". . . why did Africans (or rather African rulers, merchants and other decision makers) sell slaves to Europeans when it was so obviously immoral and harmful, is in fact a central problem and one that ought to be addressed seriously. It needs to be taken at least as seriously as why Europeans did the buying and transporting of slaves."

John Thornton


What hurts me most is that some of your people have maliciously represented us in books that never die, alleging that we sell our wives and children for the sake of a few kegs of brandy. No. We are shamefully belied. Tell posterity that we have been abused. We do indeed sell to the white men a part of our prisoners and we have a right so to do. Are not all prisoners at the disposal of their captors? And are we to blame if we send delinquents to a far country? I have been told you do the same.

King of Dahomey to Governor Abson, quoted in A. Dalzel, the History of Dahomey, London 1793, p.219

Kwesi J. Anquandah 

Castles and Forts of Ghana,104


What was the nature of the apparently "consumerist" middleman coastal African society?  From well-documented European  sources, there were three major classes of people among the coastal Akan: upper class, commoners and slaves.

The Upper Class was comprised of: nobility (afahene, awuranom), politico-military stalwarts (ahenfo, abrafo), mercantile group (abirempon, batafo), priests-ideologists (asafo, abosomfo, asumanfo.)

This group engrossed public, political and socioeconomic power. It was of "noble" status. It alone could buy, own and sell slaves, retainers and bonded commoners.  An Afahene had slaves, servants and retainers engaged in some twenty different services and functions at his beck and call.  As Jean Barbot noted in the 17th century "slaves are one part of the Afahene's riches and property, a commodity in this country."

Kwesi  J. Anquandah

Castles and Forts of Ghana,103