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Forum 4 : Slavery

Over a period of four hundred years at least 15 million Africans were caught up in the slave trade. Many died crossing the Atlantic, while others perished on the plantations.

Is it possible to put a price on these historical injustices. If so, who should pay whom? Should African governments benefit? Should the descendants of African slave traders be penalised? Can the slave trade be called a Holocaust when the intention of slave traders was not to kill African slaves, but keep them alive to generate profit?

What happened to the German-Jews cannot be compared to what happened to Africa our mother land. Africa deserves better compensation from Britain, Germany, France, Portugal and all those who were directly involved in the slave trade. Because people think the Jews were a better race then us their compersation is be paid to them. I think the white race is an animal race because they don`t think.
Godwin, Ghana

Saying that the Whites of America - most of whom are of Polish/Irish/German/Italian origin - should pay for acts that had been committed long before they themselves even arrived in America is utter rubbish. If that is the case, shouldn't all Britons - Black, White, Oriental and Asian - make a payment to me as compensation for the Irish potato famine??
Mr. Kaye, Ireland


Your article on the website is misleading when it says slavery still exists today but 'behind closed doors'. The last two decades have seen extensive slave raiding throughout the Sudan, largely sponsored by the Islamicist Khartoum government in the course of its war against the (largely) Christian and Animist south. Tens of thousands of Africans have been enslaved over the years and there is nothing "closed door" about it. This has been extensively reported over the years, not least in January 2001 when Baroness Cox, deputy Speaker of the British House of Lords, went to the Sudan and "redeemed"(bought back from the traders) several hundred.
Alistair Fletcher, Britain

My question is, were there any black people in the Americas before Columbus? If there were, why is that aspect not focused on? How come there are blacks in Asia and Australia? Were they also transported to these places from Africa as slaves? My oral tradition tells me that people have been sent across the Atlantic by kings long before Columbus set his feet on America.
Solo Kamara, Gambian living in Sweden

African-Americans continue to demand reparations for the period in US history where their forebears were slaves. America does not have enough time or money to compensate for the horrors of slavery. When I ask "What was life like for the Africans who were not purchased and brought over here?", I am rebuked and called a racist. Why shouldn't Africans who turned weaker tribes into a commodity bear some responsibility?
Ron Korzeniewski, USA,

I was glancing through your site and saw your estimate of slaves forcibly taken from Africa. Your article states around 15 million. This estimate seems distressingly low. Does this figure include the millions of slaves taken from Africa and killed en route to the Americas and the Caribbean, by ship captains and by disease? Or the number who were killed after reaching their destinations, for disobedience and as examples to others, over a period of around 400 years? The 15 million figure seems to be little considering the huge impact slavery has had on the contrasting economic fortunes of the West and of Africa. I thought that the estimate should be more in the region of 60 million and I'm pretty sure, with adequate research I could back that figure up.
Chris de Lacy, UK

Thank you for bringing awareness and putting a human face on Africa and the Slave Trade. As a woman of Afro-Caribbean descent, we are still suffering from the left-overs of slavery, but because we are a resilient people, we will survive.
Caroline A. Browne, US Virgin Islands

May I suggest a small revision in the use of the term "slave". In referring to Africans who were forcibly taken from the Continent. May I suggest using "enslaved Africans". I suspect that they were not born slaves.
Patrick Hunter, Canada

The history we as Africans always read is written by Westerners or simply the West. It is quite obvious that they have not digested the real story about our history. They only write those articles which will always be in their favour. As an African and from a royal family my forefathers were engaged in the abolition of slavery and I know that Africans never intended to sell their people into slavery. The idea was born by European traders coming from Europe with the intention to engage in trans-Atlantic trade.
Benjamin Okpeji, Nigerian living in USA.


As for eventual financial reparations following the past slave trade, I think it is really nonsense: why should we pay for something we haven't done? We have to think about the present and the future, not about the past, because a country which is stuck in its past can't make its way through the challenges of today's world. Think about fighting AIDS and ethnic conflicts instead.
Aurélie, France