impact of the international slave trade on Africa was immense. It can be seen
on the personal, family, communal, and continental levels. In addition to the
millions of able-bodied individuals captured and transported, the death toll
and the economic and environmental destruction resulting from wars and slave
raids were startlingly high. In the famines that followed
military actions, the old and very young were often killed or left to starve.
Forced marches of the captives over long distances claimed many lives. A
large number of the enslaved were destined to remain in Africa - many were
transported across the Sahara to the north - which heightened the impact of the
slave trade on the continent. It is estimated that the population of Africa
remained stagnant until the end of the nineteenth century.
Besides its demographic toll, the slave trade, and the Africans'
resistance to it, led to profound social and political changes. Social
relations were restructured and traditional values were subverted. The slave
trade resulted in the development of predatory regimes, as well as stagnation
or regression. Many communities relocated as far from the slavers' route as
possible. In the process, their technological and economic development was
hindered as they devoted their energy to hiding and defending themselves.
The disruption was immense: the relationships between kingdoms, ethnic
groups, religious communities, castes, rulers and subjects, peasants and
soldiers, the enslaved and the free, were transformed. In some decentralized
societies, people evolved new styles of leadership that led to more rigid,
hierarchical structures, thought to better ensure protection.
In addition, European powers intervened in the political process to
prevent the rise of the African centralized states that would have hampered
In the end, the slave trade left the continent underdeveloped,
disorganized, and vulnerable to the next phase of European hegemony: