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african slavery

African Slavery

1. African law recognized slavery and the right of owners to alienate slaves.

2. A relatively low population density and an absence of the concept of property in land encouraged the development of slavery in West and Central Africa.

3. Slavery had been important in the medieval empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, and slave exports had supplemented the export of gold. 4. Although African slavery was not a benign institution, slaves in Africa were used in a wider variety of ways than in the New World: they were employed as agricultural workers, soldiers, servants, and officials. 5. The great majority of slaves sold to Europeans were not slaves in Africa; they were usually recent war captives or victims of banditry and judicial proceedings. 6. Even under harsh chattel slavery, manumission was possible for a significant number of slaves and slaves usually had a right to keep any monetary earnings and buy their freedom. 7. Multi-generational slavery was uncommon; in part this reflected the fact that most African slaves were women. 8. During the early years of enslavement, African slaves usually worked under supervision. Then many became “allotment slaves,” who worked five or six days until about 2 p.m. on the master’s lands, and in the evenings and on their days off, worked their own plots. In the third stage settled slaves spent most of their time working their land in exchange for a fixed obligation, usually what it took to feed an adult male for a year.



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