African History 4: Dahomey
Want a study guide too?
Despite the name, the Kingdom of Dahomey was not full of friendly people. Unless you were a slave trader...in which case, yes, they could have been your homies.
|World History||African History|
How could Africans do that to other Africans?
Well, for one thing, during the Age of Exploration, there was no such thing as a pan-African identity. [Ship travels through age of exploration]
Meaning that people didn’t necessarily think of themselves as African.
There was a ginormous number of people living in Africa, with many different races, ethnicities,
and huge cultural differences.
Europeans might’ve seen people from Africa as one big lump of mashed potatoes. [European man looking at African man]
But people from the continent saw themselves as part of a complex casserole made of lots
of different ingredients.
Anyway, this is one of the reasons some kings in Africa didn't see anything too ethically
wrong with attacking different ethnic groups and nations and selling their people into [King Dahomey appears on pier]
Totally different people.
So NBD, they thought.
That’s definitely how the rulers of the kingdom of Dahomey felt.
See, Dahomey had a… rough childhood. [Abomey kid appears]
It started as a small and weak city-state called Abomey.
The nearby Oyo Empire had beat up on it for a while. [Oyo empire hand hits abomey]
So Abomey absolutely hated Oyo and the whole Yoruba ethnic group to which the Oyo rulers
But Oyo was powerful, and Abomey couldn’t do much about the abuse, except maybe write
mean things in its diary… [Abomey writing in his diary]
In the mid-17th century, however, a brutal absolute monarchy rose to power in Abomey.
The kingdom got organized with a rigid hierarchy of bureaucrats and an ever-expanding army. [Soldiers of Dahomey appear on cliff]
And by 1722, Abomey started to get even by conquering nearby Yoruba cities.
Gotta hand it them: they had a solid plan.
Capture towns with European slave-trading posts…
…then use those posts to export the Yoruba people to the Europeans for superior weapons… [Man hands over slaves]
…and finally, use those weapons to capture more Yoruba towns to get more weapons.
It worked like a charm.
Still, we don’t think the King of Dahomey would’ve been invited to do a Ted Talk… [King Dahomey on stage and security guard appears]
Next thing anybody knew, Abomey was renamed the Kingdom of Dahomey.
Over the next century, it became a bigger and bigger player in the human-selling game.
They could only keep control of their empire through superior weapons. [Dahomey with stockpile of weapons]
They could only get superior weapons by expanding their empire.
It was a vicious cycle that caused them to ship thousands of people out of their slave
One might almost feel bad for Dahomey. [Slave trade on a ship]
In a way, it was a… slave to its own slaving racket….