile an exact balance sheet of the devastation caused to Southern Africa by the slave trade, and historians differ in their estimation of the numbers involved and of the extent of the damage inflicted.
In the 17th century some 10, to 12, slaves were exported annually from Luanda. Although this figure includes captives from both north and south of the bay, it does not include those smuggled out to escape official taxation. In the 18th century about a third of the slaves exported to the Americas probably came from Angola. The figure probably represents a relatively small proportion of the total population of a huge area in any one year, but it was a significant proportion of economically active adults.
The better-watered regions may have recouped their population losses within a couple of generations, supported by the introduction of new food crops such as manioc and corn maizewhich the Portuguese imported from South America.
Nevertheless, the effects of the slave trade were, in social terms, incalculable. Accounts of Ndongo as rich and populous in the 16th century gave way to lamentations about its desolation in the 17th. The processes of border raids, wars of conquest, and civil strife, which affected the Ndongo and then the kingdoms of the Kwango River valley in the 17th century, were repeated to the south and east in the course of the 18th century as the slave frontier expanded.
The ending of more overt violence as the slave frontier moved on left the weak—women, children, and the poor—vulnerable to innumerable personal acts of kidnapping and betrayal, a process exacerbated by the indebtedness of local traders to coastal merchants and the dependence of the traders on the transatlantic economy. Although the rubber trade was successful in the short term, excessive collection of wild rubber destroyed an irreplaceable natural resource, while new concentrations of population upset the ecological balance of a drought-prone environment.
As yet, however, there seems little evidence for extensive slave trading south of Quelimane until the s, and the slave trade from Inhambane and Delagoa Bay remained paltry until —44; the trade from these ports thus seems more a consequence than a cause of the wars.
Demand for cattle and ivory at Delagoa Bay seems rather more important in the emergence, by the late 18th century, of a number of larger states in the hinterland of Delagoa Bay. Trade gave chiefs new ways of attracting followers, while elephant hunting and cattle raiding honed military organization. In the early 19th century, however, the number of European ships calling at Delagoa Bay appears to have contracted, and this may have increased competition for the cattle and ivory trade.
Together with a series of devastating droughts in —03,and —18this competition may better account for the debilitating wars in which the larger northern Nguni chiefdoms in Zululand were embroiled by the second decade of the century; indeed, oral sources attribute the first battles to conflicts over land.
These battles occurred even before the rise of the Zulu king Shakawhom an early historiography holds almost solely responsible for turmoil as far afield as the Cape Colony, Tanzaniaand western Zambia. Shaka and the creation of the Zulu Shaka, who until about was subject to the Mthethwa king, was thus the heir to, rather than the originator of, the intensified warfare in Zululand.
Nevertheless, his military brilliance led to the emergence of the Zulu as the most important power in southeastern Africa. Within a few years Shaka had consolidated the numerous chiefdoms between the Tugela and Pongola rivers into a centralized military state. However, divisions within the royal family culminated in his assassination in Shaka, lithograph by W. Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J. There Sobhuza established the new conquest state of Swaziland named for his successor, Mswati.
Zwide himself retired, but his generals fled northward. Clashing with one another and with the peoples in their path, the Ndwandwe or Ngoni, as they became known eventually established military states in northern Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania, while the Ndwandwe general Soshangane established the extensive Gaza kingdom in south-central Mozambique. At its height, the Gaza kingdom stretched between the Zambezi and the Komati rivers; Soshangane engaged in slave trading with the Portuguese and reduced neighbouring Shona to tributary status.
Adding greatly to the social dislocation of east-central Africa, Ngoni movements were dictated by the need to avoid more powerful African polities and to find new food resources after local cattle and crops had been exhausted through their raids. Within their military states, the Ngoni aristocracy monopolized cattle, incorporated the women and children of conquered peoples, and exacted tribute from those whom they were unable to permanently subdue.
Increasing violence in other parts of Southern Africa As in eastern Africawhere violence intersected with the intensifying activities of slave raiders, so in Southern Africa the violence of this period is multifactorial and needs to be more closely analyzed. Warfare among the northern Ngoni preceded the expansion of the Zulu kingdom, and its rise does not sufficiently explain the violence in the hinterland of the Cape Colony. There the destructiveness of the settler presence was increasingly felt from the mid 18th century, as displaced groups of Khoisan and escaped slaves, carrying with them the commando system and the guns—and sometimes also the religion and the genes—of the white man, fled beyond the confines of the colony.
