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Political Economy of East Africa

Ch: 4 Legacies of Slavery and Colonialism in East Africa


part of Africas current underdevelopment be explained by its slave trade? ..The detrimental impacts of the slave trades arise because the capture of slaves occurred by Africans raiding other Africans (Levjoy 1974)


term effect of Colonialism 4.2State and Society Relations and State Capabilities in East Africa 4.3 Contemporary East Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism 4.4Case Study: Why Somalilands recognition depends on the West Consent?

4.1 Long term effects of Colonialism

What was the impact of the transatlantic slave trade on African economies and societies? Traditional answers have tended to focus on depopulation. Studies by Patrick Manning (1990), and McEvedy and Jones (1978) conclude that the slave trade slowed population growth in Africa and may have even reduced the aggregate population between 1700 and 1850. But the causal impact of population growth on development is difficult to assess.1

4.1 Long term effects of Colonialism

Orlando Patterson (1982) calls the production of slaves the production of "social death.'' It is a violent process where a person is brought to the brink of death, spared and then ritualistically put to social death, left to owe the remainder of their life to another person. One would think that centuries of producing social death would leave a mark on social outcomes and institutions, some with lasting consequences for development.


First of all, slave raiding disrupts production and social life in general. Where slave raiding is frequent, ethnic boundaries and the ability to distinguish insider from outsider might proliferate as people struggle to manage the risk of being caught. Similarly, an increase in the profitability of slave raiding might induce elites to raid for slaves rather than build powerful states,


How widespread was slave production in Africa? It is impossible to know with any degree of confidence, but we venture a guess. Between the 16th and 19th centuries more than 13 million slaves were produced in Africa and transported across the Atlantic. 77 percent of these slaves (10.1 million) were produced along the West and West Central coasts of Africa during the 150 years between 1701 and 1850.

Economic and Social Effects of Slave Trade

The model reveals the conditions under which the slave trade reduced the size of states. increased social and ethnic stratification and created a reign of terror. It also roughly trace out the impact of changing slave prices and capture technology on these features of African economies and societies.

The Slave Trade and African Development

Our discussion begins with Walter Rodney's book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972). Rodney argues that the slave trade fundamentally altered African economies. First, the slave trade discouraged state-building and encouraged slave raiding. It encouraged the capture of slaves for sale and discouraged the capture of land and the cultivation of a citizenry for the purposes of taxation. Quoting Rodney, "...there have been times in history when social groups have grown stronger by raiding their neighbors for women, cattle, and goods, because they then use the "booty'' from the raids for the benefits of their own community.

The Slave Trade and African Development .

Captives were shipped outside instead of being utilized within any given African community for creating wealth from nature (page 100).'' And, "[i]f the prisoners were to develop into a true serf class, then those prisoners would have had to be guaranteed the right to remain fixed on the soil and protected from sale (page 118).'' There is some empirical support for Rodney's underdevelopment thesis. Looking at the relationship between GDP per capita today and participation in the slave trade centuries ago, Nathan Nunn (2008) finds that the slave trade had a negative long-term effect on economic performance.

The Slave Trade and African Development .

He also presents preliminary evidence which suggests that the legacy of the slave trade operated through increased ethnic diversity and underdeveloped political structures. Studies of contemporary Africa tend to support the view that ethnic diversity and underdeveloped states have contributed to Africa's poor economic performance in the post World War II period. Easterly and Levine (1997) argue that a quarter of the difference between the post-WWII growth experiences of African and Asian economies can be explained by the greater ethnic diversity in Africa. Perhaps centuries of slave raiding increased the cultural value of being able to quickly and easily distinguish friend from foe .

The Slave Trade and African Development .

Similarly, Robert Bates (2008) argues that the predatory nature of the post-colonial state in Africa created political and military challenges to its authority. When the challenges intensified, ethnic stratification also intensified to the point where "things fell apart.''

4.2 State and Society Relations and State Capabilities in East Africa

The conflict between communities, caused by the external demand for slaves, resulted in conflict within communities. Because of the general environment of uncertainty and insecurity at the time, individuals required weapons, such as iron knives, spears, swords or firearms, to defend themselves. These weapons could be obtained from Europeans in exchange for slaves, which were often obtained through local kidnappings.


This further perpetuated the slave trade and the insecurity that it caused, which in turn further increased the need to enslave others to protect oneself (Mahadi, 1992; Hawthorne, 1999, pp. 108109). Historians have named this vicious cycle the gunslave cycle (e.g., Lovejoy, 2000) or the iron-slave cycle (e.g., Hawthorne, 2003). The result of this vicious cycle was that communities not only raided other communities for slaves, but also members of a community raided and kidnapped others within the community. Well-documented examples come from the Balanta, of modern day Guinea-Bissau, who became involved in slaving, often preying on other Balanta communities and the Minyanka, of modern day Mali, who were forced by rival states into participation in slave-raiding and bitter conflict between [other] Minyanka villages (Klein, 2001, pp. 5657).


In the end, the consequences of internal conflict and insecurity were increased political instability, and in many cases the collapse of pre-existing forms of government (Lovejoy, 2000, pp. 6870). Historians have documented numerous examples of this. In 16th century Northern Senegambia, the Portuguese slave trade led to the eventual disintegration of the Joloff Confederation, which was replaced by the much smaller kingdoms of Waalo, Kajoor, Baol, Siin and Saalum. Further south, in Southern Senegambia, the same pattern is observed.

Class Discussion

Why Somalilands recognition depends on the West Consent? 5-10 Minutes

4.3 Contemporary East Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism

What are the legacies of late Colonialism in A. Somaliland B. Kenya C. Uganda D. Tanzania

Reading Assignment

Writing Case Studies

No 1 2 Group Name Group 1 2 Title
Why Somalilands recognition depends on the West Consent? The Political Economy of Kenya's Crisis

The Political Economy of Somaliland Resources: The Case of Berbera Cement Factory
The effects of long term Colonialism in Djibouti Root Causes of Post-Election Crisis in Somaliland

4 5

4 5

Group 6

Multi-Party Democracy and Privatized ExtraState Violence: The Case of Tanzania The effects of Aid / west Support on the local Economy: The Case of Ethiopia