The first contact between white explorers and native peoples is a fascinating moment, and it seems to have followed roughly the same pattern wherever it occurred. Naturally, the local was bewildered. Lips, the author of “The Savage Hits Back” was not stretching the facts when he said, “the first appearance of the white man in tribal territory produced astonishing emotions-excitement such as we might feel if we were suddenly to meet in Trafalgar Square or Times Square, beings who had descended from Mars.” To Africans the white man was an awesome and frightening spectacle.
(see link at end)…With their pale skin, the visitors fit an existing visual model for supernatural beings. That they came by sea, the realm of spirits and of the dead, reinforced this identity. That they tended to disappear quickly, stay away for long periods and then rematerialize further enhanced their mystique.
And even after the initial mystification subsided, Europeans remained at least as exotic to Africans as Africans were to them. For one thing, the Portuguese and their successors were a cornucopian source of materials and goods — metal, silk, furniture, clothing — which they exchanged for African gold and ivory. And the novelties they introduced were culture-altering.
European guns, once in African hands, drastically altered the dynamics of ethnic warfare. More prosaic objects changed elite fashion. European wood-joinery furniture was all the rage: cover a plain old armchair with African beaded fabric, and you had a royal throne. Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/arts/design/16african.html?_r=1
This white man was an awesome and frightening spectacle; often regarded as some kind of demi-god, a tribal chieftain who had returned from the ghostly kingdom of the dead and who was now endowed with magical and supernatural powers. It was not always a flattering image that was produced; the lesson was soon learned that this visitor was less than divine and that the explorer and missionary almost acted as scouts for slaver and trader. Yet often, it was a spontaneous and candid portrait that emerged, often rendered with a degree of artistic skill which the invading Europeans certainly did not possess.
It seems surprising that most of the imagery is not more unfriendly with even hints that the African, at least initially looked upon the whites not too unkindly, not as a threatening monster, but as an enlighten
nd benevolent extension of himself.
Slavery was prominent in Africa long before the beginnings of the transatlantic slave trade. The maritime town of Lagos, Portugal was created for the sale of imported African slaves 1444. In 1441, the first slaves were brought to Portugal from northern Mauritania. By the year 1552 black African slaves made up 10 percent of the population of Lisbon.
The first Europeans to use African slaves in the New World were the Spaniards. They used them on islands such as Cuba and Hispaniola, where the native populations had been decimated by smallpox. The first African slaves arrived in 1501….
According to Sir Henry Bartle Frere there were an estimated 8 million or 9 million slaves in India in 1841. In Malabar about 15% of the population were slaves. …In Mauritania (northwest Africa) alone, it is estimated that up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population, are enslaved, many of them used as bonded labor. Slavery in Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007. It should be interesting to note that it’s the lighter skinned Muslim majority (“white Moors” or bidhan) that’s enslaving the darker skinned descendants of black Africans abducted into slavery who now live in Mauritania as “black Moors” or haratin in Mauritania….
…A slave’s journey to a life of servitude often began in the interior of Africa with his or her capture as a prize of war, as tribute given by a weak tribal state to a more powerful one, or by outright kidnapping by local traders. European slave traders rarely ventured beyond Africa’s coastal regions. The African interior was riddled with disease, the natives were often hostile and the land uncharted. The Europeans preferred to stay in the coastal region and have the natives bring the slaves to them….
“Most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa are kidnapped.”
Dr. Alexander Falconbridge served as the surgeon aboard a number of slave ships that plied their trade between the West African coast and the Caribbean in the late 1700s. He described his experiences in a popular book published in 1788. He became active in the Anti-Slavery Society and was appointed Governor of a colony established for freed slaves on the coast of modern-day Sierra Leone. His service was brief as he died in 1788 shortly after his appointment. We join his story as he describes the process through which the native African looses his freedom:…
“There is great reason to believe, that most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa, are kidnapped. But the extreme care taken by the black traders to prevent the Europeans from gaining any intelligence of their modes of proceeding; the great distance inland from whence the Negroes are brought; and our ignorance of their language (with which, very frequently, the black traders themselves are equally unacquainted), prevent our obtaining such information on this head as we could wish. I have, however, by means of occasional inquiries, made through interpreters, procured some intelligence relative to the point. . . . From these I shall select the following striking instances: While I was in employ on board one of the slave ships, a Negro informed me that being one evening invited to drink with some of the black traders, upon his going away, they attempted to seize him. As he was very active, he evaded their design, and got out of their hands. He was, however, prevented from effecting his escape by a large dog, which laid hold of him, and compelled him to submit. These creatures are kept by many of the traders for that purpose; and being trained to the inhuman sport, they appear to be much pleased with it….Read More:http://www.saveyourheritage.com/slavery.htm