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Africa's View On Their People Essay

1151 words - 5 pages

In the 21st century, slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade are viewed as immoral and quite possibly the most horrifying treatment known to man by society and foreign leaders but, was the same view regarded in the 17th century? The short primary sources, “Nzinga Mbemba: Appeal to the King of Portugal”, and “Captain Thomas Phillips: Buying Slaves in 1639”, enables individuals to identify how foreign leaders, specifically the kings of African nations, conducted the issue of slavery and the slave trade. In the words of Nzinga Mbemba and Captain Phillips, the kings of Congo and Ouidah both knowingly accepted slavery in their country but, had strikingly opposing views concerning the Atlantic Slave Trade; King Mbemba prohibited the trading of slaves whereas the King of Ouidah welcomed slave trading.
During the 17th century, slavery was a widely used commodity with the Europeans, little do people know however that African kings also had and accepted slavery in their own nations. King Nzinga Mbemba of Congo and the King of Ouidah had similarities on the issue of slavery; they tolerated the use of slaves. Congo’s king had no contingency with slavery; in fact, he had slaves in his country. When the Portuguese were purchasing goods in Congo, the king had men “investigate if the mentioned goods are captives or free men” (NZ, 622). The fact that the king differentiates the men between ‘free’ and ‘captives’ illustrates that not all people in Congo are free. Whether these captives are from the country of Congo or not, they are still caught and held all across the nation against their will. King Mbemba kept slaves because the population of Congo was vastly declining due to the slave trade. In his letter, he pleads with the king of Portugal, “…our country is being completely depopulated, and Your Highness should not agree with this nor accept it as in your service” (NZ, 621). Seeing as his country was losing its citizens, the king did not want to risk losing anymore individuals, slaves included. Slaves made possible the quick ability to expand a family with their owners and increase the population. The king of Congo had no objections to slavery in his country, and neither did the king of Ouidah. In Captain Phillips’s journey he came across the king of Ouidah, and there, it is known that the ruler did not dispute against the use of slaves. When Captain Phillips was in the process of purchasing slaves, he observed that, “the king’s slaves, if he had any, were the first offer’d to sale” (CTP, 625). First, it is clear that there are slaves in the country because of the fact that Captain Phillips was in the nation to buy slaves. Second, the king must not object to the idea of slaves because he may have had them himself. And finally, if the king was not in possession of any slaves, then his people must be if Ouidah’s king had offered to give slaves away. Both of the kings from Congo and Ouidah were similar in the fact that they permitted slavery and...

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