The Impact of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Africa experienced four slave trades: the trans-Saharan, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and lastly the largest and most famous of them all the Trans – Atlantic slave trade whose impact is still felt to this very day.

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Demographic impact

Millions of able-bodied Strong, young people were ferried from West Africa, Central Africa, and Eastern Africa to work in agricultural estates and mining  industries in European colonies known as the new world. The remnant population was mainly composed of the elderly and children who were of little developmental value as they were not able to produce food for the growth of the community. Marriage patterns were adversely affected as the young men of nuptial age were no longer present to take up the young women as their wives. In cases of famine, whose impact had often been minimized by a community prepared with stored food, many of the remnants would die of hunger for lack of energy to cultivate food crops during the planting seasons. This further worsened the demographic set up.

Economic impact

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Depending on the author most articles count up to 25 million slaves that were taken across the “middle passage” as the journey across the Atlantic is sometimes called. Many of these slaves died from disease and hunger in the deplorable dungeons and the violent suppression of on board rebellion attempts. The effect of such a huge forced migration from one continent led to massive underdevelopment of West Africa, Central Africa, and Eastern Africa. Therefore, as the rest of the world developed using African labor and resources, Africa remained under developed, a condition that has persisted into the 21st century

Social-cultural impact

Inter-tribal wars became frequent among the African societies. Communities who had lived as neighbors for many generations now turned on each other. The enmity and hostility between some African communities can be traced back to as early as the period of the trans- Atlantic slave trade. Laws were also changed making crimes punishable by slavery which resulted into break down of many families. The population of Africa during this time either stagnated or declined due to the massive drain of the reproductive ages from the societies.

Constant contact and association with foreign traders eventually led to the adoption of foreign believes at the expense of the traditional African way of life. Cultural erosion occurred as demand for the wealth associated with the trade, firearms and other material gains presented

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Because the trans- Atlantic slave trade only targeted Africans,  a general perception gradually developed in which the “blacks” were thought to be inferior and this later gave justification to the phenomenon known as racism.

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