Profiles: Slave Trade


Slavery has existed in various forms throughout most of recorded history, and Africa has not been an exception. From ancient Egypt to the European invasions to even as late as the 20th century, Africa has had a particularly long and harrowing history of slavery. Although the transatlantic slave trade is prominent in the history books, slavery existed and sometimes flourished in Africa long before. In fact, slavery was practiced all over Africa: in many areas there were large-scale slave societies, while in others there were slave-owning societies

In ancient Egypt and Nubia slavery existed but it was not a dominant fixture. Slavery in Egypt took many forms; from household and pastoral (for farming), to military. Household slaves would often be integrated to varying degrees with the families of their owners, so that boys would be raised to the status of adopted sons and women as concubines or wives who gave birth to heirs. Egyptian slaves were also known to have been executed to accompany their deceased owners into the afterlife. There was later an increase in slavery with the enslavement of the Hebrews in pharaoh Egypt.


A group of slaves in Egypt. Courtesy of the Virtual Egyptian Museum. Copyright free.

 Africa in History
 Human Evolution

 North Africa  

 Kingdoms of the South
 Trading Empires
 West Africa

Slave Trade