Monday, December 19, 2022


  Eli-express       Monday, December 19, 2022

There are divergent views that have been advanced by various historians regarding the African continent when it came into contact with capitalist in Europe.

According to Eurocentric scholars, they claimed that before the advent of colonial rule, African societies didn’t have any kind of development.

However, African scholars argued that the continent had achieved a significant level of development in economic, social and political aspects.

Development can be defined as the improvement in economic, social and political aspects.



There are strong evidences of trading activities in pre colonial Africa. There were different types of trade i.e. local and long distance trade. Local trade was the type of trade that was conducted within a given community.

Long distance trade was the type of trade which took place between one region and another. There was a long distance trade in east Africa which took place between the interior and coastal people of east Africa.

The main participants were the kamba and nyamwezi from the interior and the Arabs and Swahili traders from the coast.


By the fifteen century agriculture had developed in Africa. There were various types of agriculture in pre colonial Africa. These included permanent crop cultivation and shifting cultivation.

Permanent crop cultivation took place in areas that received a lot of rainfall and fertile land.  Mixed farming took place in those areas  whose soil lost its fertility easily, thus forcing the farmers to shift from one piece of land to another land looking for fertile land. Mixed farming was widely practiced in the savanna region.

Manufacturing industries.

By the 15th century Africa had developed a number of manufacturing industries such as salt making and copper mining. Salt making took place at Tagaza and Bilma in West Africa and uvinza in Tanganyika. Salt was not only used as an ingredient but also for preserving perishables.

Copper mining activities found in Africa by the 15th century. Copper was only used for making ornaments. In central Africa, the Katanga region was famous for mining and processing copper. Copper mining also took place along the Gwai River in Zimbabwe

Maritime technology.

To a certain extent African societies had developed maritime technology, this was around water bodies. The societies that had acquired this technology are the Ganda and kerewe in east Africa; these were making canoes that facilitated their movement along rivers and lakes.

Iron technology.

By the 15th century most parts of Africa had developed the art of making iron and using iron. In Africa the knowledge of making iron and use of iron tools developed at different times and at different places. The first places to use iron were Ethiopians and Egyptians. At around 200BC Meroe & Axum became important sector for the production of iron


During the 15th century, there were various political organizations in pre colonial Africa. This included the following:

Age set system.

This refers to the allocation of social functions according to sex and age groups. This system was mainly practiced by pastoral societies such as the Maasai of east Africa. The Maasai assigned social functions according to age groups. Example; from age of 0 – 8 no social functions were given, from 8 – 18 years, the boys were supposed to graze the animals.

Clan organization.

This refers to control by clan head. This system mainly developed in the savanna region. The main economic activities were mixed farming and shifting cultivation. Mixed farming involved the cultivation of crops and animal keeping. Shifting cultivation involved the movement from one place to another searching for fertile land because the soil easily loses its fertility. Shifting cultivation made land very important, therefore societies needed strong leadership that would control and distribute land thus the rise of clan organization.

State organization.

The state is a large political unity with a heterogeneous population having a centralized system with powers to collect tributes. Most of the states in Africa were formed in the interlacustrine region which received heavy rainfall throughout the year. This type of environment supported the increase in production that led to increase in population thus contributing to the formation of states such as Buganda and Karagwe in east Africa.



Both were ruled by kings or queen or chiefs – Example, Mani Nzinga – Congo.

Function of the king were the same, In protection of citizens and defense for security for

Both defend or encourage exploitation of serfs by land lords.

Both encourage trade. Example: In Africa, were engage in long distance trade and In Europe – mercantile trade.


Duration of the modal/ centralized state. In Africa it was in pre- mature but in Europe of was reached, its mature

Emergence of merchants who challenged the rolling class while in Africa was not so

In Europe was Broad rolling class (complex) but in Africa was very parochial.

In Europe states Formation appeared after the turn of Roman empire for disintegration of slavery (and of slavery in Europe in Africa was not produced as a mode of production.

In Europe 15th , there was great changes in Feudalism, It was highest peak and break down to give room to capitalism.

Enclosure system in Europe while in Africa was not so

Highest level of education in Europe than Africa.


This refers to the transmission of skills, knowledge and norms from one generation to the other. By the 15th century Africa had its own education system which was largely informal in character. The young people acquired knowledge by imitating the behavior of the elders. However it should be noted that there was literacy in pre colonial Africa especially along the Nile River in Egypt and Mali


There is strong evidence that by the 15th century Africa had its own religion. Religious ceremonies were presided over by community elders, Example the laibon of the Maasai and the clan heads of clan organization. These elders were responsible for supervising religious ceremonies like organizing sacrifices.


Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to specialization where by a group of people emerged and specialized in different economic activities. For example in Africa they emerged a group of specialized in agriculture, fishing, iron melting, pastoralism and trade as well as in Europe there was emerged of groups of people who specialized in different economic activities such as traders (merchant kings), people who specialized in farming etc.

Both trade found in Africa and Europe during the 15thC led to the development of science and technology in African and European societies. For Example It led to the development of ship building and, marine technology and compass bearing where by traders used advanced to travel in other parts of the world to look for raw materials, market, cheap labour etc. while in Africa there was development of different science and technologies which enabled traders to travel from one areas to another. For Example In West Africa traders across Trans-Saharan desert used camels from (West Africa) to (North Africa) used horse as means of transport.

Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to emergence of state (state formation). For example in Africa Ghana, Songhai, Mali, Oyo, Benin, Mwanamutapa empire, Mirambo empire as well as in Europe there was emergence of states  especially in Britain and later on in France due to the trade. In Addition to that, the trade found in both Africa and Europe led to emergence of trading centers and growth of towns which later led to urbanization in both Africa and Europe. Example in Dodoma, Walata, Gao, Jere, but we also had some towns like Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Kilwa, Pete, Lamu etc. as well as in Europe there ware towns due to trade such as Liverpool, Yorkshire, Manchester, Venice, etc.

Both trades in Africa and Europe lead to emergence of good and strong leaders who later controlled the state for example in Africa Mansa Kankan Musa (Mali), Askia Mohamed (Songhai), and Mwenemutapa (Mwenemutapa Empire).

Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to emergence of strong army, which was well disciplined to protect state and its routes for example in Britain there was emergence of navy army.

Both trades found in Africa and Europe led to emergence of people who later became rich because of being involving in the system of exchange in the societies. For Example Kings and individual traders who involved were involved in the trade became rich. For Example in Africa Mansa Musa, Askia, Samouri Toure, Mirambo, Mwenemutapa and In Europe Kings also became rich because they got much profit from trade.

Both trades found in Africa and Europe led emergence of strong faith because the trade lead to unity among the people in the society. For example, the Trans-Saharan trade in Africa led to emergence of Islamic faith West and North Africa while in some East African societies there was emergence of Christianity due long distance trade (LTD) as well as in Europe there were emergence of Christianity due to trade conducted between European societies.

Trades especially in Europe during 15thC lead to the growth of industries where by different industries were built using the wealth accumulated from trade. For Example Textile industries, Agricultural equipment industries.etc

Trade especially in Europe led to establishment of financial institutions like banks such as Barclays, House Lord in Britain after the merchant Kings and other. Traders had accumulated profit from the trade conducted between European nations and other continents of the world.


The trade led to stagnation of African technology simply because Africans who were skillful and knowledgeable were taken as slaves to offer their labour in big plantations and mining established by European absentee owners in America during the 15thC.

The Trade also led to exploitation of African natural resources such as minerals, raw materials etc was taken specifically for the development of European nations.

It led to destruction of African culture and introduction of European culture in Africa because it was during this contact African way of living, Europeans destroyed dressing style, marriage, Etc. as Africans began to imitate what Europeans brought to African societies.

Trade contact led to fall and rise of some African states. African states which existed before the contact between Africa and Europe during the 15thC collapsed like western sudanic states (Ghana, Songhai.etc.) while some other African states like Dahomey emerged due to the fact that their leaders and prosperity of the state depended on the triangular slave trade.

Trade lead to the collapse of African trade that existed before the 15thC  hence led to underdevelopment of African continent and development of European nations simply because it was that trade that culminated the situation for European development in all aspects (socially, economically and politically) and African underdevelopment in all aspects.

The Contact paved way for African colonization simply because this trade is the one which led to the influx of agents of colonialism such as trades, missionaries and explorers started their colonial ambition in Africa to explore the potential areas such as agricultural areas, mineral areas, lakes (water bodies) etc. hence colonialism.



Both Africa and Europe had developed in medicine technology to cure various diseases whereby they use roots, herbs and drugs to cure some diseases like malaria, cholera, etc.

Both societies had developed in iron technology where by some agricultural tools and many things were made both in Africa and Europe; example in Africa iron technology was found in Mwenemutapa Empire, Engaruka and in Britain, France.etc.

Both in Africa and Europe societies engaged in cultivation of crops; for example in Egypt there was a high development of farming activities especially through irrigation system along the river Nile especially during the dry seasons. In Zambezi basin there was agricultural development in which people practiced intensive terracing farming and in Europe there was use of irrigation system and use of scientific methods of farming during enclosure system

Both societies engaged in handcraft activities for example both societies made things like pots, baskets, mats and other vessels for their own development.

