The dark days of the past are long behind us now, but while it lasted, some barbaric activities were regularly carried out by the men of old in Nigeria. Some of these barbaric acts include killing of twins, human sacrifice and then there was slavery.
Slavery was a scourge that had been commercialised by the western world and introduced as a form of trade to our fathers. Prior to this, our fathers were used to making slaves out of prisoners of war. Then came the pathetic trade by batter, which involved our forefathers exchanging human beings for trivial items.
Our forefathers were made to see that they could become ‘proud’ owners of the trinkets and other trivial possessions being dangled before them by the Europeans and Arabs. So there it began, human beings tagged as ‘slaves’ were being sold (exchanged) for cheap and ridiculous foreign-made materials and goods. Soon slaves from war were not enough so they resorted to kidnapping other natives just to have the strange European things.
Here are 10 of such ridiculous things which our forefathers sold human beings for.
You might not believe this, but yes, it’s quite true. In those days, some of our fathers were more than willing to part with some of their servants in exchange for bags of Portuguese grown tobacco. The story of Madam Efunroye Tinubu of Egbaland who grew from being poor to being one of the wealthiest businesswomen in western Nigeria is one to take note of.
It was said that one of the major means by which she was paid for her slaves was tobacco. In no distant time, her tobacco business grew and she became the richest woman in Nigeria at the time.
We all know the power inherent in guns don’t we? So the deal is, our Fathers usually agreed to part with some of their servants in exchange for these guns. This became a great asset in those days. So you see some guys bringing guns to a knife fight. This gives them the extra edge in battles and all. The guns were in turn used to win more battles and hence more slaves being captured.
Funny enough, wealthy men would approach the Europeans themselves and offer them slaves for guns. Thank goodness they later learnt how to produce guns locally; some of our fathers would have been sold to Portugal or somewhere else in exchange for guns.
This one you must’ve heard. Its was no hidden thing in those days. Some of our forefathers were willing to sell their servants in exchange for bottles of foreign made wine and rum, one of which was Brandy. Well, they’ll argue that the servants being sold into slavery were prisoners of war, but come on! A human being for bottles of alcohol? That’s simply ridiculous.
Most of the first Europeans and Arabs who set foot on the country were slave traders. They noticed the poorly made clothes which our fathers wore and so used clothes as a bargaining chip in exchange for their servants. The foreign merchants set up trading post along the coast where human beings were constantly being traded as slaves in exchange for textiles and fabrics.
5. Crude tools
The Europeans had learnt that farming and other activities such as fishing, sculpting etc. were being done without the use of the basic tools required for efficient work, so they enticed the Chiefs with these crude tools in exchange for their servants.
The Chiefs would reluctantly agree to this. They then sold the tools acquired from the Europeans to their kinsmen and grew richer.
Getting the guns was one part, gunpowder needed to shoot with, was another. Before our fathers learnt how to produce gunpowder locally, gunpowder was a big bargaining commodity in the exchange for slaves.
In those days, copper was more like gold of today, it was so valued that it was sometimes used as a currency. Copper was highly priced because of the fact that it could be used in making other valuable materials such as bracelets, crowns bangles etc. So this was something the Europeans used in tempting our forefathers into selling their brothers into slavery.
Beads have always been a priced possession and still is today. Making beads which were highly attractive didn’t come easy. European women would produce the beads out of glass or some other materials while their men would travel thousands of miles into the country to exchange it for slaves, who in turn were shipped to Europe were they are re-sold and made to work in plantations.
Our forefathers then discovered they could melt brass items and make them into decorative items. Hence they would gladly accept anything made of brass in exchange for human beings or ’slaves’ as they were seen.
Another major commodity used in bargaining for slaves was sugar. At the time, sugar was a fascinating commodity, it left many wondering what it was made from. So to get more of this item, the Europeans and Arabs made our forefathers part with a few slaves. Imagine that! Human life for sugar.
Yeah, we had a role to play in our own slavery and eventual freedom. So you see, the ills we see in our society today started a long time ago and would continue until a generation that breaks the status-quo arises.