Africa and the
Atlantic World
Ch. 25
African Politics and Society in Early
Modern Times
The States of West Africa and East Africa
The Songhay
Empire & Songhay
• Songhay rulers built a
flourishing city-state
• By the 15th century, Songhay
emerged as the dominant
power of the western
• Sunni Ali built an elaborate
administrative and military
apparatus to oversee affairs
in his realm
• Appointed governors to
oversee provinces
• Instituted a hierarchy of
command that turned his
army into an effective military
• Created imperial navy to
patrol the Niger River, which
was an extremely important
commercial highway in the
Songhay empire
Fail of Songhay
Swahili Decline
• In 1591 a musket-bearing
Moroccan army opened fire
on the previously invincible
Songhay military.
• Songhay forces withered
under the attack, and
subject peoples took the
opportunity to revolt against
Songhay domination
• Resulted in series of small,
regional kingdoms and citystates emerged in west
In 1505 Portuguese
naval expedition
subdued all the
Swahili cities from
Sofala to Mombasa
Portuguese forces
disrupted trade
Swahili cities into a
decline from which
they never fully
The Kingdoms of Central Africa and South Africa
The Kingdom of
• Built a centralized state with
officials overseeing military,
judicial, and financial affairs
• Kongo embraced much of the
modern-day Republic of Congo
and Angola.
• Portuguese merchants had
established a close political and
diplomatic relationship with the
kings of Kongo
• Supplied the kings with advisors
• Provided a military garrison to
support the kings and protect
Portuguese interests
• Brought tailors, shoemakers,
masons, miners, and priests to
• Kings of Kongo converted to
Christianity to establish closer
commercial relations with
Portuguese merchants &
Slave Raiding in
The Kingdom of
• Portugal brought wealth and
foreign recognition to Kongo
• Led to the destruction of the
kingdom and the establishment of
a Portuguese colony in Angola
• Portuguese merchants sought
high-value merchandise such as
copper, ivory, and, most of all
• Exchanged salves for textiles,
weapons, advisors, and artisans
• Portuguese merchants made
alliances with local authorities,
and provided them with weapons
• Relations between Kongo and
Portugal deteriorated, particularly
after Portuguese agents began to
pursue opportunities south of
• Was a powerful regional kingdom,
largely on the basis of the wealth it
was able to attract from trade
• Portuguese forces campaigned in
Ndongo in an effort to establish a
colony that would support largescale slave trading
The Kingdoms of Central Africa and South
Africa (cont.)
Queen Nzinga & The
Portuguese colony
of Angola
Led 40 year resistance against
Portuguese forces
Mobilized central African
peoples against her
Portuguese adversaries
Her aim was to drive the
Portuguese from her land,
expel the Dutch, and create a
vast Central African Empire
Angola was the first European
colony in sub-Saharan Africa
When Nzinga died,
Portuguese forces faced less
Resulted in extended and
tightened control over Angola
Regional Kingdoms
in South Africa
• Kingdoms had begun to
emerge as early as the
eleventh century, largely under
the influence of trade
• In south Africa, regional
kingdoms dominated political
• By 1300, rulers of one kingdom
had built a massive, stonefortified city known as Great
European Arrival
in South Africa
• Europeans struck alliances
with local peoples of South
Africa in search of
commercial opportunities
• Intervened in disputes with
the aim of supporting their
allies and advancing their
own interests
• Their conquests laid
foundation for series of
Dutch and British colonies
• Became the most
prosperous European
possessions in Sub
Saharan Africa
Islam and Christianity in Early
Modern Africa
Islam in Sub Saharan
Was most popular in the
commercial centers of west
Africa and the Swahili citystates of east Africa
Most African Muslims
blended Islam with
indigenous beliefs and
This syncretic Islam struck
many devout Muslims as
impure and offensive
The Fulani and Islam
Were Muslims in subSaharan Africa which had
concerns about the purity of
Many Fulani had settled in
cities where they observed a
strict form of Islam
Their Campaigns
strengthened Islam in subSaharan Africa
Laid a foundation for new
rounds of Islamic state
building and conversion
Christianity and Sub
Saharan Africa & The
Antonian Movement
Portuguese community in Kongo and
Angola supported priests and
missionaries who introduced Roman
Catholic Christianity to central Africa
Christian teachings blended with
African traditions & formed syncretic
An influential syncretic cult was the
Antonian movement in Kongo
Flourished when the Kongolese
monarchy faced challenges
throughout the realm
Antonian movement began when
Dona Beatriz proclaimed that St.
