Dutch Slave Coast
The Slave Coast around 1716.
|Capital|| Offra (1660–1691)|
The Dutch Slave Coast (Dutch: Slavenkust) refers to the trading posts of the Dutch West India Company on the Slave Coast, which lie in contemporary Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria. The primary purpose of the trading post was to supply slaves for the Dutch colonies in the Americas. Dutch involvement on the Slave Coast started with the establishment of a trading post in Offra in 1660. Later, trade shifted to Ouidah, where the English and French also had a trading post. Political unrest caused the Dutch to abandon their trading post at Ouidah in 1725, now moving to Jaquim, at which place they built Fort Zeelandia. By 1760, the Dutch had abandoned their last trading post in the region.
The Slave Coast was settled from the Dutch Gold Coast, on which the Dutch were based in Elmina. During its existence, the Slave Coast held a close relationship to that colony.
According to various sources, the Dutch West India Company began sending servants regularly to the Ajaland capital of Allada from 1640 onward. The Dutch had in the decades before begun to take an interest in the Atlantic slave trade due to their capture of northern Brazil from the Portuguese. Willem Bosman writes in his Nauwkeurige beschrijving van de Guinese Goud- Tand- en Slavekust (1703) that Allada was also called Grand Ardra, being the larger cousin of Little Ardra, also known as Offra. From 1660 onward, Dutch presence in Allada and especially Offra became more permanent.A report from this year asserts Dutch trading posts, apart from Allada and Offra, in Benin City, Grand-Popo, and Savi.
The Offra trading post soon became the most important Dutch office on the Slave Coast. According to a 1670 report, annually 2,500 to 3,000 slaves were transported from Offra to the Americas and writing of the 1690s, Bosman commented of the trade at Fida, "markets of men are here kept in the same manner as those of beasts are with us."Numbers of slaves declined in times of conflict. From 1688 onward, the struggle between the Aja king of Allada and the peoples on the coastal regions, impeded the supply of slaves. The Dutch West India Company chose the side of the Aja king, causing the Offra office to be destroyed by opposing forces in 1692. After this debacle, Dutch involvement on the Slave Coast came more or less to a halt.
During his second voyage to Benin, David van Nyendael visited the king of Benin in Benin City. His detailed description of this journey was included as an appendix to Willem Bosman's Nauwkeurige beschrijving van de Guinese Goud- Tand- en Slavekust (1703). His description of the kingdom remains valuable as one of the earliest detailed descriptions of Benin.
On the instigation of Governor-General of the Dutch Gold Coast Willem de la Palma, Jacob van den Broucke was sent in 1703 as "opperkommies" (head merchant) to the Dutch trading post at Ouidah, which according to sources was established around 1670. Ouidah was also a slave-trading center for other European slave traders, making this place the likely candidate for the new main trading post on the Slave Coast..
Political unrest was also the reason for the Ouidah office to close in 1725. The company this time moved their headquarters to Jaquim, situated more easterly.The head of the post, Hendrik Hertog, had a reputation for being a successful slave trader. In an attempt to extend his trading area, Hertog negotiated with local tribes and mingled in local political struggles. He sided with the wrong party, however, leading to a conflict with Director-General Jan Pranger and to his exile to the island of Appa in 1732. The Dutch trading post on this island was extended as the new centre of slave trade. In 1733, Hertog returned to Jaquim, this time extending the trading post into Fort Zeelandia. The revival of slave trade at Jaquim was only temporary, however, as his superiors at the Dutch West India Company noticed that Hertog's slaves were more expensive than at the Gold Coast. From 1735, Elmina became the preferred spot to trade slaves.
The transatlantic slave trade resulted in a vast and as yet unknown loss of life for African captives both in and outside the Americas. "More than a million people are thought to have died" during their transport to the New World according to a BBC report.More died soon after their arrival. The number of lives lost in the procurement of slaves remains a mystery but may equal or exceed the number who survived to be enslaved.
The savage nature of the trade led to the destruction of individuals and cultures. Historian Ana Lucia Araujo has noted that the process of enslavement did not end with arrival on Western Hemisphere shores; the different paths taken by the individuals and groups who were victims of the Atlantic slave trade were influenced by different factors—including the disembarking region, the ability to be sold on the market, the kind of work performed, gender, age, religion, and language.
