A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural by Maurice Bessy

By Maurice Bessy

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At the same time, the slave trade escalated dramatically along the coast of modern southwest Nigeria, marking a significant change from previous patterns of slave export in the area. In the eighteenth century, slaving among the Yoruba had been limited, owing largely to the fact that Oyo acquired most of its captives from further north, and slave exports had come from the areas adjacent to Yoruba country, notably the Niger delta to the east, and Dahomey and Asante to the west. But the jihad and the resulting Sokoto caliphate closed off supplies of slaves from the north, while the collapse of Oyo led to rather more systematic slave-gathering among the Yoruba themselves: war was a lucrative business.

Missionaries had already introduced a degree of British culture into coastal society, and collected souls from among the displaced and defenseless; they helped shape official attitudes toward particular groups across the region, and lobbied for intervention. In the early 1890s, the British government answered the call, and local rivalries would now be played out in the context of the colonial experiment. Missionary propaganda, moreover, targeted Dahomey as the source of much evil in the area. The beginning of the nineteenth century found Dahomey a dynamic and expansionist state, able at last to throw off its long-standing subordination to Oyo – a relationship dating to the early eighteenth century – and, as noted above, to launch incursions into Yoruba territory.

Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade 1730–1830 (Wisconsin, 1988). , Trade Without Rulers: Pre-Colonial Economic Development in South-Eastern Nigeria (Oxford, 1978). Oldfield, J. , Popular Politics and British Anti-Slavery: The Mobilization of Public Opinion Against the Slave Trade, 1783–1807 (Manchester, 1995). Smith, R. , Warfare and Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa (London, 1989). , Kingdoms of the Savannah (Madison WI, 1966). , Asante in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1975).

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