Post-Emancipation Slave Commerce: Increasing Child Slave Trafficking and Women’s Agency in Late Nineteenth-century Ghana

  • K Adu-Boahen


Victims of all slave trading systems in Africa always included significant numbers of children, but, until the nineteenth century, these formed smaller proportions of total volumes of trade slaves. Following abolition, however, the age/sex ratio of trade slaves began to shift as slave trading in children increased. Child-slave trading assumed a more expansive dimension when later in the nineteenth century European colonial powers, as a strategy for interfering and destroying indigenous slavery in their colonies, outlawed and criminalized slave trading. In Ghana a brisk trade in child-slaves from northern to southern Ghana grew after the passage of an anti-slave Ordinance in 1874. This paper examines the paradox of post-abolition child- slave trading in the Ghana. It explains the increasing availability of children in the north-south slave marketing network, child trafficking strategies and women‟s role in these, and the factors which sustained both demand and supply. Its main argument is that the entry of foreign slave raiders in northern Ghana created a supply mechanism which invigorated a north-south trade and that this mechanism was kept vibrant by an increasing demand in the south for child slaves in the face of the relative scarcity of adult captives

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eISSN: 1596-5031