African History 4: The Effect of Slavery on West Africa
Today we'll learn about how West Africa wasn't disconnected from the rest of the world, like many people seem to think. Seriously. It's not on island or anything. Look at a map, people.
|World History||African History|
The slave industry was Godzilla-huge.
It relied on slavers, European governments, and some African kings all being in cahoots.
It also required a massive and complicated infrastructure.
In order to export millions of people, forts and dungeons needed building… [Ship carrying cargo]
Political systems needed reorganizing…
Shipping lanes needed finding…
And somebody had to find those vulnerable populations to exploit, right?
There’s a summer job we could take a pass on… [Man inspects summer job adverts]
The slavery industry was so colossal that it totally transformed West Africa.
And it seriously influenced how later West African history went down. [History of West Africa appears]
Despite what many people still think to this day, West Africa wasn’t particularly disconnected
from the rest of the world.
Though maybe it would’ve been better if it had a no talking to Europeans policy… [African man walks away from European man]
Also, West Africa wasn’t particularly backwards, primitive, undeveloped, or low-tech.
OK, it was no Silicon Valley.
But by the year 1400, African kingdoms were basically the twins of European kingdoms. [Africa and Europe in a room]
Seriously, Europe and Africa had all the same stuff.
Divinely appointed kings…
Armies of pikemen and knights…
It was the whole medieval shebang—just with more bananas and… fewer sheep. [Knights and sheep cross a road]
The reason that West Africa later came to be seen as primitive wasn't because of West
Africa's own development.
It was because the slave industry broke down settled states and laid waste to farmland.
On top of that, it stole talent and bankrupted consumers. [Slave kidnaps girl contestant]
Much of the rest of the world had excess people and wealth to develop and buy technologies.
But West Africans were struggling just to hold onto their kids.
In colonial times, anthropologists took a look at the mess that was West Africa and [Anthropologist working in a lab]
assumed it’d always been some kind of primitive wilderness.
Based on what they saw, it was inconceivable that Africa could’ve produced complex, developed
societies anywhere close to those in Europe.
But that would be like a guy walking into a house, dumping garbage on the floor, and [Man throws garbage on the floor]
…eh, guess it always stank in here…