Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 107 July 2020 - Page 127

Flashmag July 2020 www.flashmag.net



Arab traders provided the first written accounts of the Gambia area in the ninth and tenth centuries. During the tenth century, Muslim merchants and scholars established communities in several West African commercial centres. Both groups established trans-Saharan trade routes, leading to a large export trade of local people as slaves, along with gold and ivory, as well as imports of manufactured goods.

By the 11th or 12th century, the rulers of kingdoms such as Takrur (a monarchy centered on the Senegal River just to the north) ancient Ghana and Gao had converted to Islam and had appointed to their courts Muslims who were literate in the Arabic language. At the beginning of the 14th century, most of what is today called The Gambia was part of the Mali Empire. The Portuguese reached this area by sea in the mid-15th century and began to dominate overseas trade.

As many as three million people may have been taken as slaves from this general region during the three centuries that the transatlantic slave trade operated. It is not known how many people were taken as slaves by intertribal wars or Muslim traders before the transatlantic slave trade began. Many taken were sold by other Africans to Europeans. Some were prisoners of intertribal wars; some were victims sold because of unpaid debts, most were simply victims of kidnapping.

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