Both societies developed in navigation technology for example in Europe there was ship building industries compass direction and compass bearing where by European merchant were used to cut across big seas and ocean while in Africa societies used canoes and dhows as the major means of water transport. For example along Nile river, along the shore of Lake Victoria, Tanganyika, Nyasa.etc. Canoes were used for fishing and ferrying people and goods from one place to another.

Both societies (Africa and Europe) had developed in an architecture engineering technology. For example in the ancient Mwenemutapa Empire around Zimbabwe, Egypt and Sudan there were great architecture technology. for example in Zimbabwe they built 30/20 feet high by using stones and in Egypt at Giza plateau near Cairo the great pyramids consisted of two million of block of stones each weighing more than two tones like in Europe there were big buildings found in big towns of Europe like Paris, London.etc.

Both societies made weapons for self defense, security and conquering weak states; for example both societies made weapons like swords, arrows, axes, spears, machetes, aves, shields and matchet guns.


European societies were highly developed in animal breeding under enclosure system while Africa had not developed animal breeding under enclosure system.

Africans were highly advanced in animal husbandry than European societies this might be even up to now.

European societies were in transition from domestic (Cottage industries) to factory system (big manufacturing industries) than in Africa where there is no any sign of transition to factory system.

European societies were advanced more in navigation technology than in Africa. for example by the 15thC European societies had ship building technology, compass direction and compass bearing which helped European merchant to cut across big oceans and seas to trade with other societies of the world while Africans used canoes to paddle and dhows in order to navigate in big rivers and along the shores of lakes and oceans.

Europeans were more advanced in gun making and bombs than Africans; the gun smiths were better than those of Africa in 15thC. This shows the reason why the Europeans (particularly the Portuguese) managed to defeat African societies easily along the coast of Indian Ocean and managed to establish city-states along East African coast.



In both cases the major means of production were controlled by the feudal lords; land for example was controlled by the feudal lords. For the peasants to use it they had to pay rent such as rent in kind, where they had to give part of the produce to the feudal lords for using their lands. There were also rent in labor, where the peasants had to work on the land lords for specified period of time.

In both cases feudalism was characterized by the existence of trading activities. In Africa there was the long distance trade which was conducted between the people of interior and coastal people of east Africa. In Europe there was mercantilism which involved conducting trade oversea searching for precious metals such as gold and silver.

In both cases feudalism was characterized by the use of improved productive forces though the productive forces in Europe were more advanced than those in Africa. The use of better tools for production contributed to higher levels of production.

In both cases feudalism was characterized by the exploitation of man by man. The peasants were exploited through the payment of rent. The peasant did not have land, thus they had to use the land of the landlords but they had to pay rent, such as rent in kind and rent in labor. It should be noted that, landlord took a bigger share than the peasants who were directly involved in the production process.

In both cases feudalism was characterized by the existence of large political system such as states. The formation of states was due to surplus accumulation that supported increase in population thus forming states such as Buganda in east Africa and Spain in Europe.


Feudalism in Europe took place between the 9th and 14th centuries while in Africa it took place between the 15th and 19th centuries, thus feudalism in Europe was stronger than in Africa. At the time when feudalism was emerging in Africa, it was ending in Europe paving way for the rise of capitalism.

Feudalism in Europe was characterized by progressive technology while in Africa it was characterized by low levels of technology. In Europe, by the 15th they had developed the art of ship building which enabled them to conduct trading activities abroad.

Feudalism in Europe emerged directly from slavery while in Africa, most of the societies transformed from the communal mode of production. This explains why the slave mode was not well developed in Africa.

In Europe feudalism was characterized by a strong class structure and class struggle. There were two dominant classes which were antagonist to each other; these classes are the feudal lords and peasants. There was also class of the serfs. In Africa there were no sharp distinctions between these classes.

Feudalism in Europe was characterized by development of cottage industries which were later transformed into big capitalist industries while in Africa there were handcraft industries such as salt making and iron working.


Trade refers to the exchange of goods and services or the buying and selling of goods and services. Trade emerged in pre colonial Africa because no single society could produce all the goods it needed; societies produced those goods that they could produce and obtain those they could not produce through trade. There various trading activities in Africa before its contact with the colonialists.

There were various types of trade in pre colonial Africa; these were the local trade and long distance trade. Local trade was the type of trade that was conducted within a given community. The long distance trade was that type of trade that took place between two or more regions.


This was that type of trade that took place between the interior and the coastal people in east Africa. The main participants were the Baganda, Kamba, Yao and Nyamwezi from the interior and the Arabs and Swahili traders from the coast. The main types of goods that were exchanged were ivory and slaves from the interior and guns, clothes and beads from the cost.

