Effects of Slave Trade on EAST Africa

Slave Trade had a deep impact on the social and economic setup of East Africa.

  • It led to depopulation. The involvement of East African societies in the slave trade led to a decrease in the number of people in the region. This was because a large number of slaves were exported outside East Africa. Other people lost their lives in the process of resisting being taken as slaves
  • It led to the creation of fear and insecurity in the east African societies. However, after the introduction of the slave trade in East Africa, there was a state of insecurity within the region. This was because strong states could invade weak states and capture slaves. For example, Buganda could invade Bunyoro. This process involved wars and mass migration because people feared being captured. All these interrupted pre-colonial African social setup
  • Slave Trade intensified social classes in East Africa. This means that there were social classes in the societies. However, the situation became worse after the introduction of the slave trade in the region.This was because chiefs could engage in trade and exploit wealth from it for example chief Mirambo of Nyamwezi. This created inequality between those who participated (chiefs) against their subjects which ranked chiefs to be in higher class leaving others to be lower class.
  • It led to the spread of polygamy; after the introduction of slave trade in East Africa, polygamous practices became common. This was because slave trade washed out men. As a result, there was a scarcity of men in number as they outcompeted men in terms of ratio. Therefore, they had no other option rather than more than one wife to share one man hence violating or interrupting the sociocultural pre-colonial societies of east Africa
  • Economically, it led to the following interruptions; Destruction of local trade; before colonial times, African societies were strongly organized economically. They could participate in production and trade. For example, in southwestern Tanganyika, Fipa smiths exchanged their product for cloth woven in Rukwa, and also pot, cloth, iron, and salt were the staple of regional trade. However, with the coming of the slave trade, all these were interrupted thus leading to the underdevelopment of the
    region
  • It led to the decline of agricultural production; this was because African man powers were taken to Arabic farms, especially in Zanzibar and other parts of the Middle East. The remaining population was the aged people and children who could not produce enough hence a decline in agricultural production.
  • It led to the decline of local industries; in pre-colonial societies, there were local skilled people like iron smelters, skilled crafts and pottery makers. For example, Kiss women of Nyasa Lake bartered their pots from house to house in Nyakusa village. They also made clothes from bark in Buhahaya, Unyakyusa and Buganda.

Although the slave trade interrupted social and economic development in pre-colonial east African societies, to some extent it led to the development of towns and cities, for example, Zanzibar, Ujiji, and Tabora, rise of

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