Fortunes of Africa

Fortunes of Africa

“Whatever kind of trade with Africa was involved, European governments sought to benefit by granting national monopolies to commercial companies venturing there. In 1618, England’s James I gave a charter of monopoly to thirty London merchants who had formed the Company of Adventurers of London Trading into Parts of Africa, namely ‘Gynny and Nynny’ (Guinea and Benin) with the purpose of ‘discovering the golden trade of the Moors of Barbary’. The Dutch monopoly on trade between Africa and the Caribbean was run by the Dutch West India Company which, by the 1640s, was transporting about 3,000 slaves a year to the Americas.” 

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

“The French government gave a slaving monopoly to the French West Indian Company until the demand for slaves became so strong that it opened the slave trade to any Frenchman who wanted to engage in it. ‘There is nothing that does more to help the growth of those colonies [in the Caribbean]… than the labor of Negroes,’ declared a royal proclamation. In 1660, the Royal Adventurers into Africa, a London Company whose investors included King Charles II and three other members of the royal family, was given a monopoly of England’s African trade for 1,000 years. Some of the gold it brought back from the Gold Coast was turned by the Royal Mint into coins with an elephant on one side; they were popularly called ‘guineas’, a unit of currency equivalent to twenty-one shillings which remained valid until 1967. In 1665, the company estimated that half of its returns came from gold, a quarter from slaves, and a quarter from ivory, pepper, wood wax and hides. When the Royal Adventurers encountered financial difficulties, its place was taken in 1672 by the Royal African Company of England which was given a license to trade in ‘gold, silver, Negroes, Slaves, goods, ware and manufacturers’ for 1,000 years and a monopoly of all African trade until 1688. Its main base in Africa became the Gold Coast and its headquarters there at Cape Coast included a garrison of fifty English soldiers, thirty slaves and a resident commander responsible for all English actions in West Africa.”

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

“By the end of the seventeenth century, as much as three-fifths of the income of the Royal African Company derived from the sale of slaves. As well as chartered companies, increasing numbers of privateers-‘interlopers’-competed for a share of the business. The triangular trade between Europe, the west coast of Africa and the Americas brought a triple round of profits to European merchants. On the outward journey to Africa, they brought linen, cloth, metalwares, beads, brandy, wine, and firearms; they picked up slaves which they sold in the Caribbean or Brazil, taking back to Europe cargoes of sugar, tobacco and rum.”

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

“To assist his campaign of conquest, Faidherbe recruited an army of Senegalese and tirailleurs-‘skirmishers’-trained and led by French and local Afro-French officers. From Saint Louis, he pushed forward in all directions. North of the river he fought a three-year-long war against Trarza Moors for control of their inland trade routes.”

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

“Among his other observations, Alvares noted that although Lebna Dengel could muster a sizeable army, it was poorly equipped, with little more than spears, bows, and arrows. When the king finally agreed to let the Portuguese go, six years after their arrival, he furnished them with a letter requesting military and technical assistance, proposing an alliance that would ‘ tear out and cast forth the evil Moors, Jews, and heathens from [our] countries.”

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

“On their voyages exploring the Senegal River in the 1440s, the Portuguese established regular trading links with two Wolof kingdoms, Walo and Cayor, long accustomed to dealing in slaves and other commodities with Arab and Sanhaja merchants, exchanging them for Barbary horses which had survived the journey across the Sahara. ‘The King,’ wrote the Venetian adventurer, Alvise Ca’ da Mosto, ‘supports himself by raids, which result in many slaves from his own as well as neighboring countries. He employs these slaves…in cultivating the land…but he also sells many to the [Moors] in return for horses and other goods.” Horses were highly prized. According to da Mosto, the Wolofs would offer from nine to fourteenth slaves for a single horse.”

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

“Those who knew the truth,’ declared the contemporary Kilwa Chronicle, ‘confirmed that they were corrupt and dishonest persons who had come only to spy out the land in order to seize it.’ On their arrivals in Mombassa, they were treated as unwelcome visitors. Da Gama had his own suspicions, as Velho recorded: At night the captain-major questioned two Moors we had on board by dropping boiling oil upon their skin so that they might confess any treachery. They said that orders had been given to avenge what we had done in Mozambique.”

Source Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour By Martin Meredith

El Aemer El Mujaddid

American born Moor, Author, History Researcher, Modernist, 720 Entrepreneur/ Corporate Mogul in the making; who observes & analyzes human nature for data mining purposes. Knowing is Half the Battle, Wisdom is needed for appropriate application of knowledge and right reasoning.

Leave a Reply