17 Jul 2006 • 1,497 views
Slave Trade Series: Fort Elmina
Elmina Castle, constructed to protect Portuguese trade from European competitors and hostile Africans. The Portuguese were the first to Ghana in 1471. Under the patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator, they had reached the area that was to become known as the Gold Coast because Europeans knew the area as the source of gold that reached Muslim North Africa by way of trade routes across the Sahara. The initial Portuguese interest in trading for gold, ivory, and pepper so increased that in 1482 the Portuguese built their first permanent trading post on the western coast of present-day Ghana.
With the opening of European plantations in the New World during the 1500s, which suddenly expanded the demand for slaves in the Americas, trade in slaves soon overshadowed gold as the principal export of the area. Indeed, the west coast of Africa became the principal source of slaves for the New World. The seemingly insatiable market and the substantial profits to be gained from the slave trade attracted adventurers from all over Europe.
Slaving forts, such as James Fort, Sierre Leone and Cape Coast were a vital feature of the slave trade, and served as a central clearinghouse where slavers could exchange material trade goods for human chattel. Thirty-six of the forty-two known slaving fortresses were located in Ghana.
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