Gates says that everybody is familiar with the role played in slavery by the United States and the colonial powers of Britain, France, Holland, Portugal, and Spain. But he adds that there has been “little discussion of the role Africans themselves played….”
Gates argues that the role Africans played was “considerable” and included the very kingdoms in western and central Africa that are praised as examples of Africa’s historical greatness every February during “Black History Month” celebrations.
How did this African involvement in the slave trade work?
Gates references the historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University — who estimate that 90 percent of the slaves shipped to the New World were captured and enslaved by Africans before being sold to European traders and commercial agents.
In essence, the slave trade would have been impossible on the scale it occurred without African business partners.