The Rise of Coastal Empires
– Around 1700, Asante (or Ashanti) Empire of Akan peoples was unified under Osei Tutu on the “Gold Coast”. Asante dominated the coast with control of gold-producing zones and by supplying slaves in exchange for firearms (to 1820s).
– The Ashanti, who resisted British Imperialism in a Hundred Years War, sold their African captives of war and criminals to other Europeans, the Portuguese, Spanish, French, in order to buy guns to maintain their military resistance against British Imperialism
– In the 1720s Rise of Kingdom of Dahomey of Fon (or Aja) peoples, on the “Slave Coast” in the Bight of Benin rose in power from trading slaves for firearms.
– Some Africans resisted their captors by creating mutinies or jumping overboard from slave ships
– Many escaped in the West Indies during a “breaking in” process designed to pacify slaves for their arrival on plantations. These escapees would create independent “Maroon” communities in the West Indies a wage guerilla warfare against slave hunters. Some of the communities numbered in the 1000s.
Toussant L’Ouveture and Haiti
– Toussant L’Ouverture (1743-1803) led an uprising in Haiti (called Saint-Domingue by the French at the time) involving 1000s of slaves.
– His army grew to 55,000 people and waged both guerilla and frontal war against the British for years.
– Haiti became the first republic in the world to be led by a person of African descent: Jean-Jacque Dessaline.
– Note the similar roads to independence to the U.S. Both were formerly inhabited by indigeneous populations which were decimated by colonists. Both prospered economically through the labor of slaves shipped in from Africa, and both fought for independence around the turn of the 18th century.
– In July of 1839, the enslaved Africans on board the slave ship Amistad revolted against their captors and overtook their ship. In August their ship arrived on the shores of the United States. They went to court in the United States to sue for their freedom and won.
– In November of 1840, the freed Africans were returned to their home in Sierra Leone on the West coast of Africa.