Impacts of the long distance trade in East Africa

Formation of states.

The long distance trade contributed to the formation of states such as Karagwe and Buganda. The trade introduced guns that facilitated conquest and expansion thus forming states. The chiefs who took part in the long distance trade acquired wealth that facilitated the formation of states.

Development of towns.

The long distance trade contributed to the development of towns such as Bagamoyo, ujiji and Tabora. These centers used to act as trading centers were the exchange of goods especially slaves took place. These centers gradually turned into towns because they attracted large numbers of people.

Introduction of Islam.

It led to the introduction and spread of Islam in the interior of east Africa. The Arabs who came from the coast spread this religion. Islam up to now has a strong influence along the coast of east Africa were many people became Muslims, the way of eating and dressing depicts the ways of life of the Muslims.

Development of the Kiswahili language.

The long distance trade contributed to the development of Kiswahili language. The language has some Arabic words that are developed it. Kiswahili came to be the language used by the merchants over large areas of east Africa. The influence of Kiswahili in east Africa has widely grown; it is the national language of Tanzania.

Opening of East Africa to the outside world.

The long distance trade opened the interior of east African to the outside world. The people of east Africa supplied products that were needed outside, example slaves and gold received products from outside east Africa, example guns and clothes. The incorporation of east African to the outside world contributed to its under development.

Increased influx of foreigners in Africa.

The long distance trade led to the increased influx of foreigners such as the Arabs and Europeans. All these were rushing to east Africa to take part in the trade. It was nothing than that; these Europeans contributed to the colonization of Africa.  


The long distance trade brought the Arabs to the coast of East Africa who intermarried with the Africans to produce mulattoes.

The participants became rich.

Those who participated in the long distance trade became very rich especially African chiefs. Chiefs like Tippu Tip and Musiri accumulated a lot of wealth from the long distance trade which was used to build strong states in Africa.



Mercantilism refers to an economic system of conducting trade over sea searching for gold and silver which led to the commercial revolution which was characterized with expansion of trading activities. Mercantilism was based on primitive accumulation of capital. The major participants in mercantile activities were Portugal, Spain, Britain and Holland.

Features of mercantilism


The policy of mercantilism was based on attracting large amounts of precious metals, gold and silver. The Portuguese and the Spanish made voyages to Africa and America simply searching for gold and silver that were needed in Europe.


Mercantilism was based on the belief of conducting commerce overseas so as to acquire gold and silver. It was this policy of expansionism which led to discovering of America by Spanish and Africa by the Portuguese.


It was adopted so as to protect countries‟ markets through navigation acts. The acts were implemented in the late 17th century to protect home market and ensure enough supply of raw materials. Any country which wanted to sell its goods to Britain or her colonies overseas, had to use British ships were they had to pay the fee. This was to discourage other countries from trading with her.

Militarism and national rivalry.

Mercantilism was based on primitive accumulation of capital by using methods such as piracy and plundering. These activities forced Europeans countries to create strong armies to protect the merchants from being robbed. Mercantilism was also characterized by national rivalry, whereby countries went to war searching for gold and silver. Example the French fought with the British over the control of Canada.

Formation of national states or national unification.

Mercantilism forced European countries to form national states. It led to the rise of strong monarchical states that would be able to compete effectively with other European nations. Britain united with Wales, Scotland and Ireland to form the United Kingdom.

Unequal exchange

Mercantilism was based on unequal exchange; the European countries took valuable items of trade such as gold, ivory and slaves from Africa and bought back inferior items such as beads and looking mirrors.


There are various factors that contributed to the rise of mercantilism in Europe;

Improvement of science and technology.

This played a great role to the rise of mercantilism. Maritime technology made it possible for the European countries to conduct trade overseas. The ships enabled the transportation of large quantities of goods to various countries in the world.

Development of internal trade.

The development of internal trade contributed significantly to the rise of mercantilism because it introduced various items of trade. These goods were exchanged with other goods during the Trans – Atlantic slave trade, the Europeans provided Africans with clothes and spirit in return for goods such as gold and silver.

Enclosure system.

The enclosure system involved passing laws by the parliament whereby wealthy land owners bought land from the peasants. The small peasants and common land in villages of Britain had to be grouped together and out under individual capitalist‟s farms. The enclosure system increased agricultural production that facilitated trading activities.

Development of the banking system.

There were various banks that were established in Britain e.g. Barclays bank. These banks contributed to the rise of mercantilism by providing loans and grants to the merchants who wanted to trade overseas.

Rise of nation states.

