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Where the Negroes are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 7. Januar 2014


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If you want to know how the slave trade worked on Africa's west coast, there is no better starting point than Randy Sparks's brilliant urban biography of the Gold Coast port of Annamaboe. It elevates our understanding of the Atlantic in the age of the transatlantic slave trade to new heights.--Ira Berlin, author of "Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America"

Randy Sparks takes what might appear to be a minor port on the Gold Coast and gives us a history of the whole Atlantic Basin, through the history of one carefully defined branch of the slave trade. He shows us how multiple actors from different cultures speaking a number of different languages managed to cooperate, argue, compete, and finally succeed in knitting a transatlantic community together. This is a masterpiece of turning micro-history, with its fine detail, into mega-history of the first magnitude.
--John Thornton, author of "A Cultural History of the Atlantic World, 1250-1820"

This well-written and altogether gripping story is Atlantic history at its best. Randy Sparks demonstrates the complexity of enslavement itself, examining the multiple processes by which persons came to be construed as property, both on the coast of Africa and in the Atlantic trade.
--Rebecca J. Scott, co-author of "Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation"

Randy Sparks's well-illustrated study of this Gold Coast port expands and deepens our understanding of African middlemen's importance in the Atlantic economy before 1800 and of the operations of the transatlantic slave trade.
--David Northrup, author of "Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850"

Africans entered the trans-Atlantic slave trade as more than cargo; many operated as wily merchants integral to the far-reaching Atlantic commerce that began with European contact and the search for gold in the 1430s and shifted to traffic in humans Unveiling African merchant elites functioning as cultural brokers, literate in English and traveled in Europe and the Americas, and operating as major forces responding to 18th-century market opportunities, Sparks expands our understanding of the Atlantic connections of West Africa s coastal trading communities.--Thomas J. Davis"Library Journal (starred review)" (12/15/2013)"

Where the Negroes Are Masters" is a pathfinding work that surely will have great influence on our understanding of the largest forced migration in history. Sparks is a diligent researcher who shows the many ways in which the Fante leadership entrenched its position in the trade An interesting and important book.--Jonathan Yardley"Washington Post" (01/31/2014)"

Carefully researched, completely engaging Sparks recounts a story that is so telling, and so profound in its implications, that it should be explored in every school in the land--and used as a touchstone for a new way of describing the birth of America.--Marc Aronson"School Library Journal" (05/08/2014)"

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Randy J. Sparks is Professor of History at Tulane University.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9744993c) von 5 Sternen 8 Rezensionen
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HASH(0x975302e8) von 5 Sternen vivid account of the port of Annamaboe, Ghana, in the eighteenth century 31. Juli 2014
Von hmf22 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Where the Negroes are Masters is a close-up, narrative account of the port of Annamaboe, in modern-day Ghana, during the eighteenth century. Sparks focuses on two of the town's most prominent residents, John Corrantee, a political leader and businessman, and Richard Brew, a slave trader and official of the Royal African Company, to illustrate the texture of trade and local politics in the community. An important theme of the book is how practices such as pawning (giving West African children to European traders as short-term hostages), sending elite West African boys to Europe for their education, and European traders' taking "country wives" allowed members of each culture to learn enough about the other to collaborate successfully. The great strength of this book is that--unlike many other accounts of the African side of the Atlantic slave trade--it focuses on a single place in time, so that one can see how the trade developed, and how conflicts developed, in this particular community. I was a little disappointed, though, that the book did not build from the early narrative chapters to more methodical analysis towards the end. I was hoping that the conclusion would relate Annamaboe to the larger story of how the rise and fall of the Atlantic slave trade affected communities in West Africa, but in fact it's just a summary.
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HASH(0x975388a0) von 5 Sternen False Parallelism and Blame Reassignment, typical of covert racists, the title of the book says it all. 31. März 2016
Von Celeste - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
A typical "blame reassignment" game of a book. 1.) Much of Africa (including Ghana) was colonized. Ghana was colonized in 1821, the majority of African chiefs were forced to participate in slavery. 2.) Being sold is where the comparison STOPS, everything else that happened after this is all on Whites. It isn't that we were sold, it's what happened afterwards, but true to White people's need to redirect blame, this is what we get, a book like this.

there is truth and there is White people's 'truth"... sensationalism and false equivalence. I'm just going to point out some real info, regardless of this pathetic book, this was rough draft write up and I have not had the time to rework it, but it will do:

From a historical standpoint, there is no ancient recorded history of African slavery, comparable to what slavery truly is. (SLAVic enslavement) Indentured servants are not property. They are workers paying off a debt. Slaves have *no* rights, in African servitude you did.