Anthony of Padua had possessed
her and chose her to communicate
his messages
Beatriz taught that Jesus Christ had
been a black African man, that
Kongo was the true holy land of
Christianity, and that heaven was for
Social Change in Early Modern
American Food Crops in
Sub Saharan Africa
Trade brought new food crops
to sub-Saharan Africa
American crops such as
manioc, maize, and peanuts
arrived in Africa aboard
Portuguese ships
Population Growth
Bread made from manioc flour
had become a staple food in
much of west Africa and central
It helped to underwrite steady
population growth
34 million (1500) to 44 million
(1600) to 52 million (1700) to 60
million (1800)
American food crops supported
expanding populations in all
regions if Sub Saharan Africa
during early modern times
The Atlantic Slave Trade
Foundation of the Slave Trade
Slavery in Africa
Slaves in Africa came from the ranks of
war captives
Criminals and individuals expelled from
their clans frequently fell into slavery
Once enslaved individuals had no
personal or civil rights
Agricultural plantations in the Songhay
empire often had hundreds of slave
Africans routinely purchased slaves to
enlarge their families and enhance their
They assimilated slaves into their kinship
groups, so that within a generation a
slave might obtain both freedom and an
honorable position in a new family or clan
The Islamic Slave Trade
Muslim merchants from north Africa,
Arabia, and Persia sought African slaves
for sale and distribution to
Destinations were to the Mediterranean
basin, southwest Asia, India, southeast
Asia and China
By the time Europeans ventured to subSaharan Africa, traffic in slaves was a
well-established feature of African society
A system for capturing, selling, and
distributing slaves had functioned
effectively for more than five hundred
Atlantic slave trade brought an enormous
involuntary migration that influenced the
development of societies throughout the
Atlantic Ocean basin.
Human Cargoes
The Early Slave Trade
Traders delivered their
human cargoes to
Portuguese island
colonies in the Atlantic
Sugar planters called for
slaves in increasing
Portuguese entrepreneurs
extended slave labor to
South America.
In 1518 the first shipment
of slaves went directly
from West Africa to the
Caribbean, where they
worked on recently
established sugar
Spanish authorities
introduced slaves to
English colonists
introduced slaves to the
North American mainland
Triangular Trade
The Middle Passage
leg they carried horses
and European
manufactured goods
(mostly cloth and metal
wares, especially firearms)
that they exchanged in subSaharan Africa for slaves
2nd leg took enslaved
Africans to Caribbean and
American destinations.
3rd leg, they filled their
vessels' hulls with
American products and
embarked on their voyage
back to Europe
At every stage of the
process, slave trade was an
inhumane and brutal
After being captured, enslaved
individuals were forced to
march to the coast, where they
lived in holding pens until a
ship arrived to transport them
to the western hemisphere
The dreadful “middle passage”
refers to the trans-Atlantic
journey, aboard filthy, crowded
slave ships
Conditions were so bad, slaves
attempted to starve themselves
to death or mounted revolts
Ship crews attempted to
preserve the lives of slaves,
intending to sell them for a
profit at the end of the voyage
Treated the unwilling
passengers with cruelty and
Approximately 25 percent of
individuals enslaved in Africa
did not survive the middle
The Impact of the Slave Trade in Africa
Volume of the Slave
Trade in Africa
The Atlantic slave trade
brought about the
involuntary migration of
about twelve million
Africans to the western
Kingdoms like Rwanda
and Bugunda escaped
the slave trade, partly
because of resistance,
and because their lands
were distant from major
slave ports on west
African coast.
Other societies flourished
and benefited
economically from the
slave trade
Social Effects of the
Slave Trade &
Gender and
The Atlantic slave trade
deprived African societies
of about sixteen million
in addition, several million
others were consumed by
the continuing Islamic
slave trade during the
early modern era.