The rise of nation states contributed to the rise of mercantilism in Europe. European monarchies such as the Tudor monarchy played a great role in the rise of mercantilism by giving security to the merchants which encouraged them to engage in mercantile activities.

Geographical discoveries.

This was made by different scholars, contributed to the rise of mercantilism. Christopher Columbus discovered America which was followed by the establishment of capitalist enterprises such as farms and mining which encouraged trading activities.

Rise of the Trans Atlantic slave trade.

The Trans Atlantic slave trade was an economic system that involved three continents i.e. Africa, Europe and America. The trading system consolidated mercantilism by making it possible for European countries to trade with Africa and America. Africa provided slaves, America produced raw materials and Europe provided manufactured goods.


Before the industrial revolution, the dominant form of capital in Western Europe was merchant capital, it was capital obtained from trade. Western Europe came into contact with the rest of the world through trade; this system of trade is known as mercantilism.

The development of mercantilism in England went through two faces namely;

  1. First phase which took place from mid 15th C – mid 17th
  2. Second phase which took place from mid 17th C – mid 18th

The first phase was associated with the Tudor monarchy was an English dynasty that descended from King Henry VII to Elizabeth I.

The Tudor monarchy played a significant role in the rise of mercantilism in England.

 Acquisition of colonies.

The Tudor monarchy helped the merchants to acquire colonies. Colonies were important in the whole system of mercantilism because they provided markets and raw materials such as gold and silver which were needed by the merchants.

Chartered trading companies.

The Tudor monarchy charted trading companies had given them exclusive rights to trade all over the world. The most importance of these companies were the royal Africa company charted in 1588 in order to organize slave trade and east India company chartered in 1600 for trading with India and the far east including china and Japan.

Set up navigation acts.

The Tudor monarchy set up navigational acts of the 17th C which were introduced to monopolize the rights to transport goods into and from the colonies as well as the profits obtained from transportation between the mother land and the colony.

Ensured constant supply of wool.

The Tudor monarchy assured the merchants constant supply of wool by stopping the export of wool. Wool was important as a raw material in the textile industries. The textile industries were very important during the early days of the industrial revolution in Britain.

Promoted organization.

The Tudor monarchy provided organization of merchant groups for the exploitation and settlement in the new world. By the 17th C, many Britons were investing overseas, these included members of parliament and merchants.


The Tudor monarchy assured the merchants protection on the high seas from pirates. Mercantilism was characterized with primitive accumulation of capital; one of the methods used to acquire capital was piracy, thus the assurance of protection encouraged the merchants to engage in trade.

Provided loans.

The Tudor monarchy provided loans and grants to the merchants, the provisions of loans and grants encouraged the merchants to engage in mercantile activities thus leading to the development of mercantilism in Britain.

Developed and consolidated maritime technology.

The Tudor monarchy contributed to the development of mercantilism in Britain by developing and consolidating maritime technology. Maritime technology made it possible for the merchants to trade overseas with Africa and America thus the rise of mercantilism.

Discarded feudal elements.

The Tudor monarchy abandoned feudal elements and promoted capitalism, this led to the emergency of the merchant class. The merchant class conducted trade overseas which contributed to the rise of mercantilism.

Sources of primitive accumulation of capital during mercantilism

Long distance trade.

The capitalists obtained capital from the long distance trade that was conducted among various continents such as Africa, America and Asia. This was the Trans Atlantic slave trade. European countries acquired capital by accumulating precious metals such as gold and silver which was based on unequal exchange.


These wars were fought between the Muslims and the Christians from the 11th to 12th centuries. The Christians claimed that these were holly wars which aimed at the holly lands from the Arabs. It should be noted that the wars were accompanied with massive looting which formed the basis of primitive accumulation of capital.

Confiscation of church property.

The church in England controlled large estates of land but between 1535 and 1539 AD. King Henry VIII following the advice of his chief minister Thomas Cromwell decided to confiscate church property. The land was grabbed and sold to the capitalist; this capital was acquired by using primitive means.

Feudal wars.

The feudal wars were very common in Europe especially between 1337 and 1453 AD. There was the hundred year‟s war between the French and the British monarchies. These wars were characterized with plundering and looting which help the European powers to accumulate capital that contributed to the rise of capitalism.  

Enclosure system.

This system involved evicting peasants and serfs from their land. The land was sold to the capitalist who organized it into compact forms and enclosed it. The enclosure system contributed to the improvement of the agriculture sector which led to the rise of the industrial revolution, but the eviction of the peasants and serfs was a primitive act.

Protectionist policies.

Mercantilism was associated with protectionism especially in England which was the major power during the mercantile period. The Tudor monarchy introduced navigational acts that denied other countries from trading freely with England and her colonies. This aimed at protecting the British interests.


