Western Africa


The Unity’s voyage from Zeeland to Western Africa lasted well over two months. First The Unity sailed to the Windward or Upper Coast, then to the Ivory Coast and finally to the Gold Coast. The captain and first mate traded as much cargo for slaves, water and rice as possible. Per trade location the demand for goods and the supply enslaved Africans varied. Men were more expensive than women and boys were more expensive than girls. Gold and ivory were bought in addition to slaves.


Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) 1720-1889 – NL-MdbZA_20_389.1_0113

Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) 1720-1889 – NL-MdbZA_20_383_0004

Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) 1720-1889 – NL-MdbZA_20_383_0002

Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) 1720-1889 – NL-MdbZA_20_389.3_0003

Slave trade
Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) 1720-1889 – NL-MdbZA_20_389.2_0015

Guinea coast
Map of the Guinea coast, ZA Beeld&Geluid inv.nr 592

Slave trade

Elmina Fortress
Atlas Blaeu van der Hem

the wall of Elmina Fortress, Burkinafaso travel, picture: M.Velthuis

portal at Elmina Fortress, Burkinafaso travel, picture: M.Velthuis


Introduction Lesson 3.2 Western Africa Lesson 3.2 Western Africa – Math Lesson 3.2 Western Africa – Language Lesson 3.2 Western Africa – WO


Discussion about then and now

(you can find instructions about conducting a discussion in the teacher’s manual)

Topics that may provide an opening for a discussion about slavery

In all parts of the world there was slavery: in America, Asia, Europe and in Africa. It was deemed normal. Soldiers who lost a war were killed or enslaved. This also often happened to their women and children. A person could also be forced into slavery when a debt could not be paid. Poor parents sold one or more of their children into slavery. Criminals were sometimes also sentenced into slavery.
In colonial times and during the time of trans-Atlantic slave trade, Europeans bought slaves from African traders. Cargo ships shipped the enslaved Africans to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Africans who survived the passage were sold with a profit to the owners of the plantations in the America’s. There they were forced to work as slaves on the plantages.

  1. What do you think about one human being as the owner of another human being?
  2. In the past people though of many reasons to justify slavery: a different skin color, a different language, culture, religion, or no education. In fact they thought other humans were less civilized and not fully human, but that they were something between human and animal. Which is why the Europeans and American often treated the African slaves as animals. What do you think of this? Is this way of thinking about other humans still present today?
  3. In the past, if you were born into slavery, specifically if both your parents were enslaved, the law determined that you too were a slave and property of the slave owner. What do you think of such a law?

Slavery is illegal nowadays. Slavery is considered a crime against humanity. This does not imply there is no more slavery. Millions or child slaves are used for slave labor in factories, in underground mines, on the land, in prostitution, in drug trafficking and are used as child soldiers. In 1989 the United Nations drafted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this attention was paid to modern forms of slavery, such as child slavery. An international organization dedicated to the protection of children’s rights is Unicef.

  1. Have you ever thought about slavery? What do you think of the fact that slavery still exists today?
  2. Can you compare colonial slavery, during the time of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to slavery now? Why can you / can’t you?
  3. What do you think of organizations that try to place attention on the existence of modern slavery, such as Anti-Slavery International, which was founded in 1839, and is the world’s oldest international human rights organization and works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. Anti-Slavery International also has a Facebook page. Would you like a page such as theirs and actively join such an initiative?
  4. Do you have any ideas on what you can do to stand up against child slavery? And what could you do with your group/class or the whole school?

More information and questions about the discussion topic Slavery

Discussion Lesson 3.2 Western Africa – Slavery

More information
Dutch Canon of National History – Slavery.
Worksheet extra assignments

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