Political Effects of the
Slavery Trade
Approximately two-thirds of
all slaves were young men
between fourteen and
thirty-five years of age
Resulted in a gender
Militated against slaves
reproducing in most places
of colonial America
Resulted in women making
up more than two-thirds of
the adult population of
This encouraged Angolans
to embrace polygyny (the
practice of having more
than one wife at a time).
The African Diaspora:
The dispersal of African peoples and their descendants
Plantation Societies
Cash Crops
Sugar was one of the most
lucrative cash crops of early
modern times
Soon tobacco rivaled sugar
as a profitable product
Rice became a major
plantation product, as did
By the eighteenth century,
cotton and coffee had
begun to emerge as a
plantation specialty
Caribbean & American
plantations specialized in
the production of some
agricultural crop in demand,
where African or African
American slaves performed
most of the labor
Regional Differences
In Caribbean and South
America, many slaves fell
victim to tropical diseases
such as malaria and yellow
Of all the slaves delivered
from Africa to the western
hemisphere, about half
went to the Caribbean, and
about one-third went to
About 5 percent of
enslaved Africans went to
North America where
diseases were less
Resistance to
Some forms of
resistance were mild but
costly to slave owners
Slaves often worked
slowly for their masters
but diligently in their own
Slaves occasionally
sabotaged plantation
equipment or work
A more serious form of
resistance involved
running away from the
plantation community
Maroon (runaway)
communities flourished
through out slave
holding regions of the
western hemisphere
Plantation Societies (cont.)
Slave Revolts
Most dramatic form of resistance was the
slave revolt
Slaves far outnumbered others in most
plantation societies
They had the potential to organize and
overwhelm their masters
Only in the French sugar colony of SaintDomingue did a slave revolt abolish
slavery as an institution
This revolt declared independence from
France and renamed the land Haiti, and
established a self governing republic
Slavery and Economic
The physical labor of African and African
American slaves made crucial
contributions to the building of new
societies in the Americas
Slave labor cultivated many of the crops
and extracted many of the minerals that
made their way around the world in the
global trade networks of the early modern
The Making of African American
Cultural Traditions
African and Creole
Languages & African
American Religions
European languages were
the dominant tongues in the
slave societies of the
western hemisphere
African languages also
influenced communication
Slaves spoke a creole
tongue that drew on several
African and European
Some slaves shipped out of
Africa were Christians
Others converted to
Christianity after their arrival
in the western hemisphere
All the syncretic, AfricanAmerican religions drew
inspiration from Christianity
African American
African American
Cultural Traditions
For many of these
involuntary laborers, the
playing of African music
brought a sense of home
and community to mind
Slaves in the Americas
adapted African musical
This included their
rhythmic and oratorical
elements, to their new
This was a means of
buffering the shock of
Was also a way to
survive and to resist the
horrid conditions of their
new lives
Slaves introduced African
foods to Caribbean and
American societies
Helped give rise to distinctive
hybrid cuisines
Slaves introduced rice
cultivation to tropical and
subtropical regions, including
South Carolina, Georgia, and
Added variety to American
The African diaspora
influenced the ways all
peoples lived in plantation
The End of the Slave Trade and
the Abolition of Slavery
Olaudah Equiano
Some freed slaves
contributed to the
abolitionist cause
Write books that exposed
the brutality of institutional
Most notable of them was
the west African Olaudah
Published an
autobiography detailing his
experiences as a slave
and a free man
The Economic Costs of
Plantations, slavery, and the
slave trade continued to
flourish as long as they were
Slave labor did not come
As the profitability of slavery
declined, Europeans began to
shift their investments from
sugarcane and slaves to newly
emerging manufacturing
End of Slave Trade &
The Abolition of
The end of the legal
commerce in slaves did
not abolish the institution
of slavery itself
As long as plantation
slavery continued, a
clandestine (secretive)
trade shipped slaves
across the Atlantic
The last documented ship
that carried slaves across
the Atlantic arrived in
Cuba in 1867
Officially, slavery no
longer exists, but millions
of people live in various
forms of servitude even

Africa and the Atlantic World