How Common Was Slavery In Africa?

How Common Was Slavery In Africa?

How Common Was Slavery In Africa


How common was slavery in Africa? The answer might surprise you.

Slavery was actually quite common in Africa. In fact, it was so common that some African cultures even had a word for it. In this blog post, we will explore the history of slavery in Africa. We will also look at how slavery is still present in Africa today.

The History of Slavery in Africa

The African continent has a long and complicated history with slavery.

Slavery was not originally an African institution; it was brought to the continent by Arab and European traders. The Trans-Saharan slave trade began in the 8th century, when Arabs took slaves from the central Sudan region. This practice spread to West Africa by the 15th century, when Portuguese traders began captured slaves from along the western coast of Africa.

The Atlantic slave trade, which transported millions of Africans to the Americas, began in the 15th century as well. At first, most of the slaves taken from Africa were sent to Portugal and Spain. But by the early 1600s, the demand for slaves in the Americas had grown dramatically, and so did the scale of the Atlantic slave trade. British, French, Dutch, and other European traders transported slaves from all over Africa to work on plantations in North and South America as well as in Caribbean islands.

The exact number of Africans who were enslaved during this period is unknown, but it is estimated that between 10 and 12 million people were forcibly taken from their homes and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. The vast majority of these enslaved Africans came from West or Central Africa; very few were taken from southern or eastern Africa.

Many African societies had long practiced forms of forced labor, but it was only with the advent of trans-continental slavery that large numbers of Africans were forcibly uprooted from their homes and sold into lifelong bondage far away from their families and communities.

The Different Types of Slavery in Africa

In Africa, slavery took on many different forms. There was domestic slavery, where people were enslaved and made to work in the homes of their owners. There was also agricultural slavery, where people were forced to work on plantations and in other agricultural settings. There was also sexual slavery, where women and girls were forced into sexual servitude.

There was a great deal of variation in the experiences of slaves in Africa. Some slaves were treated relatively well and given some measure of freedom, while others were subject to brutal treatment and extreme exploitation.

The African slave trade was also a major source of slaves for the Americas. Many Africans were captured and sold into slavery in the New World, where they suffered even worse conditions than they had in Africa.

The Impact of Slavery on African Society

The Impact of Slavery on African Society

There is no doubt that slavery had a profound impact on African societies. The continent was wracked by slave raids for centuries, and the resulting disruption to families, communities, and economies was immense. Even today, the effects of slavery can be felt in many African countries.

The most obvious impact of slavery was the loss of human life. Tens of millions of Africans were forcibly uprooted from their homes and sold into bondage. Many perished along the way, while others were worked to death in brutal conditions. The slave trade also had a devastating effect on African families and communities. Whole villages were wiped out as able-bodied men were snatched away, leaving women and children behind.

The economic impact of slavery was also significant. In addition to the loss of labor, Africa lost a great deal of its human capital as skilled artisans and farmers were forced into exile. The continent also lost an entire generation of young people who would have otherwise contributed to its growth and development.

Today, the legacies of slavery can still be seen in many African countries. There is a higher incidence of poverty and disease in areas that were heavily affected by the slave trade. And there is a lingering mistrust between Africans and those of European descent – a legacy of the horrific atrocities committed during the era of slavery

The abolition of Slavery in Africa

The abolition of slavery in Africa was a gradual process that took place over the course of the 19th century. The first step was taken by the British in 1807, when they abolished the slave trade. This was followed by a series of bans on the importation of slaves into various British colonies in Africa.

The next major step came in 1833, when Britain abolished slavery itself. This had a significant impact on the African Slave Trade, as Britain was one of the largest markets for slaves. However, it did not end the practice completely, as many African countries continued to allow slavery within their borders.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that most African countries began to take action to abolish slavery within their own borders. In some cases, such as Ethiopia and Liberia, this was due to pressure from other nations or international organizations. In others, such as Ghana and Sierra Leone, it was due to a change in public opinion or government policy.

The last country to abolish slavery was Mauritania, which did so in 1981. Today, slavery is technically illegal in all African countries. However, it still exists in many forms, such as forced labor and child labor.


There is no definitive answer to the question of how common slavery was in Africa. Estimates vary widely, and it is likely that the actual number will never be known. What we do know is that slavery was a part of  Pre-Colonial African cultures.