Britain was the most successful nation in Europe in mercantile trade especially during the second phase which took place between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Britain was also the first country to industrialize because it was very active during mercantilism. There are many factors that aided Britain to dominate mercantilism in Europe or the world.

Role of Tudor monarchy.

The Tudor monarchy played a great role in the development of mercantilism in Britain and ensuring that the country became the most powerful during the mercantile period. The monarchy acquired colonies that provided raw materials and markets to the merchants and it also promoted political stability that encouraged domestic production.

Development of maritime technology.

Maritime technology first developed on a larger scale in Britain then it spread to other countries. Maritime technology facilitated inters–continental trade that greatly contributed to the development of mercantilism in Britain. Ever since the 14th C Britain has been enjoying an extra advantage over navy supremacy than other European nations and used this advantage to dominate mercantile trade.

Increase in internal production.

There are various changes that took place in the agricultural and industrial sectors in Britain. These changes boosted internal production that stimulated trade with other countries. Britain traded with north and South America, Asia and Africa thus she was able to dominate other countries in mercantile activities.

Acquisition of colonies.

Britain had so many colonies in Africa, America and China. These colonies guaranteed the merchants sources of raw material and markets thus leading to the development of mercantilism in Britain.

Imposition of protective tariffs.

The establishment of navigation acts of the 17th C provided moral and material support to the merchants by protecting them from competition. By this law, all goods exported to British colonies had to be carried by British ships and all goods from British colonies were supposed to be shipped first to Britain before exporting them to other countries. The navigation acts played a crucial role in helping Britain to dominate mercantilism.

Enclosure system.

Britain was the first country to implement the enclosure system in the 16th century. The enclosure system involved grouping all peasants and common land in the villages in two compact forms, this land was subjected to commercial production. The enclosure system led to increase in production which contributed to the development of mercantilism.

Exploitation of other countries.

Britain was able to exploit heavily the weak nations, Portugal depended heavily on the military support from Britain against her rivals such as Spain and in return Britain got economic gains. These activities contributed to the development of mercantilism in Britain.


This refers to the type of trade that involved three continents Africa, America and Europe. In this trading system, Africa was the source of cheap labor which was in the form slaves. America was the source of raw materials and Europe was the source of manufactured goods, hence the triangle. The main participants were Britain, France, Holland and Portugal. Origin

There are various factors that contributed to the rise of the Trans Atlantic slave trade

Discovery of the new world.

The discovery of the new world that is America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 contributed to the rise of Trans Atlantic slave trade. The Europeans rushed to America and established plantations and mining centers which demanded for labor, this necessitated the importation of Africans thus the beginning of the Trans Atlantic slave trade.

Discovery of maritime technology.

The discovery of the art of making ships and compass direction played a fundamental role in the rise of the Trans Atlantic slave trade, this technology made it possible for Europeans to trade with various countries across the Atlantic Ocean.

The inability of the indigenous people.

At first the Europeans were using Native Americans, red Indians to provide cheap labor on the plantations and mining centers; but these later died in huge numbers due to plague. This called for the importation of African slaves which contributed to the rise of the Trans Atlantic slave trade.

The establishment of plantations.

After the discovery of the new world, many Europeans flocked to America; these included the British, French, Portuguese and the Dutch. Many of these immigrants established plantations that caused more demand for slave labor. The increased demand contributed to the development of Trans–Atlantic slave trade


The accessibility between the new world and the West African coast facilitated the rise of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The distance from West Africa to the new world is very narrow thus it made it possible for the transportation of goods between the two regions.


The Trans Atlantic slave trade was a disaster to Africa. It is one of the factors which contributed to under development in Africa.

Economic effects

Removal of African labor; The Trans Atlantic slave trade was associated with the uprooting of many Africans who were taken to provide cheap labor on European plantations in America. The ones who were taken were between the ages of 15 and 35 who made up the productive force in Africa.

Stagnation of African technology; The Trans Atlantic slave trade contributed to the stagnation of African technology. It led to the flooding of European manufactured goods which were exchanged for slaves. Due to these goods , the Africans found it easier to sell their fellow Africans in exchange for manufactured goods hence they neglected production which led to the stagnation of African technology.

Decline of African agricultural production; There was decline in agricultural production due to the loss of labor. Those who were taken as slaves were the ones who were very active in farms, thus their removal led to shortage of labor consequently causing the decline in agricultural production.

Decline of African traditional industries; It contributed to the decline of African traditional industries due to the flooding of European manufactured goods. Due to these goods Africans abandoned production and exchanged their fellow Africans with the Europeans goods. The manufactured goods from Europe also destroyed African traditional industries by killing the market for African local goods.

