In the late 1400s, the Portuguese explored along the African coast in search for trading routes. Eventually they established control over the Indian Ocean, bringing Roman Catholicism to Ethiopia. The Portuguese, wanting gold, set up trading posts along the African coasts. The main West African trading centers of Timbuktu, Kano, Gao, and Wangara were impressive markets. After a while, however, the Europeans built new trade relationships mostly based on the slave trade. Gabon was one of the main centers of slave trade. By this time, African chiefs and kings had been enslaving and trading prisoners of war for centuries. However, this slave trade skyrocketed when the Europeans began shipping Africans to the Americas to work on plantations. Huge numbers of Africans were sold into slavery. After they were sold, they would have to endure a horrible trip across the Atlantic Ocean as human cargo. The amount of young lives claimed on this journey was a major setback to the societies they left behind.
Central Africa was finally colonized in the 1800s. Malaria and other obstacles had set-back rapid colonization, but the European powers held colonies in the region by the 1800s. Unfortunately, European rulers, businessmen, and missionaries promoted European culture, which weakened traditional African culture. The Europeans were also known to treat the Africans harshly. The African’s village life was ruined because the Europeans replaced locally centered agriculture with huge plantations and cash crops. In the mid-1900s, resistance to European colonial rule in Africa because much more frequent. They finally won independence under French rule after World War II, but experienced great instability in the following years. If the Africans had not lost so many people to slave trade, their resistance to European colonization in the 1800s probably would have been much stronger and more effective.
“Exploring Africa.” Exploring Africa. Matrix, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013. <http://exploringafrica.matrix.msu.edu/students/curriculum/m7b/activity1.php>.
HBC. West African Slave Ship. N.d. Ending The Atlantic African Slave Trade, West Africa. Historical Boys’ Clothing. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.
G. Boehm, Richard . World Geography and Cultures . Columbus, OH : Glencoe , 2012. Print.