The Transatlantic Slave Trade in West Africa by Danya Mason

Today, our group attended a lecture given by Dr. Kofi Baku, one of the professors at the University of Ghana. We discussed the impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in West Africa, which occurred from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The following are important, interesting points that enhanced my knowledge in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Why is discussing the Transatlantic Slave Trade so important?

  1. It was the last and most prominent slave trade in West Africa.
  2. Its destruction affected the largest amount of Africans, which totaled around 12-15 million people.

How did the Transatlantic Slave Trade begin?

This picture shows the flow of goods and human resources throughout the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

This picture shows the flow of goods and human resources throughout the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  1. The Transatlantic Slave Trade began when Europeans wanted to settle into the New World to exploit land and resources.
  2. Europeans first utilized natives of the New World; however, many died of sicknesses the Europeans brought over and were also overworked.
  3. Also, a fun fact, the first European country to make an agreement to exchange manufactured goods for raw materials and slaves for New World advancement was Portugal.

What was the average annual amount of slaves who safely made it across the Atlantic?


How were slaves obtained?

  1. Prisoners of war were heavily recycled, meaning some were forced to fight in wars against their comrades, some were sent to the mines, and the rest were sold as slaves.
  2. Slaves were also obtained through criminals and bandits tearing through villages and kidnapping people with intentions of keeping them as slaves.
  3. Another way is through judicial process. An example of this is as follows: chiefs had mistresses, and when the mistresses took an oath of office, the chief would force her to confess if other men had been flirting with her, which, at times, was done by force. Once the mistress confessed, the men would be extracted and ordered into slavery.
  4. The last way was betrayal, where even a close relative could be sentenced. For instance, if a husband did not have enough money to pay for goods, he could sell his wife into slavery to pay for the goods. Once the wife was taken advantage of and the debt was paid off, she was thrown back to her husband.


Below is a link if further interested in the voyages across the Atlantic.

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