The Atlantic slave trade also known as the transatlantic slave trade was majorly the enslaving and transferring of Africans to work for the colonies in their homelands. The trade was carried out across the Atlantic Ocean and it existed for 3 centuries from 16th to 19th century. The origin of this trade can be traced back to 1500 when social patterns were still a unique feature in the society. The high class people used to force the low class people to work for them to do manual duties and as servants. The rulers were the majority group undermining their juniors. The Americans on the other hand used their natives as slaves to work on large tracks of land but due to constant internal and external attacks and increase in infectious diseases it wipe out a large population of slaves and there was need to replace them urgently so as to work on the farms. They had to import salves from other countries and this lead to international slave trade (Inikori & Engerman, 1992).
Agriculture was the only source of livelihood and the products were then used for commercial purposes. Before long, the westerners arrived in Africa for exploration. They were mainly Europeans and they had goods such as firearms, jewelry, carts. The main form of trade at that time was batter trade and in exchange of their goods, the Europeans wanted slaves. Due to the greed for commercialization and misuse of power, the African kings exchanged their slaves with European goods (Klein, 2010). Other Africans opposing the kings and businessmen also took part in slave trade secretly as competition and as heat back to the kings. The slave traded were mostly captives and prisoners of wars. The kings on the other hand sold those who were troublesome in the society as a way of reducing crimes and disciplining them (Inikori & Engerman, 1992).
After trading with the Africans, the Europeans transported the slaves to America where they were required to work in the plantation fields. The plantations include sugar, cotton, rice, cocoa and other crops. For exchange of slaves, the Americans gave out their farm products which now the Europeans took back to their country. This therefore formed the triangular pattern of trade which was the other name for the Atlantic trade (Klein, 2010).
The Atlantic slave trade transformed African cultures and heritage considerably. If we start with the economic view, you realize that although slavery was not the only form of trade, it manage to penetrate deeply into the society and was the occupation of most African kings. Since most slaves were prisoners and captives the kings and businessmen benefited a lot. They largely commercialize this activity because of the returns they were getting. Historian Walter Rodney stated that by 1770 the king of Dahomey was taking home more than $ 250,000 annually from this trade. Despite these gains by those in authority, the general economic growth of the country was affected negatively since the man power was being taken away. Instead of people concentrating on the economic activities they were on the run and hiding lest they be found and sold as slaves.
Likewise the political and social patterns were also harmed. The kings and rulers were seen as enemies of the people and this created a big drift to the politics of the day. People no longer used to obey their rulers and soldiers live in a state of fear since they could be sold anytime this lead to constant external attacks since the security was weakening at a very high rate. External tribes and neighboring communities were at risk of being attacked. These led to social sub evils and unrest state of the society. Social patterns was also affected so much that you will find only children, women and the old in the society since men were in hiding and only appear at odd hours. Children lack the attention of both parents since when captured and sold as a slave the probability of one returning back was almost zero. The child birth rate was very low and the mortality rate was high due to incurable diseases, external attacks and attacks by wild animals this led to low population (Klein, 1992).
The transatlantic slave trade has both negative and positive effects on different continents. For example those who benefited from the trade are the Europe, America and Asia while Africa was the greatest loser. Africans were exported to work in the fields and do forced labor in the new world. The whites in turn stabilize their economy through the intense agricultural activities which they exported and earn their countries a lot of foreign exchange. The sell of cotton, tobacco, sugar and cocoa improve the economic growth of the new world and its African slaves who were used to do all this activities (Richardson, 2010).
The population strata was also influenced by the slave trade in that while the population of Africans reduced considerably, the population of the new world was increasing because it was a combination of whites and blacks and when you have high population you are assured of enough man power to stimulate economic growth and development. Also due to enough resources in the new world, industrialization developed at a very high speed hence boosting economic growth. Most Africans were displaced by the colonist since other instead of trading alone they came to settle and they force the natives out of their lands, this affected the natural set up of the indigenous communities (Harrold, 2004).
Abolition movement was an anti slave movement that was established with the aim of ending slavery. Religious groups were the first to start this movement since slavery was not conforming to the religious teachings. At the initial stages they faced a lot of opposition since those who were for it thought that their business was going to be affected. Americans and the Europeans were at the forefront in opposing this movement because they were the most beneficiaries of the trade. There were laws created to free and protect the slaves and accord them full rights. The movement was first meant to enslave the natives but finally it was declared that all people were human and expects the same treatment. Though the journey was not easy the religious organization, the Africans and the government teamed up together and fight for the rights of the people by implementing slavery act which tackle all issues relating to slavery (Richardson, 2010).
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