The development of slave-based states and economies

Africans could become slaves:

  • as punishments for a crime
  • as payment for a family debt
  • most commonly as a result of being held captive as prisoners of war

Some societies preyed on others to obtain captives to exchange for firearms. They believed they had to acquire firearms in this way to protect themselves from attack and capture by rivals.

Slavery within African society grew in parallel with the Atlantic slave trade. As the demand of the Atlantic trade grew, more societies accommodated themselves to the trade in slaves. Most of the slaves retained within African societies were women and children. Their burden of work increased as a result.