Start of European slave trading in Africa.

Conquerors: How Portugal Seized the Indian Ocean and Forged the First Global Empire with other Europeans..

First and foremost slavery in whatever form was and is a despicable act that has been thrusted upon humanity to this day.

Various forms of slavery, servitude, or coerced human labour existed throughout the world before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as illustrated below, historian David Eltis narrates.

Before 1400: Slavery had existed in Europe from classical times and did not disappear with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Slaves remained common in Europe throughout the early medieval period. However, slavery of the classical type became increasingly uncommon in Northern Europe and, by the 11th and 12th centuries, had been effectively abolished in the north. Nevertheless, forms of unfree labour, such as villainise and serfdom, persisted in the north well into the early modern period.

In Southern and Eastern Europe, classical-style slavery remained a normal part of society and economy for longer. Trade across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic seaboard meant that African slaves began to be brought to Italy, Spain, Southern France, and Portugal well before the discovery of the New World in 1492.

1441: Start of European slave trading in Africa. The Portuguese captains Antão Gonçalves and Nuno Tristão capture 12 Africans in Cabo Branco (modern Mauritania) and take them to Portugal as slaves.


"Most studies and textbooks on the slave trade focused on the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when the slave trade had become the main activity in Black Africa (...) This historical approach has always avoided an analysis of the military and other means deployed by European slave traders in the 16th and 17th centuries to defeat African kings and elites who resisted, and to put docile and corrupt leaders in their place.

Thus, this image of Africa selling its own children has always been based on a lack of knowledge of the particularly brutal means put in place by Europeans to demolish empires that were prosperous, to exterminate any resistance to invaders ' Rosa Amelia Plumelle-Uribe “Traite des Noirs; Traite des Blancs”, pages 138-139.

Ancient Egyptian culture flourished through adherence to tradition and their legal system followed this same paradigm.

Many other places in Africa too had their laws under their own Kingdoms, some notable pre-colonial states and societies in Africa include the Ajuran Empire, D'mt, Adal Sultanate, Alodia, Warsangali Sultanate, Kingdom of Nri, Nok culture, Mali Empire, Bono State, Songhai Empire, Benin Empire, Oyo Empire, Kingdom of Lunda (Punu-yaka), Ashanti Empire, Ghana Empire, Mossi Kingdoms, Mutapa Empire, Kingdom of Mapungubwe, Kingdom of Sine, Kingdom of Sennar, Kingdom of Saloum, Kingdom of Baol, Kingdom of Cayor, Kingdom of Zimbabwe, Kingdom of Kongo, Empire of Kaabu, Kingdom of Ile Ife, Ancient Carthage, Numidia, Mauretania, and the Aksumite Empire.

In the 14th century, Arab traveller Ibn Battuta said about the city of Kilwa in Tanzania, in the black Swahili civilization, that it was the most beautiful city in the world. So that’s what Europeans found when they arrived in Africa.

The Swahili city-states steadily grew and prospered, and were a major world economic power by the 1400’s.  Although the city-states were famous throughout Africa and Asia, no European countries knew of them.  

In fact it was with these words that Pope Nicholas V confirmed; on 8 January 1454, the authorization given to Portugal to begin the European slave trade and the destruction of Africa.


His successor Pope Calixtus III, in 1456, specified “From the whole Guinea and beyond to India. It was therefore within the framework of an alleged evangelizing mission that the Portuguese entered a rich and civilized Africa with their missionaries. The Europeans thus left descriptions of the civilizations they were about to destroy.

In 1482, the Portuguese entered the Kongo Empire, which at that time was under the reign of Nzinga a Nkuwu. The King, through the legendary African hospitality, was not cautious enough about them. Thanks to the firearms that the Africans did not have, the Portuguese, then an emerging power after being re-civilized by the Blacks of North East Africa and the Arabs, brutally changed the course of the African history.


At the death of Nzinga a Nkuwu, his son Mpanzu a Kitima, hostile to Europeans and rejecting Christianity, was crowned Mwene Kongo (Emperor of the Kongo).

The Portuguese then mounted an insurrection to install his brother Nzinga Mbemba, converted under the name of Afonso I. King Mpanzu was killed on the battlefield as he faced this coalition. Afonso became Mwene Kongo.

The destruction of Kongo dia Ntotila commenced (the Kongo Empire).

You can imagine the surprise, then, of Portuguese captain Vasco da Gama when in 1498 he came upon bustling port cities such as Sofala, Kilwa, Mombasa, and Malindi as he sailed up the eastern coast of Africa.  He and his crew were welcomed by most of the cities they visited, although neither his ships nor the European items they attempted to trade were of much interest in the East African city-states.