In central and northwestern South Africa and southern Namibia these heterogenous groups of people, known variously as BastersGriquaKorana, Bergenaars, and Oorlamscompeted for land and water with the Tswana and Nama communities and traded for or raided their ivory and cattle in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. By the s the extension of the firearms frontier was disrupting the Orange River valley and intensifying conflict between the Sotho-Tswana chiefdoms beyond. The Mfengu and the Mantatee The upheaval affected the southern chiefdoms and rebellious tributaries attacked by Shaka as far away as Pondoland.
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Many of the refugees fled either into the eastern Cape or west onto the Highveld, although their precise number is a matter of dispute. In both areas the arrival of the refugees added to upheavals of very different origin.
The Mfengu, as the refugee population was known in the Cape, included in their ranks starving Xhosa victims of the —35 frontier war, while the Mantatee or Fetcani as the displaced population was known in the interior were probably largely the product of labour raids by Griqua and Korana allies of frontier farmers. Moshoeshoe Others shattered by the dual impact of the wars emanating from Zululand and the activities of labour raiders from the south scrambled to safety in the mountain fortresses of what is now Lesotho.
There Moshoeshoethe Koena leader, built a new kingdom at Thaba Bosiudefeating and then incorporating his main rivals. Moshoeshoe quickly appreciated the utility of firearms and horses in the new warfare and of missionaries as diplomatic intermediaries.
Shrewd diplomatic marriages extended his sway, and by the mid 19th century he had attracted some 80, followers, based on his ability to provide them with cattle and protection.
Mzilikazi Other dislodged Highveld peoples joined the Griqua polities along the Orange River or continued raiding along the Vaal and into the western Transvaal region, where the disorders prepared the way for the coming of Mzilikazi.
Over the next 15 years Mzilikazi created a 20,strong raiding kingdom in east-central South Africa by absorbing local Sotho-speaking peoples into his regiments.
Nevertheless, he was constantly harried by Griqua raiders from the south, Zulu armies from the east, and the Pedi kingdom, which was establishing itself as the most formidable power in the northeastern Transvaal region. Inharassed by his many enemies and defeated by expanding white farmers from the Cape Colony, Mzilikazi retreated across the Limpopo into southwestern Zimbabwe.
There Mzilikazi established himself relatively easily, for the Shona polities were ill-prepared for the new form of warfare and were already weakened by the earlier incursions of the Ngoni and by drought. As in northeastern South Africa, the local populace was absorbed into Ndebele age-set regiments; a castelike society evolved, with the original Ngoni on top, Sotho in the middle, and Shona at the bottom. The relationships that the Ndebele established with groups beyond their immediate settlement ranged from friendly alliances to the regular exaction of tribute and random raiding.
The Kololo Yet another group dislodged by the warfare of this time, the composite Sotho group known as the Kololo, made its mark in west-central Africa. Defeated in warfare among the western Tswana, about Sebetwane led his followers across the Zambezi into northwestern Zambia. There they conquered the Lozi kingdom, which had been built up in the 18th century, and then dominated western Zambia. The Kololo triumph was short-lived, however; by the ravages of malaria, the accession of a weak and diseased king, and the revival of Lozi royal fortunes put an end to their hegemony.
Nevertheless, a variant of Sotho is still the language of the region. British development of the Cape Colony Britain occupied the Cape Colony at the turn of the 19th century. During the Napoleonic Wars the Cape passed first to the British —then to the Batavian Republic —06and to the British again in The displacement of Dutch East India Company rule by an imperial state in the early stages of its industrial revolution greatly expanded local opportunities for trade and increased demands for labour, just as the slave trade was abolished in the British Empire.
It was initially a crown colony governed by an autocratic governor, whose more extreme powers were modified by the presence in Cape Town of an articulate middle class and by the arrival in of some 5, British settlers. These groups demanded a free press, an independent legal system, the rooting out of corruption, and more representative institutions.
Changes in the status of Africans In the Cape gained full responsible government. The colour-blind franchise was retained but came under increasing attack.
As a strategy for incorporating the more prosperous black peasants and artisans, it had been supported by white merchants, professionals, and officials.
With the annexation of African territories and the creation of a mass black working class, however, it proved vulnerableand in and the franchise qualifications were changed in order to restrict the number of black voters.
Initially, imperial protection expanded Cape wheat and wine production, while the British did little to alter existing social and property relations. Despite their formal equality before the law, however, newly emancipated slaves received only modest protection, from the handful of mission stations, against exploitative and often brutal conditions. Although the underclass received only limited benefits, the British land and labour policies—together with a restructuring of local government—threatened many Afrikaners.
