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Race and History Forum

African Servitude vs European Chattel Slavery

The argument that slavery already existed in Africa and was thus not completely alien or debilitating to African people and the future development of African societies, was one that was used by many European slave traders and anti-abolitionists to justify chattel slavery in the Americas. However, an informed examination of the true nature of servitude in traditional African societies reveals a complex picture of a more humane form of bondage in which 'slaves' were granted certain rights and freedoms, were protected by the heads of thier households and indeed could rise to positions of prominence in the household and the wider society. The most peculiar example of this would be the Mamluk dynasty in 'Islamic Egypt', a dynasty where a prerequisite for rule was slave status.

I would like to get ones opinions and further information on this. What indeed was the nature of indigenous African servitude/ slavery? What were the various ways that it differed from European chattel slavery? and in the case of Islamic and 'Arabized' North African involvement how did that change or affect the nature of this indigenous African system of servitude?

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