RESISTANCE: AFRICAN RESISTANCE TO SLAVERY
Chattel slavery, as it existed, was the worst kind of human bondage. Africans fought against and resisted slavery in their (1470 - 1800) homeland, on the seas, and in America. There was continuous resistance against Europeans during every phase of the slave trade. Because the rebellions of the African slaves increased, the slave traders created laws designed to reduce African resistance.
Much of the information about the resistance to slavery came from written documents kept by the European sailors. There is enough information, includling historical facts, examples of resistance, and dislike of the European slave trade, to establish that the enslavement of Africans was not accepted by African people.
African leaders and those opposing the European slave trade, organized and assigned large groups to keep watch for slave ships traveling to the East and whose crews were well-known for kidnapping Africans on the coast. For example, King Ansah of Ghana (1470-1486) had the Fante people watch for European ships, and prevented them from coming ashore. Many other African leaders did not permit Europeans in their kingdoms. In Benin, the people had heard of the intentions of the Europeans, so they killed them as soon as they came ashore. There were some kings who agreed to trade with the Europeans, but attempted to stop it once they saw the problems that were created in their lands. Through the tactics of several African leaders and kings, they were able to minimize the European slave trade but they could not stop it completely. The treachery and greed of the Europeans, hurt the African economy and, therefore, damaged trade relations. African King Nzenga Maremba tried to stop the slave trade in the Congo only after he originally participated in the trade in exchange for military items and support from Portugal. King Maremba agreed to release his African prisoners of war to the Portuguese who wanted the best (1470 - 1800) young African men as a bargaining chip to be sure the King kept his word. The Portuguese promised to train and educate the young men to become priests and later to return them to the Congo. King Meremba let the Portuguese convince him to take the Christian name, Alfonso, as a show of support. When Alfonso asked for the return of a few of his former prisoners, who had been trained to serve as physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, assistants for shipbuilders and carpenters, his requests were denied. After having his requests denied several times, King Alfonso learned that his prisoners of war had been sold as slaves in Portugal. In 1526, King Alfonso wrote to King John III, the former King of Portugal, and asked for his help in ending the slave trade in the Congo. He explained the freedoms that were given to the Portuguese, who had set up shops, become merchants in the Congo and had amassed fortunes. The people in the Congo could not do the same because they had complied with the agreement and now did not have the same abundance of wealth as the invaders. King Alfonso related that the damage was so great that his people and land were being seized daily. King Alfonso ended his letter to King John III with another request for his help because it was the will of the people in the Congo and other kingdoms that there should not be any trading of slaves nor markets for slaves.
Other countries that were resisting the slave trade throughout the continent of Africa were Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Ni geria, and Angola. In 1777, King Agadja, a Dahomean monarch, captured an Englishman and his slave raiding party who had entered his kingdom looking for more Africans. The Englishman and his crew were released after they promised to return all the Africans they had captured. King Agadja gave the Englishmen a warning to take to the rulers of England, that if any other slave traders were sent to his Kingdom, or other kingdoms, they would be killed. In 1787, the Senegal King of Almammy, passed a law that made it illegal to take enslaved Africans through his kingdom. To let (1470 – 1800) Europeans know how serious the law was, the king returned the presents French slave traders sent as bribes. Queen Nzingha of Angola fought a successful 30-year war against the slave traders of Portugal until the Portuguese negotiated a treaty with her in 1656. Their treaty remained in effect until she died in 1663.