Slave Trade Depopulation of Africa
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The African slave trade, more specifically the Trans Atlantic slave trade as opposed to the East Indian, (although both served western ideals) robbed the continent of its most natural, essential and irreplaceable asset: its human resources. Those who were captured, shipped, and sold in the Americas were raped of their family, their language, their history, their culture, their ethnicity, the very names they carried and their pride for their homeland. Families were separated before even leaving their homeland, and many perished on their way to the вЂ?New WorldвЂ™. Those who survived faced a struggle in a new country that would persists until this day and throughout, a struggle only comparable perhaps to those in Africa who stayed.
The African slave trade was by no means a true manner of trade. It was trickery, banditry, kidnapping, and war waging that was used in the capture and selling of slaves in Africa to the Americas. Many of those capturing slaves were warriors under the direction of African rulers who traded captives for beads, cheap gin, cheap gunpowder, cheap cloth, and other low quality goods that did little to benefit people. The trade was quite unbalanced; Europe and the United States still stand on legs that stretch deep into money acquired through the slave trade, while Africa has only regrets and problems rooted in the heart of the slave trade.
Due to a lack of information concerning AfricaвЂ™s population and population density up to the 19th century , the numerous illegal ships of undocumented slaves smuggled to the Americas, and the amount of slaves who died along the passage between slavehouse to ship, or died during the passage from port to port, there is no certainty in how many Africans were taken captive and killed during the Trans Atlantic slave trade. Numbers have been proposed that range between a few to one hundred million from 1445 to 1870. Current theories (during WaltersвЂ™ times) suggest 10 million arrived in the New World, a number understated in hopes of whitewashing the atrocities of the slave trade, but even 10 million has drastic consequences. The vast majority of those taken represented what Africa could not afford to lose: its future.
The slave trade robbed Africa of its healthiest able bodied young men and women. The preferred age for a slave was 15-35, the most desirable was early twenties. Often even younger African children were taken. While the rest of the world grew exponentially in population during the trade, AfricaвЂ™s population is believed to have remained stagnant from 1650 to 1850. This is due to the loss of young adults responsible for reproduction. Population growth played a large part of the development of European markets, as well as the development of pre-capitalist societies in Asia. AfricaвЂ™s low population density capped its potential for the natural growth many other regions experienced.
While many African rulers no doubt engaged in the trading of slaves for what they perceived as their own self-interest, all rationality shows how disastrous it was for African societies. Economic activity and growth was negatively affected by the loss in population. As the continentsвЂ™ density was depleted, the remains of many ethnic groups were forced to leave their homes due to an inability to fight certain diseases and perform certain tasks with such low numbers. The presence of slave traders also increased violence in many regions. Raids were common and many lived in fear