Religions (Jan 2023)

A Study in Evil: The Slave Trade in Africa

  • Abdulai Iddrisu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 1
p. 122


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In this special issue on justice, ethics, and philosophy of religion, let us consider a historical case study. The trade of slaves across the Atlantic lasted 400 years and led to the forcible removal of about 12.5 million people from Africa, south of the Sahara. This paper examines the African slave trade in light of the notion that evil of whatever form is a menace to our very existence and a rupture of the very essence of hope. It will focus on the nature, development, and growth of the African/European Slave Trade, as it interrogates issues such as: if evil is coterminous with human cruelty, then the slave trade was the apogee of human evil and avarice; the notion of slavers saving the enslaved from themselves; and providing an avenue for conversion into Abrahamic religions. The essay will also be interested in how slavers—European and Africans alike—rationalized slavery and how the enslaved and onlookers responded to the spectacle of enslavement.