Slavery, as it is known in the United States, differs vastly in comparison to the institution of slavery in West African countries. Slavery in West Africa was, however, affected and shaped by slavery in other parts of the world. The two articles that are discussed highlight slavery, slave trading, and the effects of both on life in West Africa. In J.D. Fage's article titled Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Context of West African History, Fage explores how slavery in West Africa was shaped by the Atlantic Slave Trade as well as how European slavery differed from slavery practiced in West Africa. Fage emphasizes three perspective points of view held in regard to slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade in West Africa. The first view states that the custom of slavery was an innate and widespread establishment in West African communities, so much so that when foreigners came to West Africa with a demand for slaves, the West African communities were immediately prepared for a highly organized trade with the foreigners.
[...] In an effort to establish stronger groups, many West Africans would gather together and capture West Africans from other ethnic groups. It is ironic that in their endeavor to avoid slavery they in turn enslaved others. It is all these things, mentioned in the two articles and in other sources that make slavery such a complex and multi-faceted institution. It would be very difficult to imagine what the United States and other countries would be like without the Atlantic Slave. [...]
[...] Carcavallo 7 It is by this that one could conclude that the elimination of slavery was an important event in West African labor history, especially when considering the changes it provoked in regard to the organization of family labor among the Soninke, changes that in turn produced additional migrants. The history of the Soninke highlights the importance of the examination of conventional examples of migration in West Africa. In this way, one could compare West Africa to Europe, in which a comparable history of ancient customary migration lays the foundation for the more recent emergence of migrant labor workers on the current labor market. [...]
[...] Carcavallo 3 In response to the statement that external demands for slavery resulted to the destruction of West Africa, Fage cites data gathered by Professor Philip D. Curtin regarding the number and allocation of the slave trade. Curtin's findings suggest that the decrease in population and the other effects of the slave trade to the Americas do not account for any permanently harmful effects on the longevity of West Africa. There is no viable evidence to suggest that any demand within West Africa resulted in the expansion of slavery that most likely resulted from the Atlantic Slave Trade. [...]
[...] The institution of slavery in West Africa differs greatly from the systems of slavery established in North America. Although slavery is common in West African countries, there are marked differences in the treatment and attitudes toward slaves. For example, the Ashanti have a slave system in which a foreigner can be purchased as a slave. However, the rights of these slaves were very improved in comparison to any slave brought to the Americas. According to R. S. Rattray, author of Ashanti Law and Constitution, is quoted in Fage's article stating that the “rights of an Ashanti slave were not so very different from ordinary privileges of any Ashanti free man, with whom, in these respects, his position did not seem to compare so unfavorably' (Fage, Rattray also asserted that condition of voluntary servitude was, in a very literal sense, the heritage of every Ashanti (Fage, In addition, being without a master in Ashanti society was much like offering yourself up to involuntary servitude. [...]
[...] Those are some of the most interesting aspects of the Atlantic Slave Trade in my opinion. I thought it was interesting how West Africans utilized their form of government to protect themselves from capture. The decentralized groups attempted to scatter in the forest regions making their capture more difficult while centralized groups sought protection by offering themselves as servants to the king and other authoritarian figures in their communities. The need of several West African groups to survive and avoid slavery led to the enslavement of other West Africans. [...]
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