Their exodus was to become the central saga of 20th-century Afrikaner nationalism.
Beyond the confines of the colony, they established separate republics in Natal, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal, outflanking the Xhosa along the southeast coast, where the British were confronted by a series of interlocking crises.
Continuing settler- Xhosa wars The first of these crises had erupted in shortly after the British first occupied the Cape. This was the third war between settlers and Xhosa in the Zuurveld and coincided with a mass uprising of Khoisan in Graaff-Reinet. Although peace was restored inthe Xhosa remained in the Zuurveld until British troops drove them east of the Great Fish River in —12; subsequent near-constant skirmishing again exploded into war in —l9, —35, and l For most of the century the Cape was dependent on British troops for its defense and for the further conquest of African territory.
By mid century the western Xhosa were formidable foes who used firearms and adopted guerrilla tactics. Thus, the eighth war —53 was the most drawn-out and costly of all.
In the end, it was not British arms or settler prowess that defeated the Xhosa but internal tensions resulting from the activities of white traders, missionaries, and settlers. These pressures were increased by the confiscation of Xhosa land and cattle, the apportionment after each war of captives as labour to settlers, the arrival of refugees from wars beyond their frontiers, and the expansion of commercial sheep farming, which was the most important sector of the Cape economy by the s.
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In the internally divided Xhosa, exhausted by years of attritionin the midst of severe drought and cattle disease, and undermined by the aggressive policies of the British governor Sir George Greyturned to millenarian prophecies. They slaughtered their cattle and destroyed their crops in the belief that doing so would raise their ancestors from their graves and drive the whites into the sea. When the awaited salvation failed to materialize, some 30,—40, Xhosa streamed across the frontier to seek work in the colony.
An equal number died of starvation. Although Xhosa farther east fought the colonists again in andthe slaughter of the cattle marked the end of Xhosa political and economic integrity. Thereafter the annexation of the remaining African territories proceeded peacefully, if piecemeal. The last of the independent kingdoms to pass into Cape hands was Pondolandin Growth of missionary activity From the end of the 18th century, European missionaries were crucial in the transformation of African society at the Cape.
With Christianity came Victorian notions of civilization and progress. Progress meant that Africans produced agricultural products for export and entered into the labour market. The first converts in the Cape were the Khoisan, in the east and north, and the Griqua, who by the s had formed a series of independent if schismatic states in the Vaal-Orange confluence.
The neighbouring Sotho-Tswana communities were also early sites of missionary activity. The most notable of the Tswana converts were the Ngwatounder the king Khama III reigned —who established a virtual theocracy among his people and was perhaps the most acclaimed Christian convert of his day, while in the eastern Cape the Mfengu were in the forefront of mission activity and peasant enterprise.
In the second half of the 19th century, increasing numbers of Xhosa also turned to Christianity. In Zululand and on the Highveld the missionaries both preceded and paved the way for white settlers and were sometimes their fiercest critics. Initially Christianity tended to advance most rapidly among the disaffected and dispossessed, and especially among women, with those who depended on the slave trade less enthusiastic. It was usually only after a major disaster undermined their belief systems that considerable numbers of men turned to the new religion.
By inculcating individualism and encouraging the stratification that was to lead so many of their converts onto the colonial labour markets, the missionaries attacked much that was central to African society and developed an ideology to accompany colonial subordination. The first European missionaries to south-central Africa, inspired by Livingstone, set up their Universities Mission in In the Free Church of Scotland established the Livingstonia Mission in his memory, while the established Church of Scotland began work among the Yao at Blantyre the following year.
From Lake Nyasa the Scottish missions spread inland to northeastern Zambia and were followed by a large number of representatives of other Christian denominations in the last decades of the century.
By the last quarter of the 19th century, European missionaries and African evangelists of almost every denomination were working among the peoples of Southern Africa, eroding chiefly authority and inculcating the new values and practices of the colonial world but also bringing new modes of resistance and educating many Christian Africans who later became outspoken critics of colonialism. The expansion of white settlement If the expansion of white settlement under the British led to a vast expropriation of African land and labour, it also led to a rapid expansion of unequal trading relations.
Black-white exchange existed in the frontier zone from the early 18th century. The Republic of Natalia and the British colony of Natal The establishment of trekker republics in Natal and on the Highveld greatly expanded the frontiers of white settlement. The Voortrekkershowever, did not display any sense of national unity, and the parties soon fell out and set off in different directions.