Vasco da Gama did eventually reach India with the help of an Indian navigator from Malindi named Kanji Mallam.

In 1499, da Gama returned to Portugal and told the king and queen, who had sponsored his voyage, everything that he’d seen, including the shiploads of gold, ivory, porcelain, silk, and cotton being bought and sold in the port cities along the eastern coast of Africa.


In 1505; the Portuguese built a fort in Solafa (Mozambique). Like in Kongo, the strategy was to enter the Empire through religion. The first missionaries arrived on the banks of the Zambezi around 1560; and after a brief conversion to Christianity, the emperor - who had obviously understood what was at stake - had the missionary Gonzalo da Silveira killed. The Portuguese attacked the hinterland.

The destruction of the Mwene Mutapa Empire (Zimbabwe) had begun.

The organization of the slave trade was structured to have the Europeans stay along the coast lines, relying on African middlemen and merchants to bring their victims to be sold.

During the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese Empire was the first European power to gain control of Zanzibar, and kept it for nearly 200 years. Vasco da Gama's visit in 1499 marked the beginning of European influence.


Louise Marie Diop-Maes said that: “After looting ships around Zanzibar in 1503, the Portuguese attacked Kilwa in 1505 and began building a fort. The same year they threatened Mombasa, which resisted. With the help of African allies, the inhabitants fought against the Portuguese in the alleys of the city all the way to the King's palace. Having stormed the palace, the Portuguese forced the King to surrender. The city was ransacked and burned down. Further north, Barawa suffered the same fate in 1528.

The destruction of the Swahili and Somali Kingdoms were the targets.

In 1503 or 1504, Zanzibar became part of the Portuguese Empire and Slave trading in the area commenced on a commercial scale across the Indian Ocean and beyond as the Portuguese were now the force that was bulldozing all city-states and stealing all the wealth and resources of the region and the area, thus the introduction and the beginning of taxation emerged as it is known today.

The Portuguese government took immediate interest in the Swahili city-states. They sent more ships to the eastern coast of Africa with three goals: to take anything of value they could find, to force the kings of the city to pay taxes to Portuguese tax collectors, and to gain control over the entire Indian Ocean trade.
Mombasa was attacked again. After 4 months of occupation, the Portuguese razed the city to the ground. In 1569. Mombasa was repopulated.

In fact there is much more history between Oman and the Portuguese, The Portuguese took over Muscat on 1st April 1515, and held it until 26th January 1650. Portugal dominated the region around Muscat and beyond between 1507 and 1650 too.

Between 1500 and 1850, European traders shipped hundreds of thousands of African, Indian, Malagasy, and Southeast Asian slaves to ports throughout the Indian Ocean world. The activities of the British, Dutch, French, Spanish,  Portuguese traders… etc … who operated in the Indian Ocean demonstrate that European slave trading was not confined largely to the Atlantic but must now be viewed as a truly global phenomenon. Richard B. Allen’s magisterial work dramatically expands our understanding of the movement of free and forced labour around the world.

Drawing upon extensive archival research and a thorough command of published scholarship, Allen challenges the modern tendency to view the Indian and Atlantic oceans as self-contained units of historical analysis and the attendant failure to understand the ways in which the Indian Ocean and Atlantic worlds have interacted with one another. In so doing, he offers tantalizing new insights into the origins and dynamics of global labour migration in the modern world.

Turn of the 16th century saw all these International consortiums in East India Company, Austrian East India Company, Dutch East India Company and other European countries such as the Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, Belgians, Dutch …etc all traded commercially in Slave trade as well as other goods, …

Residual numbers too of the slaves ancestry is apparent in the Mediterranean world, especially in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, Greece, Imperial Rome and the Islamic societies of the Middle East and North Africa”, India, Pakistan, Siri Lanka, China too…
What was so different about the Colonial legacy in terms of European Political and religious aspect that took shape at a latter part of period as time went by, adding larger conversion to Christianity at a significant scale happened and was part and parcel of turning them into conforming beings even though the very indigenous people were looked upon as second or third class citizens on their very own soil that they lived on, was it time that had changed the slave demographics and slavery trade was looked latterly inversely by the masters in a different light due to less call on demand by overseas shipments claims and to now re-strategize to look into colonizing Africa as they did India and many other?

