History July 10, 2020 at 04:00 pm

Four facts about Portugal’s unique participation in the Transatlantic slave trade

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Associate Editor

Nii Ntreh July 10, 2020 at 04:00 pm

July 10, 2020 at 04:00 pm | History

The Portuguese were the first international participants in the Transatlantic slave trade. Portrait Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica

The numbers are not clear on how many people were taken from Africa to other parts of the world by European slave traders between the beginning of the 16th and the 19th centuries.

Some estimations put forward excess of 10 million Africans who were abducted from their homes for the once-profitable venture. It is also important to remember that not all of these enslaved Africans reached the so-called New World, with some dying from maltreatment and ailments on the sea while other slaves were known to have thrown themselves overboard.

The issue of who was responsible for one of the biggest obscenities in recorded human history seems quite settled: it’s the Europeans. But the idea that European slave traders sought and received cooperation from African peoples, although historical, has been a potent strawman for the avoidance of moral responsibility.

A well-meaning perspective on the Transatlantic slave trade (TAST) takes into cognizance what the English, French and others benefited from the commodification of African peoples.

It is actually interesting that although we also know that Portuguese were also slave traders, we seem to know very little about their participation in the TAST. Perhaps for many, this is due to the fact of over-indulging in America’s racial history to the detriment of similar instances in other places.

But the Portuguese were definitely the worst offenders in the TAST. As follows are some facts of their involvement:

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