Bowl – African artefact
David Livingstone Centre collection

African Artefact
Ivory salt cellar (c16th century, Benin, Nigeria)
Made for European traders
© British Museum

African drum. Modern European culture has been strongly influenced by African art and music.
David Livingstone Centre collection

Several million Africans were captured and transported on British ships to work on the plantations in the West Indies and America. Many people died because of the appalling conditions. So many people were taken from some tribal areas that they became de-populated.

These areas were given names by the Europeans, such as the Slave Coast, the Gold Coast and the Ivory Coast. Modern countries that were affected by the slave trade include Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Benin.

Some people now use the term: Maafa. This is from a Kiswahili word meaning ‘disaster’ or ‘tragedy’.

Suppressing a culture

The tribal areas had ancient cultures and beautiful artefacts - but those supporting the slave trade system were keen to portray the Africans as inferior people, without a culture. Since there was no written history (on parchment or paper), it was easy for the traders (and others that came after them) to suppress the evidence.

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