African servitude is different from slavery. While there were instances where you could be bartered or captured because of a crime (form of imprisonment); it wasn't slavery. As slavery was and is a European concept and practice, it's where we get the word and practice from. ''Slavery simplistically, is the LEGAL and STATE use of a people to build an economy through multiple generations of BORN SLAVE status where people have few to no rights/freedoms; that is not African servitude and we need to begin to look at it from an *African* one and not a *European* one, the two are different and are NOT interchangeable.''''

People have actively sought to put the Maafa (transatlantic) and African “slavery” on the same level.'' Yet while Europeans whipped, raped and boiled their captives, stripping them of their names and history, many African “slaves” were often indistinguishable from the wider community.''Generally they were well clothed and fed, and had decent living quarters. In fact many Africans came to be “slaves” not just as a result of tribal wars, but sometimes as a punishment for heinous crimes like murder.''Anyone convicted of killing a child, for example, was handed over to a life of servitude to the village of the victim. Other “slaves” were simply widows or people who had left their village of birth, perhaps out of shame or disgrace, and settled in a new society.''The Fulani and Kerebe peoples were known to adopt orphaned children from other tribes and the children obliged to fill a servitude role.''In the Malinke Empire, covering present-day Gambia and Guinea, "slavery" was sometimes a means to connect individuals where no biological or marriage bond existed.''And while African “slaves” [workers] were frequently at the bottom of the social order they had rights and could refuse to be sold to an owner they objected to, or complain to elders if they were treated harshly.''Atlanta-based African studies expert Omowale Za said these types of social order were world’s apart from the raw brutality of chattel slavery and the Middle Passage.''‘What we were subjected to was a war of enslavement by the Europeans where the enslaved person does not have any human value.''‘Other forms of "slavery" did not seek to dehumanise. Actually I don’t even consider other kinds of slavery to be slavery.’''Esther Stanford, from the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition, added: [B]‘There is a problem when we use English words like “slavery” which don’t reflect the concept of servitude in African society, which is not dehumanising.''‘We need to look at African servitude not through a European lens, but an African one, and unlearn the lies and half truths we’ve been told.''Unlike African servitude, European transatlantic slavery reduced the slave as existing only for the purpose of physical labour.''''And while whites nurtured race hatred towards their captives, in Africa masters valued their servants as equal human beings.''']It was also not uncommon for “servants” to marry into the village and shake off their former lowly status, not least in the Kanem Bornu Empire, covering Chad and Nigeria.''The ability to marry "non-servants" shows that these “slaves" (servants) were part of the fabric of the society they lived in.

Such social mobility was completely absent in chattel slavery."''In Africa there are several notable examples of how “servants” within society rose to become great kings and army chiefs.''The revered 19th century King Jaja, who ruled over Igboland in modern-day Nigeria, was sold to a chief as a twelve year old boy, but later ruled a breakaway kingdom that became rich trading powerhouse.''At the height of his rein King Jaja was captured by the British, who were desperate to get their hands on his land and wealth as the colonial scramble for Africa followed the ending of transatlantic slavery.''The British lured him to a meeting and shipped him to St. Vincent in the Caribbean. Another towering figure was Mansa Sakura, who was born as a “slave” into the royal household of Sundiata Keita in 13th Century Mali.''He became an army general and seized power amid a succession squabble. Such slaves have little, if anything, in common with slaves seized by traders from Britain and Europe who perpetrated the African Holocaust, taking between 20 and 50 million lives.''As white plantation owners inflicted terrible violence on chained Africans in order to subjugate them, Africans who were “servants” to other Africans were free to go as they pleased.''"Servants" in the 15th Century Songhai Empire, which superseded the Mali Empire, used to pay a share of their harvest to their master but were able to eat and trade with the rest.''Many were paid wages and were able to accumulate property. They often bought their own freedom [paid their debt] and could then achieve social promotion.''

