The Maafa--also known as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Middle Passage, and African Holocaust is a pan-African discourse on the global historical and contemporary genocide against the mental and physical health of African people. The effects of this genocide impact all areas of African life: religion, heritage, tradition, culture, agency, self-determination, marriage, identity, rites of passage, and ethics.


During the Transatlantic slave trade between 10 million and 12 million enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas from the 16th to the 19th century. 

Portuguese ships transported Africans for use as slaves on the sugar plantations in the Cape Verde and Madeira islands in the eastern Atlantic. Spanish conquistadors took African slaves to the Caribbean after 1502; however, Portuguese merchants continued to dominate the transatlantic slave trade for another century and a half. The Dutch became the foremost slave traders during parts of the 1600s, and in the following century English and French merchants controlled about half of the transatlantic slave trade, taking a large percentage of their human cargo from the region of West Africa between the Sénégal and Niger rivers.

Probably no more than a few hundred thousand Africans were taken to the Americas before 1600. In the 17th century, however, demand for slave labor rose sharply with the growth of sugar plantations in the Caribbean and tobacco plantations in the Chesapeake region in North America. The largest numbers of slaves were taken to the Americas during the 18th century, when, according to historians’ estimates, nearly three-fifths of the total volume of the transatlantic slave trade took place.

The slave trade had devastating effects in Africa. Economic incentives for warlords and tribes to engage in the slave trade promoted an atmosphere of lawlessness and violence. Depopulation and a continuing fear of captivity made economic and agricultural development almost impossible throughout much of western Africa. A large percentage of the people taken captive were women in their childbearing years and young men who normally would have been starting families. The European slavers usually left behind persons who were elderly, disabled, or otherwise dependent—groups who were least able to contribute to the economic health of their societies.

Information Source: CONTRIBUTOR: Thomas Lewis


Transatlantic slave trade


Encyclopædia Britannica


April 06, 2020



October 16, 2020