Various forms of slavery, servitude, or coerced human labour existed throughout the world before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as illustrated above. As historian David Eltis explains, and reiterated “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.” Still, earlier coerced labour systems in the Atlantic World generally differed, in terms of scale, legal status, and racial definitions, from the trans-Atlantic chattel slavery system that developed and shaped New World societies from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

In 1503 or 1504 seen Zanzibar became part of the Portuguese Empire as explained earlier and Slave trading as well as other mercantile trade commenced on a commercial scale across the Indian Ocean, South Africa and beyond, this had furthered introduced and added more scope to the already ongoing slave trade that was already in force in the Atlantic and therefore dove tailed into the existing slave trading now with the introduction of the East African region with the ongoing Atlantic Slave Trade on the other side of Africa, that continued commercially into the 17th century” in fact history further goes on and talks about 'The spice of slavery'


During the start of the 15th century Slave Trade between West Africa and across Europe, the North, the Atlantic to the Americas and West Indies had already started taking shape on a supply demand basis, distributing the growth and demands of the discovery of the New World in 1492.

During the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese Empire was the first European power to gain control of Zanzibar, and kept it for nearly 200 years. Vasco da Gama's visit in 1499 marked the beginning of European influence in or around whole of African coastal regions.

By this time “The transatlantic slave trade that had begun in or around the 15th century was in full force by 16th Century and was already shaping New World societies at a phenomenal rate across the Atlantic and towards the West and into the Americas. Historically the Portuguese and other Europeans who already had vested lucrative interests in exploring the West Coast of Africa and later in the 16th Century expanded into not just the Kongo, East Africa but India, Malabar Coast, on the South East African coast at Delagoa Bay, and at the Nicobar Islands  and beyond.

Although at first the number of enslaved Africans taken was small. In about 1650, however, with further development of plantations on the newly colonised Caribbean islands and American mainland and other occupied colonization, the trade grew and expanded along the coasts of the Zeng (East African coasts), many Islands in the Indian Ocean as well as South Africa.

East Africa was now a focal point of the Indian Ocean and beyond...with now the emergence of Portuguese dominance (1500-1698CE) as per article… African Democracy Encyclopaedia Project clearly states…… Conquerors they wanted to be, Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and forged the First Global Empire.


Various forms of slavery, servitude, or coerced human labour existed throughout the world before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as illustrated above, when the issue of who was the primary seller of Africans in the slave markets is discussed, majority of us are often in denial, embarrassed to admit that their ancestors especially the clan chiefs sold people for a song-as cheap as possible. As historian David Eltis explains, and reiterate that “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories.”

Still, earlier coerced labour systems in the Atlantic World generally differed, in terms of scale, legal status, and racial definitions, from the trans-Atlantic chattel slavery system that developed and shaped New World societies from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.


Ansu Datta (From Bengal to the Cape - Bengali Slaves in South Africa 2013) p 19 - "...studies of transoceanic trade suggest that slaves hardly played a part in the export trade from Bengal at that time [1665-1721]. As far as Africa is concerned, it seems that Bengali slaves who were brought to the Cape came mostly by way of Batavia." the East Indies (31.47%), Ceylon/Sri Lanka (3.1%), Mozambique, Madagascar and the East African coast (26.65%), Malaya (0.49%) Mauritius (0.18%)…etc

One does not need to look too deep, it is evidently clear….South America, North America, West Indies and all over and across the Atlantic Ocean slaves were shipped in millions, not just from India, East Indies, West Africa, East Africa, North Africa but many other places too that were under colonialism or of foreign occupancy.

Western Europe not only corrupted the slave/servility systems in Africa they also caused the Arab slave boom in the 19th century (Arab' is not a racial group), this was mainly due to the fact in 1698, two years short of the 18th century, Zanzibar fell under the control of the Sultanate of Oman, which started and developed an economy of trade and cash crops, with a ruling Arab elite and a Bantu general population.

Slave trade and other commercial trade carried on, it was now a residual number to the norm that was already two century old trade and proportionally of other trade as well as Slave trading that was commercially started by the Portuguese in the region.


And most critical was Europe’s continuation of the African Holocaust up through colonialism, apartheid, neo-colonialism and the current exploitation of Africa’s resources. These events are not disconnected, although attempts are made to dichotomize these realities.

Zanzibar became part of the overseas holdings of Oman, falling under the control of the Sultan of Oman.

The Omani set up trading companies in Zanzibar in the 18th century, ending nearly 200 years of Portuguese dominance on the island and also nearby smaller islands that were used as holdings.

