African History 4: Non-European Slave Traders
It turns out slavery wasn't quite as bad before Europeans showed up. But...it was still slavery. We're talking the difference between being pushed down in the mud, and being pushed down in the mud plus being kicked in the gut. Neither one's okay.
|World History||African History|
Sure, slavery at this time in Africa wasn't as brutal as later European slavery would
But that’s kinda like saying that eating dirt is better than eating gravel. [Man eating dirt in kitchen]
Religion didn't help much either.
In medieval Islamic law, all people were considered free until proven otherwise. [Judge banging gavel]
How do you prove otherwise?
Thumb war? [People in thumb war]
It was kinda tough.
Two kinds of people could be legally sold as slaves.
Those captured in wars. [Slaves in chains]
And those born into slavery.
The first category exploded in the 14th and 15th centuries, as bloody wars across the
Middle East and East Africa flooded the markets with POWs. [Men fighting with swords]
And trust us, nobody going to those markets was worried if their POWs were free-range…
However, if human history has shown us anything, it's that human beings…want more stuff.
So, of course, slave owners always wanted a few more slaves. [Slave owner purchasing a slave]
And they didn't want to wait for a war to break out.
If customers had to wait too long, the slavers would start to get seriously bad Yelp reviews. [Man reading Yelp review]
So during those pesky times of peace, Middle Eastern slave traders bought POWs from Africa.
Whenever a major war broke out in Africa, slave traders hopped the first ship or caravan [Slave traders jump on ship]
and took advantage.
Fresh POWs were soon hauled off and packaged for resale in the Middle East. [Slaves packaged for resale]
In usual evil guy fashion, many traders tried to get around Islamic law.
No POWs available?
Just pay a local lord or bandit to kidnap orphans and homeless people. [Man kidnaps orphan]
Orphans and homeless people?
There are two populations that don’t need another kick in the ribs. [Man kicked in the ribs]
When these slaves were sold in the Middle East, slavers would fib to their Islamic customers
about where the slaves came from.
Ya know…because owning a child caught in war is so much better than one that was nabbed
off the street.
Morality is fun like that.
Islamic merchants weren't the only buyers in town, either. [Slave trader walks away with boy]
The upper classes of many empires, including Kongo and Ethiopia, got into the game too.
In particular, they liked to buy slaves to use as personal servants or laborers in mines. [Man working in a mine]
That gold wasn’t going to mine itself.
Slavery in both Islamic and non-Islamic countries was slightly less horrific than latter-day [Slaves at work]
slavery in Europe and the Americas.
Slaves in Islamic countries were often educated as administrators, professionals, and military
So…night classes? [Men working in night classes]
Also, slaves in Ethiopia and Kongo could often buy their freedom back from their masters. [Man buying freedom]
Both Islamic and non-Islamic countries also offered ways for people to leave slavery through
So most families could get out of slavery within a generation or two.
But let's just say there was enough hope that life would only suck about 87.23% instead
Either way, that makes for a depressing pie chart… [Man stood beside pie chart]