It has been fashionable especially among people of non-African descent to associate slavery and slave trade with Africa because of the Atlantic slave trade which began in the 15th century,this is of course the result of gross historical ignorance.
Slavery is a social institution which is as old as human race itself.we have read in the bible of the Jews being enslaved by the Egyptians about 400 years ago.the great pyramids of Egypt were built by slave labour.the ancient empires of Greece and Rome had more slaves than free men, at the height of their their glory and power.infact a great proportions of Europe’s peasant class int the 18th century were descendants of serfs or people of slave origin.
Int west Africa as in other parts of the world’slavery of a recognised institution.slaves were employed by kings,chiefs and wealthy people in thire houses as domestic servants.a mans wealthy and social status was assessed by the number of slaves he possessed.this type of slavery was known as domestic slavery as opposed to the plantation slavery of the period of the Atlantic slave trade.
Domestic slaves were well treated in all parts of west Africa.,they were treated almost like free members of the household .they were allowed to acquired wealth ,marry and raise children.Olaudahequiano, an Ibo slave freed in England in the 18th century,writes about slavery in iboland:
“with us the do no more work.than other members f the community,even their master;the food’chlothing and lodging was nearly d same as theirs”slaves could even rise to positions of importance in the community, as jaja of opobo did.or the could buy their freedom by refunding the amount which was paid on their head.on the other hand plantation slave in America and the west Indies was discriminated against in every way by their master.he was ill-housed,ill-fed,ill-clothed,overworked and made to suffer the worst form of human degradation.he lived among strangers in a strange land,with no hope of freedom or relief from suffering.
Now where ever slavery had existed,slave trade had also existed.slavery and slave trade were universal and not perculiar to Africa.
In the sixt century A.D.,for instance,St Gregory met some English slave boys in a slave market in Rome.
In the 15th and 16th centuries,the turks often raided the cities of the Mediterranean coasts of Europe and carried away many European men and women whom they sold to the Muslim peoples of north Africa.
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