Insecurity; The major item of trade during the Trans–Atlantic slave trade was slaves. The slaves were acquired through release of ambushing and raiding various villages, these activities contributed to insecurity which disrupted trade and agriculture.

Social effects

Depopulation; It led to depopulation because millions of Africans were uprooted and exported to America as cheap labor. It is believed that during the 400 years of slave trade, around 100,000,000 Africans were taken as slaves.

Famine; The Trans Atlantic slave trade contributed to famine in Africa. The trade was characterized with insecurity because of slave trading activities, the insecurity made it difficult for people to engage in agricultural production.

Erosion of African culture;   The Trans Atlantic slave trade was associated with an influx of foreigners especially Europeans. This led to a destruction of African traditional values because Africans were coping European culture.

Break down families; There was break down of families because various members were taken as slaves.

Political effects

Fall of states; The Trans Atlantic slave trade contributed to the collapse of some states in West Africa, these included Oyo and Benin. These states collapsed because of slave trading activities which led to famine and depopulation consequently leading their decline.


Mercantilism had great impact in the development of industrial revolution and the eventual transformation of European countries into big powers. The European countries accumulated capital for around 300 years. It should be noted that mercantilism was a blessing to Europe, but a tragedy to Africa. The contribution of mercantile trade to the developing of European industrial capitalism included the following;

Accumulation capital.

The European countries acquired a lot of capital from mercantilism. The countries were able to accumulate a lot of capital throughout the 300 years of mercantilism through unequal exchange, the obtained precious metals such as gold, silver and diamond which they used to finance the industrial revolution.

Source of cheap labour.

Mercantilism was associated with slave trade, during this period millions of Africans were uprooted and exported to America, where they provided cheap labor in mines and plantations of sugarcane and coffee belonging to European absentee capitalists.

Supply of raw materials.

Mercantilism contributed to the rise of capitalism by supplying raw materials that were needed by European industries. Raw materials such as gold, tobacco, sugar cane and cotton were obtained from Africa and America. These raw materials played a great role in the rise of industrial revolution.

Development of science and technology.

Mercantilism was associated with maritime technology that led to the development of science and technology. The ships enabled the transportation of large quantities of raw materials and manufactured goods over long distances. This played a great role in the rise of industrial revolution.

Development of towns and cities.

Mercantilism contributed to the development of towns and cities in Europe. These towns developed due to the booming trade that existed in that period. The towns include the following; Manchester, Liverpool, Nantes and Bordeaux. These towns attracted the establishment of industries which contributed to the rise of capitalism.

Development of financial institutions.

Mercantilism contributed to the development of financial institutions. Part of the money which was used to establish Barclays bank in England was obtained from slave trade during mercantilism. This financial institution played a great role in the rise of capitalism by providing loans and credit to people who wanted to invest.

Development of agricultural sector.

Mercantilism was associated with new farming methods and agricultural sector. The wealth accumulated from mercantilism was invested in agricultural sector thus contributing to the agrarian revolution. The agrarian revolution played a leading in the development of capitalism.

Rise of aristocratic class.

The most successful merchants during mercantilism became rulers by staging political revolution such as the English revolution of the 1640 and the French revolution of 1789 that over threw despotic regimes. The new governments that were controlled by merchants abolished feudalism and introduced capitalist relation of production.

Minting of coin money.

The golden silver that was obtained in mercantilism was used to mint coin money. This money formed the basis of capital accumulation that later financed industrial revolution in Europe.


Development is many sided process from low level to high level of development in all aspects of life (politically, economically and socially).

Is a progressive change from low level to high level or is a sudden/gradual change from low level to high level.

Many Historians like Walter Rodney argue that from the 15thc onward African continent was left behind in all aspects of life due to the following reasons.


Mercantilism is an economic policy conducted through overseas trade where by gold and silver (precious metals) were accumulated and used as coins by European coins by European merchants through primitive accumulation of capital like piracy, kidnapping, looting etc. The trade was conducted between Africa, Europe and America.

Slave trade.

As a process of buying and selling of human beings as commodities led to the widening gap between Africa and Europe. Several slave trade activities were conducted in Africa such as The Trans-Atlantic slave trade, East African slave trade. Because of slave trade Africans who were productive in the economy were taken to offer their labour in the mines and plantation established by European capitalists in countries such as USA, Canada,Brazil etc.

The mines and plantations were producing raw materials to feed European industries. Slave trade removed labour force from Africa which was highly needed if Africa was to achieve development in all aspects hence widening a gap between Africa and Europe.

Unequal exchange.