African "servitude" was more akin to an arranged marriage; whereas chattel slavery was part of an organised economic machine with no benefit whatsoever for the slave.''Pennsylvanian historian, professor Igor Kopytoff, in his book African Slavery as an Institution of Marginality, argues that there was very little difference between the free workers and "servants."''''He wrote: “There were many types of involuntary servitude, which varied from tribe to tribe, but the common feature was respect for life and dignity.”''With the British media continuing to perpetrate the line that African-against-African ‘slavery’ was equal to the transatlantic slave trade and middle passage, we need to be setting our own parameters for debate regardless of what is happening in the mainstream.''Western African “servitude” may have been related to agriculture, but in Ethiopia it was essentially domestic, yet both forms allowed the slave to keep their own religion and culture. ''Most famously Tippu Tip, real name Ahmed bin Mohamed bin Juma el Marijibi, was a notorious slaver of African people in 19th Century Zanzibar.''Aside from [this], the majority of “slaves/servants” within African society were respected as people and often lived comfortably and embraced the role of serving others. Others were free to leave, while some went on to achieve great feats as rulers and army warriors.''Today, the very thought of Africans selling each other into the hands of evil European slave traders is enough to cause acute embarrassment.''It is often an aspect of transatlantic slavery which deters people of African descent today studying this period of our collective history. Yet the dynamics of how, and why, Africans sold each other is often given scant attention.''Not least the way the white Europeans exploited tensions between the patchwork of African Empires and societies. This included giving guns to a favoured tribe in wars with a rival tribe.''The superior firepower of Europeans also held the threat of enslavement if Africans refused to help them, which raises the question about whether the “traitors” were also victims.''European slave traders were known for enslaving Africans who were helping them capture others whenever the mood took them, or if the helpers became disabled or weak.''There is also evidence that African societies which strongly resisted white oppression, such as the Ashanti, sold their own prisoners of war and criminals to slave traders even as they fought for their own survival.''It is critical that a working definition of slavery be sought. J.D F.A.G.e asserted that, "a slave was a man or woman who was owned by another person, whose labour was regarded as having economic value, and whose person had a commercial value" (F.A.G.e, 156). Others see the term slavery as applying strictly to chattel slavery, where the rights of the individual are completely absent. [B]While the common link between almost all the definitions of slavery has been the ownership of the individual by another and this may seem to be a perfectly logical definition, the complexities and differences in the states of such people, the conditions of such ownership and the preservation of inalienable human rights varied so widely from country to country that it is difficult to develop a static idea of what constitutes slavery. In African societies, servitude was akin to an arranged marriage, whereas Chattel slavery was a state organized economic institution [this is not African servitude].[/B] ''While there were persons who did exist in various states of bondage and sometimes purely as commodities, many of them possessed and effectively retained the inalienable human rights of free men and women.

In traditional African systems of kinship, the members of lineage groups " owned" their members who then constituted lineage wealth. [B]Everyone in the community is dependent upon or bound to another to some extent, whether slave or free. To say that a "slave" is simply the property or another does not adequately describe the condition of bonded dependents in an African context.[/B]''It is clear that European explorers, merchants and slavers who observed systems of what they termed 'slavery' operating in African societies had a poor understanding of the communal nature of the African ethos and the nature of family and kinship ties. Mbaye Gueye makes an astute observation: "The African ideal is that of a community existence based on powerful family ties with a view to a well ordered secure life. People only count as far as they are part of a harmonious, homogenous entity" (Gueye) What we see is a focus on community over individuality; persons' individual rights only exist as far as it benefits the community. [/B]As observed among the Fulani and the Bu Kerebe tribes, children who were abandoned by their own people were taken under servitude, in which case the child would then owe his saviors lifelong service. Also, adults and children could be bartered for grain in times of famine to save the rest of the group. To complicate the issue even further, the nature of these dependencies varied decidedly from state to state, in terms of acquisition, the factors that would allow someone to legally become 'enslaved', and the condition of these bonded individuals. Unredeemed hostages taken in times of war could end up in servitude, and in compensation for homicide a child of the offending clan could be taken into servitude by the clan of the victim. This particular circumstance was immortalized in the novel based on Igbo culture, Things Fall Apart (Achebe), where a child of the offending clan was sent to serve the family of one of the leading clansmen of the wronged clan. This was a sort of peace offering to prevent the clans going to war. What is to be noted in this example is that, for the most part, the child was incorporated into the family and was seen as a son. The servants/dependents did not form a separate class of labourers for the clan. The dependent could play as minor or as major a role in the clan as the elders saw fit.

Some provided extra wives and children to expand a kin group, were labour to till the fields, soldiers for warfare, or they served as trading agents and officials at court.''What marks the dependent's condition in African contexts is the versatility and multiplicity of his status. Slaves were used to support, build and assist at all levels of the society, and thus in many societies that were still pre-currency, the human resource was the most powerful determinant of wealth, and ensured the effective survival of the clan. This is a world apart from the circumstances and conditions of African slavery in the Americas. There, slaves served the sole purpose of provision of labour, and would forever remain in an exploited underclass. There was no mobility or prospect of freedom and the reasons for acquisition were uniform. Slaves in the Americas were not human beings; they were merchandise. Thus when European slavers, anti-abolitionists and historians stated that the slave condition was already present in African societies and all they did was shift the location of the labour, they were not only wrong, but engaging in a mischievous distortion of the facts. While many Africans did exist in various states of bondage, it is there that the comparison with European-American slavery ends. African servitude cannot be fully understood simply within the triad of land, labour demands and capital (Miers & Kopytoff) While in the Americas slaves were an exploited underclass that propped up the economic and social fabric of the society, African dependents were part and parcel of the fabric of society.''While we have explored the nature of the indigenous African systems of servitude and distinguished them clearly from the slavery that existed in the Americas [and Europe], attention must be paid to the prevalence of this type of servitude. Just how widespread and deeply entrenched were these systems of servitude in African societies before the 15th and 16th centuries? The answer is not so easy to determine and scholars vary in their conclusions. Walter Rodney is one of the historians most strident in his claim that there is little to no evidence that supports the existence of large groups of slaves or indentured servitude systems before European intervention. ''Early European slave traders who provided the fodder for the so-called 'conventional' view in question would have us believe that African rulers already had large stocks of slaves that were peripheral to their societies and available for 'fair trade' with Europeans, that "many Negroes transported to the Americas had been slaves in Africa before captivity" (Rodney 62) Rodney however was struck by the absence of literature from the period of European first contact that speaks of this widespread slaving phenomenon on the Upper Guinea Coast. Wherever the few references to 'slaves' did exist, upon investigation we find that they refer to small groups of "potential clients in the households of chiefs or refer to the subjects of absolute chiefs" (Rodney 63) and other domestic servants bound to the households. ''PEOPLE AS "PROPERTY" ''Revue Internationale des droits de l’Antiquité LI (2004)''[B]4. Africa: Understanding of property/patrimonial rights[/B]''In ancient African law, the concept of property or a patrimonial'asset differed from the known Western conception. Importantly, in traditional African legal cultures one finds the concept of “rights in persons”. 

