Simon Webb

The Slave Trade in Africa

Is it true that the trans-Atlantic slave trade, about which so much has been heard in recent years, would have been impossible without the willing and enthusiastic cooperation of African leaders? Slavery was a common practice in Africa long before the arrival of Europeans, with the trade in black slaves, who were transported from Africa to America and the islands of the Caribbean, aided by the African traders who benefited from the arrangement. Even when Europe and America outlawed slavery and the slave trade, those living in Africa clung tenaciously to the old ways and refused to relinquish what was, to them, a time-honored custom. Is it for this reason that slavery lingers on in Africa to this day?
In this book, Simon Webb explores the history of slavery in Africa and finds that it was not necessarily imposed upon the continent by Europeans, but was rather an integral part of many, perhaps most, cultures. Even when the British deployed their army and navy to try to suppress the trade in slaves during the nineteenth century, their efforts were largely ineffectual because many societies saw no reason to give up such an old, useful and profitable system.
At a time when the subject of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is seldom out of the news, this book provides a challenge to the popularly accepted view of the matter. Nobody reading it will ever view slavery and the slave trade in quite the same light again.
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