Unequal exchange during mercantilism was one among the factors for the widening gap. there was inequality of exchange that existed between Africa and Europe from the 15thC onwards which led to widen gap For Example The Africans supplied valuable goods such as gold, ivory, silver, diamond, etc. t

o Europeans while Europeans supplied commodities with low value mostly they supplied luxurious and consumable goods such as alcohol, out dated guns, looking mirrors, ornaments and clothes which had no or less potential to the socio-economic development of Africa.

Primitive accumulation of capital.

During mercantilism European merchants with the help of their nations could travel to Africa and other continents where they accumulated wealth through primitive ways of accumulating wealth such as looting, crusade, plundering, and piracy.etc. Sometimes they conquered the weak states found in Africa and accumulated wealth, It should be remembered that the wealth accumulated was used to develop industries and infrastructures in Europe hence widen the gap.

The European Marine technology.

During the 15thC during the mercantilism; the marine technology was more advanced in Europe. Because of newly invented technology it led to widening of the gap. Example the introduction of geographical maps, compass direction and sea going vessel enabled the European merchants to travel across the oceans example Vasco Dagama who travelled to different parts of the world, Christopher Columbus who discovered the new world

. The European traders travelled to different parts of the world searching for markets, raw materials and areas for investment. This enabled them to accumulate a lot of capital that they used to invest in their countries‟ development.

Emergence of European merchant kings.

Emergence of European merchant kings who were interested in trade ventures to a large extent led the widening of gap between Africa and Europe; because European merchants could travel widely in different parts of the world and accumulate wealth and capital and later the capital accumulated by the European merchant kings was invested in economic sectors.

Merchant kings were such as King Henry the navigator of Portugal, The Tudor Monarchy in England especially King Henry VII and many others .These European merchant were vigorously supported by their government and hence the accumulated a lot of wealth for European development hence resulted to widen gap between Europe and Africa.


Colonialism is a situation where by a strong nations dominate the weak nations economically, socially and politically which was established in Africa from the second half of 19thC led to the underdevelopment of African countries as follows:-

Stagnation and destruction of African technology.

Africans who were skilled, knowledgeable, and trained were taken to the plantations and mines to work as cheap labors also colonialists introduced laws that destroyed African technology such as chopping, imposing and brutal punishment to people who got involved in practicing African technology. Example in Congo people who were making clothes and melting iron were chopped off their hands .All this was done to kill African technology.

Exploitation of African resources.

During colonialist Europeans got Africa as place where they could get areas for market, labor, raw materials,areas for investment of their surplus capital and areas for settling their excess population hence Europeans got a lot of wealth and capital from African continent for their own development of Africa.

Introduction of legitimate trade in Africa.

After the abolition of slave trade there was introduction of legitimate trade which was also unequal trade. It involved exchange of natural products (agricultural and mineral Conference (1884-1885).With legitimate trade intensive exploitation of African resources took place. Africans supplied raw materials such as rubber, cocoa, groundnuts palm oil etc. and minerals to the Europeans such as silver, gold, copper etc. This enabled Europeans to accumulate wealth and made Africa a place for satisfying European capitalist demands.


Neo colonialism is the process whereby a country is independent politically but economically still dominated by the strong nations; sometimes neo colonialism is known as flag independence simply because these nations which are weak economically have no power to decide concerning their own development.

African leaders acting as puppet leaders for their former colonial masters.

The Fact that some African leaders after independence are still cooperating with the Europeans to exploit African resources and protect the interests of Europeans. Example the late Mobutu Seseseko in former Zaire now DRC; corrupted resources for France and for himself, Fodey Senko of Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor of Liberia.

Also Neo Colonialism is also used by the economically developed countries such as USA which has world‟s financial institutions (like International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to devaluate local currencies in Africa and giving hard conditions to African countries so that they can  ensure that Africa remains underdeveloped and dependent.


This also led to underdevelopment of African continent and development of European continent. Globalization is the process which increases interconnection of the people all over the world. Through globalization Africa has become a market for European manufactured goods that have low quality and also it has resulted to the deterioration of African culture.


It led to introduction of an increased slave trade in Africa.

Led to increase and expansion of unequal exchange between Africa and Europe.

It has led to destruction of African technology and local industries.

Led to destruction of African culture and introduction of European culture.

Led to introduction of legitimate trade after the abolition of slave trade in which Africans continued to be affected.

It led to introduction of colonialism in Africa.

African continent is still a market of European manufactured goods, and area to invest capital and a dumping place for European outdated products and goods of low quality.

Through neo – colonialism African continent is still dominated by big powers in all aspects of life by using ways such as     militarism where by European former colonial masters tend to come to Africa for peace keeping and training African soldiers, through(Structural Adjustment Program(SAP).




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