Africa's View on Their People

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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 Portug... ... middle of paper ... ...nd contrasting points of African kings. While they both approved the use of slaves, Mbemba despised the slave trade and coaxed Portugal’s royalty into ending the entire business for the benefit of his nation. The king of Ouidah however seemed adamant about getting rid of his slaves in the trade without regard to how the slaves were being treated or how it affected his country. The mixed opinions on the slave trade and the identical thoughts of slavery during the 17th century allows one to see the varying notions the two issues had on the kings in Africa. Works Cited Reilly, "Nzinga Mbemba: Appeal to the King of Portugal." Worlds of History, Volume Two: Since 1400: A Comparative Reader, July, 2010, [620-623]. Reilly, "Captain Thomas Phillips: Buying Slaves in 1693." Worlds of History, Volume Two: Since 1400: A Comparative Reader, July, 2010, [623-629].

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