Within a Western framework of rights, one would be'tempted to explain these rights as real rights, given their patrimonial nature, and to infer that the persons who were the objects of such rights, were also slaves. In fact, it has often been said by the earliest observers of ancient African societies, that all men were slaves to the King41.''However, African hierarchical social organization was complex,'and the concept of rights quite different to the Western concept. The African notion of rights can be understood only in the context of the pervading importance of the group. In traditional African societies all members of the group were to some extent dependent upon one another. That is why not even kings were regarded as totally free 42.''The most important feature of these societies which may shed light on the African system of interdependency43, is the prominence of the group. Preservation of the group was a fundamental underlying principle which directed social, political and legal ordering.''Pre-contact African societies were subsistence societies and the individual's only means of survival was through the continued support of the group. The indigenous African approach to law is permeated by the idea that equilibrium in the community should be maintained and that failure in social relations results in misfortune. The concept of a family, or a group, encompassed a wide variety of both living and deceased people, not necessarily related by blood or marriage44.''Rights and duties vested in the group and not in individuals.''Members of a group shared in these rights in accordance with their status, which was determined by gender, maturity, marriage and a complicated system of ranking 45. Rights in ancient African law are usually explained in terms of the Western theory of rights. There are two kinds of rights in African law which are relevant to bondage, namely rights of ownership and rights of guardianship. Both these concern the group's estate and may thus be compared with patrimonial rights.''Traditionally, rights of guardianship or authority were rights over'persons. The object of such a right was an individual’s freedom46.Thus, guardianship entitled the group to an individual's earnings and services. In the case of a woman, services encompassed her labour, reproductive capacity and sexual privileges. When she married, these were transferred from her group to her husband’s group for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a family. In exchange, her husband’s group transferred goods for value (called lobolo, or bridewealth) to her group47.''Where the right of guardianship was infringed, damages were awarded to the group. For example, in the case of the seduction and rape of an unmarried woman, damages were awarded for the reduction in value of the bridewealth (analogous to the Roman dowry) which could have been acquired by her group had she been given in marriage.

In the case of adultery, rape or abduction of a married woman, damages were awarded to her group for the diminution of the value of their right of authority over the woman or for their deprivation of her services as worker and child bearer48. Also for homicide damages were awarded for the infringement of the right of authority. It becomes clear that all people belonging to the agnatic group were potentially the objects of rights49.''From this exposition it is only natural to ask whether, if not all'members of the group, at least women were not "slaves" in indigenous societies. After all, the group had a patrimonial right over a woman, and seemingly, both her person and her services had an economic value50. It should be borne in mind, though, that the rights in persons were not rights of ownership as in the Western sense of the word.''These were unique rights shared by all members of the group. In fact, each member had a share in the right of authority over himself or herself. The members of the African group could not be regarded as property which was freely transferable. The importance of preserving the group and the harmony within it, as explained above, would have prevented trade in anybody belonging to the group. ''Members of the group therefore did not fit into the Roman paradigm of slaves.''However, as will become apparent in the limited discussion that'follows, there was bondage not slavery in pre-contact African societies.

 It has to be borne in mind though that the slave trade instigated a fundamental change in the nature of slavery and in a proliferation in slavery amongst Africans to satisfy the demands of the slave traders. References to slavery in academic writings often refer to the institution as it prevailed after contact with the European or Arab slave traders. The most revealing indicator that slavery is discussed in a post-contact paradigm, is the reference to the selling of people in slavery in pre-contact Africa, a barter economy, and, consequently barter, not sale was prevalent.[/B]''[B]4.1. The West African Slave Coast[/B]''Anti-abolitionists, traders and historians alike commonly justified the African slave trade by arguing that slavery was an institution well known in traditional Africa, and that the European-driven Atlantic slave trade was merely a continuation of an existing and entrenched African cultural institution. The example generally referred to is that of Dahomey in West-Africa51, a country renowned for its harsh and exploitative chattel slavery. As against this, the standard counterargument is that slavery was not a relic of primitive African'antiquity52 and that where it did exist, it never developed beyond its initial stages. It is further argued that the extreme violence experienced in some societies was due to “European corruption53”, and that where Atlantic traders found a flourishing slave system, it was due to the trans- Saharan slave trade54.''An investigation into the historical existence of slavery in forty'ancient West African societies, which was conducted in the 1960s, revealed that the institution existed in only thirteen of them55. Consistent with African social organisation, the people were most commonly integrated in the production process of the subsistence family unit or used as warriors or servants in the royal courts56. 

