The story of British imperialism would concede some space to the heroism of a Zulu leader who successfully led his people to victory in a war against the British in 1879.King  Cetshwayo KaMpande was the legend in the Angli-Zulu war popularly called the battle of Isandlwana.Or can we ever forget Almany Suluku,the great head of the Limba Kingdom in Sierra Leone who ingenious political sagacity kept his tribe independent in the face of pervasive British colonisation?He gave the British impression that he was a loyal ally with messages of solidarity to the British Governor in Freetown and befitting welcome to all British delegation that came to Bumban while he pursued his own independent policy,unhindered.

 Then ,suddenly came the agonising,and sometimes sanguinary period of some 200 years starting from the mid 17th century (some records put it even earlier) in which Africans,some 20 million people were purchased like goods and transported across the Atlantic.

 Within that darkest period in world history,ships would set sail from Europe,laden with assorted manufactured goods to the cheap ones-rums,cigarettes,lighters and mirrors,and head to the west coast of Africa.On arrival,these goods were traded for people ,mostly young,energetic and healthy men,raided,captured and chained by their own people,ready for the European slave traders.

 Some powerful African monarchs and even individuals built and sustained breathtaking wealth through the slave trade.The ships,when loaded to the brim with the enslaved,crammed together in the ship's hold,legs and hands shackled with chains with little or no space for change of their positions,would then depart for the Americas or the Caribbean where the enslaved would disembark to work on plantations.

 Many died in transit due to weariness and the squalidness of the ships.When the ships were completely emptied out of slaves,they were then loaded with tobacco,rum,sugar and other items,products to the plantations,destined for European markets.

There was a sprinkle of diamonds among the stones of African leaders of that dark era who bluntly refused to raid their own people and even campaigned and/or fought for the abolishment  of slave trade.These were the legends of that era..

 In 1514,Oba Ozolua,the king of Benin in what is now Nigeria sent an embassy to Portugal to lodge a complaint about Portuguese slaving activities  and from 1516 until the 18th century,the Benin Kingdom placed embargo on slave and traded with Europeans with ivory,beads,and all sorts,instead of slaves.

King Afonso 1 of Kongo also displayed similar statesmanship with his letter to King Joao III of Portugal in 1526.''It is our wish that this kingdom should be a place neither of trade nor of transit of slaves;'' he wrotes.

 In 1725,King Agaja Trudo of Dahomey sent an emissary to England to express his rejection of trade with slavers.He followed this with a sustained anti-slaving war in which the ports of Whydah and Allada ,and several slaves-holding forts were burnt.He ordered the blockage of land routes through which raided people were brought into the coastal markets and also executed quite a handful of European slavers.

 Same was gallantry Queen Nzinngha of Angola who led her army against the Portuguese in 11627 in a war that lasted 30 years until the Portuguese negotiated a Treaty with her in 1656.

                           TO BE CONTINUED.


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