Patrick Manning estimates that about 12 million slaves entered the Atlantic trade between the 16th and 19th century, but about 1.5 million died on board ship. About 10.5 million slaves arrived in the Americas. Besides the slaves who died on the Middle Passage, more Africans likely died during the slave raids in Africa and forced marches to ports. Manning estimates that 4 million died inside Africa after capture, and many more died young. Manning's estimate covers the 12 million who were originally destined for the Atlantic, as well as the 6 million destined for Asian slave markets and the 8 million destined for African markets.Of the slaves shipped to The Americas, the largest share went to Brazil and the Caribbean.
|Place in West Africa||Est.||Disest.||Comments|
|Offra (Pla, Cleen Ardra, Klein Ardra, Offra)||1660||1691||As the original head trading post at the Dutch Slave Coast, Offra was established in 1660. According to a 1670 report, 2,500 to 3,000 slaves were transported annually from Offra. Due to the Dutch siding with the Aja in the local political struggles, the fort was destroyed in 1692.|
|Allada (Ardra, Ardres, Arder, Allada, Harder)||1660||?||According to sources, the Dutch West India Company began sending servants to Allada, the capital of Ajaland, already in 1640. In some sources, Allada is referred to as "Grand Ardra", to contrast it with "Little Ardra", which is another name for Offra.|
|Benin City||1660||1740||In contemporary Nigeria.|
|Savi (Sabee, Xavier, Savy, Savé, Sabi, Xabier)||1660||?||In the beginning of the 18th century, the Dutch had a small trading post in Savi (capital of the Kingdom of Whydah), next to the Royal Palace. Compared to the English and French trading posts, the Dutch post was rather minimalistic in nature.|
|Ouidah (Fida, Whydah, Juda, Hueda, Whidah)||1670||1725||Ouidah was a center for slave trading on the slave coast. In 1703, Governor-General of the Gold Coast Willem de la Palma sent Jacob van den Broucke as "head merchant" to Ouidah in 1703. Abandoned in 1725, in favour of the post at Jaquim, due to political unrest at the Slave Coast.|
|Agathon (Aggathon, Agotton)||1717||?||The trading post at Agathon, in contemporary Nigeria, was situated on a hill on the banks of the Benin River (also: Rio Formoso). Agathon was an important post for the trade in clothes, especially the so-called "Benijnse panen". In 1718-1719, the post produced 31,092 pounds of ivory.|
|Jaquim (Jaquin, Jakri, Godomey, Jakin)||1726||1734||One of the most successful post at the slave coast. Became the head post after Ouidah was abandoned in 1725. In 1733 Fort Zeelandia was built here, but two years later, the directors of the Dutch West India Company decided to shift the slave trade to Elmina Castle, where slaves were cheaper.|
|Aného (Petit Popo, Little Popo, Klein Popo, Popou)||1731||1760||Little Popo, also known as Aného, was the most westerly post on the Slave Coast. Due to this, the post suffered from competition of the Danish Africa Company, based at the Danish Gold Coast.|
|Appa 1||1732||1736?||The island of Appa lies to the east of Offra. To this island, Hendrik Hertog, the merchant at Jaquim, fled in 1732 when he sided with the defeated party in a local conflict. On this island, a new trading post was founded, which was supposed to replace Jaquim. Appa and rebuilt Jaquim, now known as Fort Zeelandia, became a prominent centre of slave trade for some time, until 1735, when the Dutch West India Company decided to shift slave supply to Elmina on the Gold Coast. Hertog fled to Pattackerie in 1738, fearing that Appa would be attacked by local tribes as well.|
|Appa 2 (Epe, Ekpe)||1732||1755?||Appa 2 is the name used in some literature to refer to the trading post Hendrik Hertog fled to from the island of Appa, east of Offra. He named the new post Appa as well, but this post was situated near Pattackerie (contemporary Badagri).|
|Badagri (Pattackerie)||1737||1748||Referred to on the Atlas of Mutual Heritage as a separate trading post distinct from "Appa 2", also located at Badagri. It is unsure whether there were two separate trading posts in reality, or that the posts are one and the same.|
|Meidorp (Meiborg)||?||?||Meidorp was situated at the River Benin (also: Rio Formoso). It was a simple lodge, named by Dutch traders. It was abandoned after the last merchant named Beelsnijder turned the local population against him, due to his tactless approach towards them.|
The Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants as well as foreign investors. Among its founders was Willem Usselincx (1567–1647) and Jessé de Forest (1576–1624). On 3 June 1621, it was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea. The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants. The company became instrumental in the largely ephemeral Dutch colonization of the Americas in the seventeenth century. From 1624 to 1654, in the context of the Dutch-Portuguese War, the GWC held Portuguese territory in northeast Brazil, but they were ousted from Dutch Brazil following fierce resistance.
Agaja was a king of the Kingdom of Dahomey, in present-day Benin, who ruled from 1718 until 1740. He came to the throne after his brother King Akaba. During his reign, Dahomey expanded significantly and took control of key trade routes for the Atlantic slave trade by conquering Allada (1724) and Whydah (1727). Wars with the powerful Oyo Empire to the east of Dahomey resulted in Agaja accepting tributary status to that empire and providing yearly gifts. After this, Agaja attempted to control the new territory of the kingdom of Dahomey through militarily suppressing revolts and creating administrative and ceremonial systems. Agaja died in 1740 after another war with the Oyo Empire and his son Tegbessou became the new king. Agaja is credited with creating many of the key government structures of Dahomey, including the Yovogan and the Mehu.
The Fon people, also called Fon nu, Agadja or Dahomey, are a Gbe ethnic group. They are the largest ethnic group in Benin found particularly in its south region; they are also found in southwest Nigeria and Togo. Their total population is estimated to be about 3,500,000 people, and they speak the Fon language, a member of the Gbe languages.