As in Roman law, slaves were in a subordinate dependent position from which they could not escape unilaterally. The fact that in some instances the slaves were inhumanely treated, subject to humiliation and insult, performed the least respected functions and rigorous work,and had a very low social status57, may have been a later development under the influence of the trans Atlantic slave trade.[/B]''"Slavery" [servitude] prevailed widely also in the Western Congo, in Central Africa, and seems to have been an important institution in precolonial times. It is said that in the Congo "enslavement" (bondage)  was a common penalty for crimes such as murder, poisoning, witchcraft and other anti-social acts which threatened the cohesion of the group58. This is in line with the fact that in ancient Africa, ostracism, whether in the form of banishment or bondage which alienated the individual from the group, was regarded as a very serious punishment. 

Also compatible with the prevailing importance of preserving and continuing the group is the evidence that a childless husband could take slave children and make them part of his clan and that he could use servant wives to bear him children59.

 In contrast, other references to slavery may rest on a'misconception of the matrilineal kinship organisation of these'societies. Thus reference to the extensive powers of the mother’s brother over his sister’s children, which included the power of life and death, is not conclusive of the existence of slavery60.''Much more complex because it is not what people think of as slavery, because it is not and was not slavery. It was servitude which is totally different in many regards to slavery.
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HASH(0x97530e4c) von 5 Sternen Slavery from Africa 5. Mai 2014
Von Lawrence D. Ink - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This book does an excellent job of explaining how the African slave trade developed and the role of Africans in that trade. Most books about slavery focus on the lives of slaves after coming to America, but this book focuses on how the Africans sold slaves to the British and the relationship between the British and Africans. Randy Sparks writes mostly about the town of of Annamaboe, on the coast of today's Ghana, where the bulk of African slaves were sold to British traders. Europeans were initially interested in getting gold from that area so it became known as the Gold Coast, but in the 18th century their main interest switched from buying gold to buying slaves to be sold in the Caribbean and the American colonies. Randy Sparks gives detailed accounts of various Africans who sold slaves to the British and how they moved back and forth between the worlds of Europe and Africa. Many of the wealthy African traders had their sons educated in England and France where they learned the ways of the Europeans they were trading with.
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HASH(0x9753ba8c) von 5 Sternen The African point of the triangular Slave - Rum - Sugar trade well described 8. Dezember 2014
Von gt surber - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Review – Where the Negroes are Masters by Randy Sparks

“Where the Negroes are Masters” is the story of the major British slave and gold trading port in West Africa, on the Gold Coast, Annamaboe. Annamaboe is a city that thrived only during the slave trade. This is the story of it's rise and fall. It still exists, but only as a mere shadow of it's former glory.

The intrigues, diplomacy successes and failures, the strong personalities, the strife between the Native Tribes (mostly Fante and Asante) and the British with extensions into the French and Spanish and Portuguese, the battles and problems of governing such a place, the cultures and empires of the Fante and the Asante, the Native merchants and rulers and peoples, and much more are well described and their interactions discussed.

Randy Sparks enables us to see the “Atlantic World” of trade between South America, North America, Europe and Africa. In this book Randy focuses on the Gold Coast and its role. The other legs of the “Black Atlantic” are in many other books. This is a side of the story seldom told til recently. We even get a chapter on slave trading in the African interior between the African Empires.

The book is well and interestingly written. The stories of power and greed and gore are well done. The reader comes away from the book with a much better understanding of Africa and the Gold Coast slave trade. The detail is amazing, gleaned from historical records and primary sources. The notes and bibliography are nearly 25% of the book.

For a more reading on the slave trade, I recommend both Meredith Martin's “The Fortunes of Africa” A 5000 Year History of Wealth Greed and Endeavor,” and Paul Lovejoy's “Transformations in Slavery (African Studies).” These two give a wide angle view of the slave trade where Sparks chose to concentrate on one major port. For a modern, not Eurocentric view, both the wide angle and the sharp focus are recommended.
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HASH(0x9753bc24) von 5 Sternen The Fantes 12. April 2014
Von TRN - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
An eye opening account of the role of Africans in controlling the slave trade from the Gold Coast of Ghana.
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