West African Slavery and Atlantic Commerce: The Senegal River Valley, 1700-1860 (African Studies)

West African Slavery and Atlantic Commerce: The Senegal River Valley, 1700-1860 (African Studies)

James F. Searing

Language: English

Pages: 268

ISBN: 0521534526

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The author shows how the societies of West Africa were transformed by the slave trade. The growth of the Atlantic trade stimulated the development of slavery within the region, with slaves working in the river and coasting trades or producing surplus grain to feed slaves in transit. A few held pivotal positions in the political structure of the coastal kingdoms of Senegambia. This local slave system had far-reaching consequences, leading to religious protest and slave rebellions. The changes in agricultural production fostered an ecological crisis.

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of dense mangrove at the river edge, with stands of forest further inland, filled with birds and wildlife. Dense mangrove growth began just north of Saint Louis, and the islands near Saint Louis (Sor, Biseche) were heavily wooded.30 A domesticated landscape of cleared fields and open pastureland existed side by side with undeveloped woodland and mangrove. The demands of Saint Louis and the Atlantic economy for fuel and wood for shipbuilding contributed to the transformation of the environment

eight-month trade boycott following Briie's arrest, followed by a shorter boycott under his successor." The logic of Latsukaabe's action was to secure the maximum benefit for the monarchy out of trade relations with the French. Failing to break the French monopoly, he nevertheless succeeded in forcing the French to pay higher duties to secure their right to trade. This limited success was achieved by utilizing Kajoor-Bawol's strategic position in the wider trade region claimed by the French. As

descriptions of the region evoke a forested landscape, full of wild animals and not completely domesticated by humans. In the 1750s Michel Adanson, a naturalist working for the Compagnie du Senegal, made careful observations of the landscape, vegetation, animal life, and climate of the Lower Senegal, based on excursions up the Senegal River from Saint Louis, or down the coast to Goree and trading ports further south. Adanson described herds of elephants in the region near Dagana in the lower

cotton cloths, because they are the ones who control almost all the trade of Senegal [Saint Louis]. They own female slaves who they send far away into the country to buy hides which they carry for more than 15 leagues on their heads or on donkeys. They buy them cheaply, and when they have gathered a considerable number they bring them to the fort in boats.21 La Courbe's description of the dominant role of women merchants, particularly in the trade in "country goods" such as food, cattle hides,

The dynamics of succession struggle and civil war appear most clearly in the career of Mawa Mbatio Sambe (1749-56), who became Dammel-Teen during the crisis of the 1750s. He was a son of Latsukaabe, from the matrilineage of the Dorobe. Ousted from the succession by Mayssa Tend, he spent much of his youth in exile, allying himself with states and families willing to help him in his pursuit of the throne of Kajoor. In dynastic 145 West African slavery and Atlantic commerce traditions his

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