The History of Slavery In Africa

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As of today, the world no longer participates in the slave trade. For most of the modern world, slavery is an abhorrent crime that most people cannot even comprehend in today’s society. However, slavery did exist once upon a time, and it wasn’t as far back as you might like to imagine. As of the early 20th century, slavery was still prominent in many countries around the world, including a lot of countries in Africa. Today, that number has dropped significantly, but there are still cases that rear their ugly heads.

What Is Slavery?

The Dictionary states that slavery is, ‘the condition in which one person is owned as property by another and is under the owner’s control, especially in involuntary servitude.’ Slavery is different to human trafficking in the sense that trafficking revolves around moving, gathering and keeping human beings by threat or force. With regards to slavery, one person owns another person. Today, the term slavery might differ to the original one as someone can be treated like a slave. This happens when they are held against their will and made to obey the people that hold them captive.

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When Did It Start?

It is hard to pinpoint when slavery first occurred because information of the time are few and far between. It is well known that records of slavery date as far back as Mycenaean Greece, but there is evidence that suggest it was prominent earlier. Graves in Africa going as far back as 8000 BC are thought to show people such as the Sans being enslaved and treated against their wills.

When Did It Become Prominent?

The Bible is one of the main sources of information with regards to slavery, and that was codified almost two-thousand years ago. However, there is also evidence to suggest that slavery existed as far back as eleven-thousand years ago. For example, the Code of Hammurabi states that anyone who helps a slave to try to escape will receive the death penalty. The Code of Hammurabi was written in ca. 1760 BC.

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Why Did Slavery in Africa Prosper?

Slavery was a form of punishment for one. Before the world became more knowledgeable and civilized, the pain of others was enjoyable. It is no secret that mobs of people would gather to see a stoning or a crucifixion. Although slavery wasn’t a public humiliation, it still acted as a form of law and order in a lot of regards. Also, Westerners started to invade places in Africa. When they discovered indigenous people, they immediately classed them as second class citizens. Such citizens were thought to have no rights and were used to help the rich and the important people.

When Did Slavery in Africa End?

By the nineteenth century, people in Africa were starting to advocate the abolishment of slavery. However, some countries on the continent still practiced slavery up until the early twentieth century. To this day, there are even reports of slavery in some African countries.

What About Today?

Today, organizations around the world are trying to abolish slavery completely as no person should be subject to such cruelty.

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