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The Enslavement of Sub-Saharan Africans



Sub-Sahara Africa
Africa is a Continent made up of 55 Countries with many ethnic groups and cultures. The majority of people who live south of the Saharan Desert are Negroes. These are the people who were captured and sold into the Atlantic Slave Trade.



Coastal African tribes who had acquired guns from European traders were easily able to subdue Africans who lived in interior villages and did not have guns. The captives were brutalized and  traumatized.


Captured African people were stripped of their all their possessions, even their clothing. Women and children were often raped, molested or other wise traumatized. Then marched, often for hundreds of miles, to slave trading ports such as Elmina Castle.

These people were not savages. They just did not speak a common langauge with their captors or the Europeans who bought them. They had no way to tell who they really were or even where they had come from. Europeans simply accepted what they were told by the African captors and in many cases exaggerated upon negative aspects they had heard.

Elmina Castle 1625

Elmina Castle Web Page

Elmina Castle

Elmina was the first point of contact between the Europeans and the inhabitants of Lower Guinea. Many events took place at Elmina that literally shaped the history of the world.

In 1471 , a Portuguese expedition arrived, led by Don Diego d'Azambuja. Because of the vast amounts of gold and ivory they found here, they called the area "Mina de Ouro" -The gold mine. In no time at all, Elmina became the center of a thriving trade in gold, ivory and slaves, which were exchanged for cloth, beads, brass, bracelets and other goods brought there by the Portuguese.

In 1482, the Portuguese built St. George's Castle (Elmina Castle). This vast rectangular, 97,000 sq. ft. fortification is the earliest known European structure in the tropics. As the immensely profitable trade in gold and slaves at Elmina increased, it attracted the attention of other European nations, and a struggle for control of the Castle ensued.

In 1637, the Dutch captured Elmina Castle, and remained in control for the next 274 years. For the duration aor the Atlantic Slave Trade , the damp unlit dungeons of Elmina Castle continued to serve as a horrific holding prison for African captives, brought there to the coast to be sold and transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.

The Atlantic Slave Trade accelerated steadily after 1492, with the European settlement of the Americas needing agricultgural laborers (i.e. slaves) to develop and operate their plantation system in the New World! Elmina Castle, the oldest and largest slave trading post in Africa, still stands in the modern nation of Ghana.