The African Slaveries: Distinction of Trade

Mariam Sulakian

For millenniums slavery has infected cultures and civilization around the world, seeping its way into the histories of Babylon, Rome, and the Americas. Yet perhaps no slavery compares to that within the African continent, from which hundreds of millions of humans have been enslaved and trans-continentally exported for centuries, dating back to at least 800 A.D. Despite the common basis of enslavement that knotted African slave trades, the grouping of these different trades under a single umbrella of “slavery” overlooks their deep-seated disparities.

The first division between slave trades in Africa lay in the reasons for enslavement and the preferential selection of slave gender. Atlantic traders coming into Africa from European countries sought laborers who could tend plantations and perform hard labor for production in the New World. Traders correspondingly sought physically able bodies without much preference for gender. On the other hand, large Islamic states in the Mediterranean region…

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