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Handcuffs used to control slaves in the long march from the interior of the continent to the coast
"They seize numbers of our free or freed black subjects, and even nobles, sons of nobles, even the members of our own family."
Excerpt from letter from Affonso, King of Congo, to King of Portugal João III, 18 October 1526.

Within the space of four hundred years millions of people were forcibly taken from Africa as slaves. The majority of them went to the Americas, although many were taken to the Middle East and North Africa.

Slavery had been practised all over the world for thousands of years, but never before had so many people from one continent been transported to another against their will.

It is hard to be precise, but around 15 million Africans in total were forcibly taken from the continent into slavery. Large scale slave trading in Africa ceased towards the end of the 19th century, but its legacy of suffering continues today.


Listen HereListen to Roots of African Slavery, the fourteenth programme in the BBC landmark radio series The Story of Africa, presented by Hugh Quarshie

Listen HereListen to The Transatlantic Slave Trade, the fifteenth programme in the BBC landmark radio series The Story of Africa, presented by Hugh Quarshie

Listen HereListen to East African Slavery, the sixteenth programme in the BBC landmark radio series The Story of Africa, presented by Hugh Quarshie