Thursday, May 10, 2012

African trade

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The Atlantic World is made up of four (4) countries being brought together in a system. These countries are North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean Countries. These countries had something in common, THE ATLANTIC OCEAN being central. Hence was the creation of the Atlantic World System, linkages taking place over the Atlantic, the Linking of the Old World, and the New World System.


1. Crops/foods

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. Colonists

. Animals

4. Disease

5. Plants (“weeds”)

6. Slaves


1. Long Distance Trade Economic Force responsible for evolution. Commodities coming from far off places, exotic lands, example African slave trade, gold, silver, silks and spices.

. Religion Islam and Christianity, both struggling for the hearts and minds of men and women, seeking to make profit. These forces drive a lot of developments in the Atlantic World. Muslims were dominant in almost all of the major accessible trading routes

. Technology Critical to the development of the Atlantic World is the conquering of the Atlantic Ocean and Trading Routes. Central to development is technology. The know how to conquer the seas, shipbuilding, navigational instruments, military technology (important to be dominant).

4. Exploration and Migration The movement of people first as explorers. Large numbers of people from the Old World to the New. In addition to Europeans looking for fame and fortune, which came from the Atlantic World, were forced people, slaves, who by 1600 were the majority of those traveling. Crops found their way into the Americas, animals, example the Portuguese and Spanish brought their hogs. Animals brought over transformed the colony, became systematic…a new world System, THE ATLANTIC SYSTEM.


The Trans-Sahara Trade Trade taking place between North Africa and SouthAfrica. Commodities brought from the Forest region, the Sahara, the Savannah, and Coastal areas.

Most of the African Trade was internal. This trade was long overland travel by camel caravans across the Sahara. The Sahara is a desert, very hot, very dry. It was a great challenge to engage in trade across the Sahara.

As early as the 5th century “camel caravans” trade started and intensified by the 100s and 1400s.

Commodities of Trade across the Sahara were

- Gold

- Salt

- Slaves

- Kola Nuts

- Ivory

- Malaguetta Pepper

Many historians consider these goods valuable and non-perishable. Gold was high value and low bulk. The trips across the Sahara would take up to 70-0 days ( months). Taxes had to be paid, as well as securities. The middlemen were the Muslims. Muslims dominated trade. Gold was the most important commodity. Gold traded across the Sahara as early as the 4th century to India and the Far East.

Major sources of Gold in the Forest Region was

- Bambuk

- Goldfield

- Bure

- Akan Goldfield, all areas prone to attacks.

The Camel Caravans never went so far South. Muslim traders did not see where the gold came from. Ecological difference determined how trade was controlled.



11th century 14th century 15th century

These large West African states owed their wealth to the fact that they were able to control the areas where gold was traded, and salt. By the 1th century Ghana had collapsed, and Mali took over. All trade went through Timbuktu, the heart of Mali, a large city of learning and wealth. The ruler of Mali in the 14th century was Mansa Musu 11-17, c 14 � a Muslim who firmly established a trade between Mali and the Muslims of North Africa and Egypt. Mali became famous abroad when in 14 in his pilgrimage to Mecca he took 16, 000 people and 80 camels.

By the late 14th century Songhai took over the wealth by trade in gold. Gold was a standard currency for Europeans except in the Dark Ages when no gold was used. By 15 gold had re-emerged a European’s main currency and Italian merchants of Genoa Florence and Venice � gold importers from West African Ports. Gold entered Europe via West Africa via Muslim Traders trading from North African Ports.

By 150 it is estimate that / of the gold within the international economy originated in West Africa. Even after the Atlantic coast opened and commercial links established, gold continued to be the main exporter. It was not until the late 1700’s that slaves overtook gold.

Gold however was not the only valuable commodity. Salt brought from the south came down form the oasis to such places as Tashaza Salt mine and Titchitt, were the suppliers of salt. Salt was a very valuable commodity that was scarce and expensive in the Savannah Forest regions. Rock Salt was cut in tokens and used as currency. So valuable was salt, that it was traded for gold. Kola nut was also traded. It was an adjunct to the gold trade. They were a stimulant and helped to suppress the appetite. They contain caffeine. Kola nuts came from the Forest region where gold was.


Trans-Saharan slave trade was taking place in both directions. To enhance prestige the rulers had to have slaves and also the Muslim traders bough black slaves from West Africa. Muslims purchased slaves as concubines. Male slaves were eunuchs and soldiers. Women were also kept as domestics. The Trans-Saharan became important. By the time the Trans-Atlantic trade developed, it was competition for the trans-Saharan. The majority of women slaves were traded inland. Majority of men went outland.

Going in both directions across the Sahara was

- Ivory African Ivory was prized compared to ivory from India;

- Pepper From the coast;

- Spices Also imported commodity of trade. Europeans sampled African Pepper.

- Weapons, metal goods from Europe via Muslim traders. West Africa produce metal, but not an adequate supply for demand of weapons needed. Guns were important bought from Muslim traders.


The trans-Saharan trade was important because

1. The influence of Islam;

. State-building- trade served to etch states because of taxation, built states/consolidation of states;

. International Trade- The gold it supplied linked it to European and International Economy;

4. Stimulated European Interest These economies stimulated European Interest. Atlantic World, African Gold. European needed access to it.

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