The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on the Societies of the Western Sudan
This chapter examines the effects of the slave trade on the institutional structure of Senegambia and the western Sudan and the reproduction of the societies involved. Enslavement does not result from a conscious desire to enslave. The chapter deals only with the slavers, but one-half of every slaving formation was the merchants who sold the slaves and provided the trade goods that rulers, aristocrats, and warriors wanted. The importance of Islam lay in its role as an alternative source of political power. It is difficult for many studying the slave trade to imagine any kind of economic growth under the conditions of violence and insecurity that the trade promoted. The slave trade produced islands of growth and prosperity, but these contrasted sharply with the misery of areas victimized by slave raiders and the harsh conditions of the slave village.