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The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

The so called ‘Slave Trade” started in the fifteenth century with the appearance of Portuguese traders along the West African coastline. This led to the development by the sixteenth century of a trade of a different kind, over time the Portuguese were joined by traders from other European countries, and a trade in goods, including textiles, were exchanged for African people to take as cargo on a long sea crossing to be sold and made to work in the miserable and harsh conditions on plantations in the New World.

Professor Sati Fwatshak, from the University of Jos in Nigeria, has been a great support, but is disappointed that he has not been able to find any unpublished materials to support our research through the Brethyn Online Research Network, however he has generously agreed to continue to support us and continue to explore the cloth links.

There are so many online resources that tell the history of a terrible time in human history. Wikipedia is a good place to slart.

The Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade provides some clear maps that explain details of the transportation / trafficking of at least 10 million Africans across the Atlantic to the New World – click HERE


Source: David Eltis and David Richardson, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven, 2010), thank you for the permissions given to include this link.

On 10 December 2014, the U.N. General Assembly launched the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) in New York.


·       Address by Sir Hilary Beckles, Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

·       Official website












The slave trade represents a dramatic encounter of history and geography. This four century long tragedy has been one of the greatest dehumanizing enterprises in human history. It constitutes one of the first forms of globalization.


The resultant slavery system, an economic and commercial type of venture organization, linked different regions and continents: Africa, the Arab World, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the Americas. It was based on an ideology: a conceptual structure founded on contempt for the black man and set up in order to justify the sale of human beings (black Africans in this case) as a mobile asset: For this is how they were regarded in the “black codes”, which constituted the legal framework of slavery in the Americas.


The history of this dissimulated tragedy, its deeper causes, its modalities and consequences have yet to be better elucidated: This is the basic objective that the UNESCO’s member states set for the “Slave Route” Project. The issues at stake are: historical truth, human rights, development, identity and citizenship in the modern multicultural societies.


The idea of “route” signifies, first and foremost, the identification of “itineraries of humanity”, i.e. circuits followed by the slave trade. In this sense, geography sheds light on history. In fact, the slave trade map not only lends substance to this early form of international trade, but also, by showing the courses it took, illuminates the impact of the system.


These slave trade maps are only a “first draft”. Based on currently available historical data gathered by Joseph Harris (USA) about the slave trade and slavery, they should be completed to the extent that the theme networks of researchers, set up by UNESCO, continue to bring to light the deeper layers of the iceberg by exploiting archives and oral traditions. It will then be possible to understand that the black slave trade forms the invisible stuff of relations between Africa, the Arab World, Europe,



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