In 1832 the greatest Arab ruler, Said bin Sultan bin Ahmed, better know as Seyyid Said, a grandson of Ahmed bin Sa’id, the founder of the Al-Busa’id dynasty, decided to make Zanzibar the capital of his dominions in the place of Muscat. He was mainly concerned to extend and to consolidate the influence and the commercial interests of Zanzibar along the coast of East Africa and inland to the Great Lakes, these were un-renowned and seen as pioneers of exploration in East Africa and thus the Europeans explorers followed their trails and to seek beyond them.


As far back as 1822 Seyyid Said had already signed a Convention with the British government for “the perpetual abolition of the slave trade between the dominions of His Highness and all Christian countries.”

After Britain and Oman had signed the Moresby Treaty in 1822, two British ships under the command of Captain William Fitzwilliam Wentworth Owen were dispatched to the Indian Ocean to survey the East African coast and Arabia.

The captain's mandate was to monitor and stamp out any slave trade activity in the region. Owen was a man so fervently committed to the cause of ridding the world of slavery, that he sailed to Muscat on his ship, HMS Leven, to harangue Seyyid Said about the horrors of slave trade.

The other ship under his command, HMS Barracouda, paid a visit to Mombasa to stock up on supplies. The Barracouda sailed into Mombasa harbour on December 4th 1823.

Yet, it is baffling that King Leopold in the Congo amassed a huge personal fortune by exploiting the natural resources of the Congo through brutal enslaving and was obviously allowed to carry on without any intervention or by means of any type of humanitarian meeting as the Berlin Conference had done, that had started it all.

The initial task of the Berlin conference was to agree that the Congo River and Niger River mouths and basins would be considered neutral and open to trade.

Despite its neutrality, part of the Kongo Basin became a personal Kingdom (private property) for Belgium’s King Leopold II and under his rule, over half of the region’s population died or were they killed? The Belgium king Leopold II turned a huge piece of Africa into his rural estate, enslaved its people, and left a legacy of misery that lasts until today.. The one difference is Leopold killed black men , women and children in Africa and the Western narrative has always been soft on people of colour and their deaths.

Estimates of the death toll ranged to fifteen million, innocent men, women and children. Leopold II (9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909), Colonization 1876–1885, Congo Free State 1885–1908, Belgian Congo 1908–1960… Read Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost for much more insight into this heinous crime and links the misery of the Congolese people of today to the horrors to which the tyranny of King Leopold subjected Congo in the not too distant past. 


In fact the estimate of the number killed during the transatlantic slave trade alone varies anywhere between 6-150 million. The official UN estimate is 17 million (UN). However, we ourselves would be inclined to agree the figure of 60 million, given all the variables here, including the fact that during the entire period of the slave trade, Africa's population did not increase. Some may argue that this is because Europe had advanced medicine and technology, while Africans didn't. Yet during this era Asia wasn't exactly at a sophisticated, technological level either. But their population nearly doubled. We believe the stagnation of Africa's population is a by- product of the transatlantic slave trade. (World Future Fund).

European slave trading and abolitionism in the Indian Ocean also led to the development of an increasingly integrated movement of slave, convict, and indentured labour during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and into the 20th century, the consequences of which resonated well into the twentieth century.

Global demographics in people of African descent/Origin as in similarities to the Americas, West Indies, Fiji, Madagascar, Re-Union, Mauritius, …etc are in abundance to witness?

One can find the likes of JP Morgan and Lloyds of London …etc ”. The government certainly shelled out £20m (about £16bn today) in 1833. Not to free slaves but to line the pockets of 46,000 British slave owners as “recompense” for losing their “property”. Having grown rich on the profits of an obscene trade, slave owners grew richer still from its ending. That, scandalously, was what the taxpayer was paying for until 2015. Narrated by Kenan Malik of the Guardian

So what of other European Elite that benefitted and those that profited are all over the Western world as well as in Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand South America, West Indies….etc.

Right now you can look at millions of Brazilians, millions of African Americans, millions of African Caribbean; millions of broken communities in West Africa, millions of people in South Africa, every single one of them the product of European systems that has not stopped to this very day.

Indentured labour from South Asia (1834-1917) a form of slavery…


The slave trade was officially abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807.  Britain's darkest secrets: a form of slavery ...After the abolition of slavery, newly free men and women refused to work for the low wages on offer on the sugar farms in British colonies in the West Indies. Indentured labour was a system of bonded labour that was instituted following the abolition of slavery.

Indentured labour were recruited to work on sugar, cotton and tea plantations, and rail construction projects in British colonies in West Indies, Africa and South East Asia.  From 1834 to the end of the WWI, Britain had transported about 2 million Indian indentured workers to 19 colonies including Fiji, Mauritius, Ceylon, Trinidad, Guyana, Malaysia, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.