The Aja are an ethnic group native to south-western Benin and south-eastern Togo. According to oral tradition, the Aja migrated to southern Benin in the 12th or 13th centuries from Tado on the Mono River, and c. 1600, three brothers, Kokpon, Do-Aklin, and Te-Agdanlin, split the ruling of the region then occupied by the Aja amongst themselves: Kokpon took the capital city of Great Ardra, reigning over the Allada kingdom; Do-Aklin founded Abomey, which would become capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey; and Te-Agdanlin founded Little Ardra, also known as Ajatche, later called Porto Novo by Portuguese traders and the current capital city of Benin.
The Slave Coast is a historical name formerly used for that part of coastal West Africa along the Bight of Benin that is located between the Volta River and the Lagos Lagoon. The name is derived from the region's history as a major source of African people taken into slavery during the Atlantic slave trade from the early 16th century to the late 19th century.
Ouidah or Whydah, formerly the chief port of the Kingdom of Whydah, is a city on the coast of the Republic of Benin. The commune covers an area of 364 km2 (141 sq mi) and as of 2002 had a population of 76,555 people.
Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 as Castelo de São Jorge da Mina, also known as Castelo da Mina or simply Mina, in present-day Elmina, Ghana. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, after an unsuccessful attempt to the same extent in 1596, and took over all of the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain.
Elmina, also known as Edina by the local Fante, is a town and the capital of the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem District on the south coast of Ghana in the Central Region, situated on a bay on the Atlantic Ocean, 12 kilometres west of Cape Coast. Elmina was the first European settlement in West Africa and it has a population of 33,576 people.
The Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá is a small restored fort in Ouidah, Benin. Built in 1721, it was the last of three European forts built in that town to tap the slave trade of the Slave Coast. Following the legal abolition of the slave trade early in the 19th century, the Portuguese fort lay abandoned most of the time until it was permanently reoccupied in 1865.
Allada is a town, arrondissement, and commune, located in the Atlantique Department of Benin.
The Dutch Gold Coast or Dutch Guinea, officially Dutch possessions on the Coast of Guinea was a portion of contemporary Ghana that was gradually colonized by the Dutch, beginning in 1612. The Dutch began trading in the area around 1598, joining the Portuguese which had a trading post there since the late 1400s. Eventually, the Dutch Gold Coast became the most important Dutch colony in West Africa after Fort Elmina was captured from the Portuguese in 1637, but fell into disarray after the abolition of the slave trade in the early 19th century. On 6 April 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast was, in accordance with the Anglo-Dutch Treaties of 1870–71, ceded to the United Kingdom.
The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However, the social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.
Grand-Popo is a town, arrondissement, and commune in the Mono Department of south-western Benin. The commune covers an area of 289 square kilometres and as at the 2013 Census had a population of 57,636 people.
Fort Saint Anthony was a fort built by the Portuguese in 1515 near the town of Axim, in what is now Ghana. In 1642, the Dutch captured the fort and subsequently made it part of the Dutch Gold Coast. The Dutch expanded the fort considerably before they turned it over, with the rest of their colony, to the British in 1872. The fort is now the property of the Ghanaian state and is open to the public.
Badagry is a coastal town and Local Government Area (LGA) in Lagos State, Nigeria. It is between the city of Lagos and share a border with the Republic of Benin. As of the preliminary 2006 census results, the municipality had a population of 241,093.
David van Nyendael, also van Nijendael, was a Dutch mulatto merchant and diplomat in the service of the Dutch West India Company, and stationed at the Dutch Gold Coast.
The History of the Kingdom of Dahomey spans 400 years from around 1600 until 1904 with the rise of the Kingdom of Dahomey as a major power on the Atlantic coast of modern-day Benin until French conquest. The kingdom became a major regional power in the 1720s when it conquered the coastal kingdoms of Allada and Whydah. With control over these key coastal cities, Dahomey became a major center in the Atlantic Slave Trade until 1852 when the British imposed a naval blockade to stop the trade. War with the French began in 1892 and the French took over the Kingdom of Dahomey in 1894. The throne was vacated by the French in 1900, but the royal families and key administrative positions of the administration continued to have a large impact in the politics of the French administration and the post-independence Republic of Dahomey, renamed Benin in 1975. Historiography of the kingdom has had a significant impact on work far beyond African history and the history of the kingdom forms the backdrop for a number of novels and plays.
Panyarring was the practice of seizing and holding persons until the repayment of debt or resolution of a dispute which became a common activity along the Atlantic coast of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The practice developed from pawnship, a common practice in West Africa where members of a family borrowing money would be pledged as collateral to the family providing credit until the repayment of the debt. Panyarring though is different from this practice as it involves the forced seizure of persons when a debt was not repaid.
The Kingdom of Ardra, also known as the Kingdom of Allada, was a coastal West African kingdom in what is now southern Benin. It was named for its capital, the modern Allada, which was also the main city and major port of the realm.