The trekkers enjoyed some spectacular successes as a result of their firearms, horses, and use of ox-wagons to form laagers protected encampmentsas well as their strategic alliances with African chiefdoms; they found it far more difficult to establish permanent hegemony over the region.
Victory over the Zulu at the Battle of Blood River on December 16,and divisions in the Zulu kingdom enabled the establishment of the short-lived Republic of Natalia, bounded to the north by the still-powerful Zulu kingdom and to the south by the Mpondo. Inhowever, the British, anxious to control the sea route to India, fearful of trekker negotiations with foreign powers, and concerned that trekker raids would spread to the eastern frontier, annexed Natal, leaving the Zulu kingdom north of the Tugela River independent until its disintegration in the civil wars that followed its defeat by the British army in For most of the 19th century, British Natal was surrounded by powerful African states and was heavily outnumbered by Africans within the colony.
Constitutional development in Natal was slower and more erratic than in the Cape; colonists received responsible government only in Unlike the Cape, Natal never had a viable nonracial franchise: Absentee landowners bought up land claimed and vacated by the Voortrekkers and extracted rent from African producers, hoping increased white immigration would raise land prices.
Like the weak colonial administration, the absentees were anxious to avoid the conflict that would have resulted from the expropriation of land occupied by Africans demanded by smaller settler-farmers. When in sugar was exploited successfully for the first time, indentured labour had to be brought from India to do the arduous work, because Africans—many of whom still had their own land and cattle—refused to work for the low wages offered on the plantations.
By the last decades of the 19th century, however, a land shortage and high taxes had forced large numbers of Africans to seek work in colonial labour markets.
Voortrekker republics in the interior With the British annexation of Natal, most of the Voortrekkers rejoined their compatriots on the Highveld, where separate communities had been established in Transorangia the region across the Orange River and the western and northeastern Transvaal. Apart from a brief period in the mid 19th century, the British left them alone, controlling external trade and security threats through the coastal colonies. On the Highveld the Voortrekkers entered a vibrant and complex African world.
To ensconce themselves in the interior, they fought major wars and established a series of accommodations with those Africans whom they were unable to conquer. Compared with the British colonies, the racially exclusive republics between the Vaal, Hartz, and Limpopo rivers were weak members of the world economy, dependent on cattle ranching and hunting. In the more heavily wooded area near the equator, farmers raised yams, palm products, or plantains. The savanna areas yielded crops including rice, millet, and sorghum.
Map of West African societies pre-colonization. Wikimedia commons courtesy of Wikimedia commons. Although there were large trading centers along the rivers—the Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Volta, and Congo—most West Africans lived in small villages and identified primarily with their extended family or clan, rather than an ethnic or national identity.
Wives, children, and dependents were a sign of wealth; men frequently practiced polygyny, or the custom of having more than one wife.
African societies and the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade (article) | Khan Academy
In times of need, West Africans relied on relatives from near and far for support. Hundreds of separate dialects emerged from different west African clans; in modern Nigeria, nearly languages are still spoken. African societies practiced human bondage long before the Atlantic slave trade began.
Famine or fear of stronger enemies might force one tribe to ask another for help and give themselves in bondage in exchange for assistance.
Similar to the European serf systemthose seeking protection or relief from starvation would become the servants of those who provided relief. Debt might also be worked off through some form of servitude. Furthermore, prisoners of war between different African societies oftentimes became enslaved.
- African societies and the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade
Typically, these servants became a part of the extended tribal family. There is some evidence of chattel slavery, in which people were treated as personal property, in the Nile Valley.
It appears there was a slave-trade route through the Sahara that brought sub-Saharan Africans to Rome, a global center of slavery. West Africans transported to the coast to be sold into slavery. Wikimedia Commons Religion and the African empire Religious movement helped shape African societal structure. Following the death of the prophet Muhammad in CE, Islam spread quickly across North Africa, bringing not only a unifying faith but a political and legal structure as well.
Only those who had converted to Islam could rule or be engaged in trade. The first major empire to emerge in West Africa was the Ghana Empire. Bythe Soninke farmers of the region had become wealthy by taxing traders who traversed their area. For instance, the Niger River basin supplied gold to the Berber and Arab traders from west of the Nile Valley, who brought cloth, weapons, and manufactured goods into the African interior.
Soon, however, a new kingdom emerged. Miners then discovered huge new deposits of gold east of the Niger River.