The gradual abolition of the slave trade and slavery in European colonies was the source of new migrations of labourers throughout the world, notably during the second half of the nineteenth century. In order to meet the needs of a labour-intensive plantation economy or to build the central infrastructure of their colonies, the Europeans—for the most part the English, French, Portuguese, and the Dutch—called on free foreign labourers.

This was known as the indenture system (which means “contract”), or the coolie trade if the indentured labourers were from Asia (coolie being derived from the Tamil word for salary).

These new flows of indentured manpower were dictated by the colonial expansion of Europe, as well as by the difficult socio-economic conditions in the countries where the indentured labourers came from, which acted as a powerful factor for departure.

The workers, the majority of whom were men, were directly recruited by the colonial administration or by immigration agents. For example, Javanese, Japanese, Tonkinese, Africans, Madagascans and especially Chinese and Indians left their native land to go and work, in exchange for a salary, in the colonies of the Americas and the Indian Ocean, or in the territory recently conquered by the imperial powers in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Between 1834 and 1920, approximately 1,500,000 indentured labourers, of whom 85% were from India, were sent to British colonies, one third to Mauritius, one third to the British West Indies, and the rest to Natal. Tens of thousands of Indian workers emigrated to the French colonies of La Réunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana.

750,000 Chinese left for Malaysia, Sumatra, Cuba, the British West Indies, or La Réunion. This is not to mention the tens of thousands of African workers who went to the West Indies, French Guiana, La Réunion, Mauritius or Natal. Those who went to the Indian Ocean came from Mozambique or Zanzibar, and those who went to the Atlantic region were from the Congo and Senegal. Experiments were also made with European workers (Maltese, Irish, French), but without success.

1813/15: Although it is described as Gradual emancipation adopted in Argentina. An academic in the history of Slaves in Argentina narrated: How Argentina Killed Millions of Her African Population To Become a Purely Caucasian Nation

"So although they abolished slavery in 1815 in Argentina, it continued until 1853, after that the main preoccupation of the leaders was how to get rid of the black slaves and their descendants. Our president who ruled us from 1868 to 1874, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, wrote in his diary in 1848, this was long before he became president and slavery ended that - 'In the United States… 4 million are black, and within 20 years will be 8 million…. What is to be done with such blacks, hated by the white race?' - It shows that he was already thinking of how to eliminate black people before he became President and when he became President, he succeeded."

"Didn't the world say anything?"

"No. They ignored it. I am sure most of them wanted to do the same thing but failed. At that time, they admired them. I remember when I will go to Brazil as a child, my father's friend will say in disgust as he looked at the black Brazilians - we should have had your guts and finished them off. All of them. Make Brazil white just like Argentina."

1814: Gradual emancipation begins in Colombia. Slavery was practiced in Colombia from the beginning of the 16th century until its definitive abolition in 1851. This process consisted of trafficking in people of African and indigenous origin, first by the European colonizers from Spain and later by the commercial elites of the Republic of New Granada, the country that contained what is today Colombia. (Wiki)

1823  Slavery abolished in Chile. Chile abolished slavery in 1823. Article 19.2 of the Constitution expressly states that “There are no slaves in Chile, and those who tread its soil shall be free”.

1824 Slavery abolished in Central America.

1829 Slavery abolished in Mexico.

1831 Slavery abolished in Bolivia.

1833 Abolition of Slavery Act passed in Britain. Slavery Abolition Act, (1833), in British history, act of Parliament that abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa as well as a small number in Canada. It received Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, and took effect on August 1, 1834.

Britain ..The 
slave trade was actually abolished in 1807. The 1833 Slavery Abolition Act abolished, as the name suggests, slavery itself. A Treasury so loose with its facts might explain something about the state of the British economy. Worse, however, was the claim that British taxpayers helped “buy freedom for slaves”. The government certainly shelled out £20m (about £16bn today) in 1833. Not to free slaves but to line the pockets of 46,000 British slave owners as “recompense” for losing their “property”. Having grown rich on the profits of an obscene trade, slave owners grew richer still from its ending. That, scandalously, was what the taxpayer was paying for until 2015. Kenan Malik


1842 Slavery abolished in Uruguay.

1848 Slavery abolished in all French & Danish colonies.

Proclamation of the Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies, 27 April 1848, 1849, by François Auguste BiardPalace of Versailles

1851 Slavery abolished in Ecuador.

1854 Slavery abolished in Peru and Venezuela.

1863 Emancipation Proclamation issued in the U.S.

1863 Slavery abolished in all Dutch colonies.

1865 Slavery abolished in the U.S. as a result of the end of the Civil War.


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