Foremostly, Evangelical movements in Protestant Europe in the 18th century led to open advocacy against the Atlantic slave trade and the institution of slavery. It is crucial to emphasize, however, that the abolition of the slave trade occurred outside of Africa.
Denmark was the first to abolish the slave trade in 1803, followed by the U.S which passed an act during the American revolution. The act prohibited the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States. The act became effective on January 1, 1808.
By 1807 Great Britain also banned the African slave trade. However, the African slave trade continued in other territories of Britain until the 1860s, like Brazil and Cuba. Consequently, other Europeans followed suit. For example, Switzerland abolished the slave trade in 1813, the Netherlands in 1814, and France (for the second time) in 1818.
But these laws did not stop the export of slaves from Africa. There were lawless individual traders who felt that the profits to be gained from running slaves across the Atlantic more than outweighed the risk of arrest.
It is important to note that the British however agitated for the abolishment of the slave trade due to economic gains. The underlying reason for this was that Britain, more than any other European nation, had considerable amounts of capital, experience, and goodwill accumulated in trade with Africa. They saw that as long as their European or American rivals continued to buy slaves; African kings and merchants were generally not willing to organize alternative export.
Many African governments and merchants were not happy with the British or American government’s sanction to observe the anti-slave-trade treaties wished upon them. They saw no reason why their economic interests should be subordinated to the new economic interests of British traders. So, they continued the slave trade with Portugal and France. This thus affected the British economic interest. It forced the British to interfere in African affairs, the resulting factor became the colonization of Africa.
Colonization and Slave trade
Britain maintained a significant naval presence in western Africa. They also developed new political, commercial, and missionary presences in order to prohibit the export of slaves from western Africa; thus defending the interests of British businessmen wishing to trade in other goods. Furthermore, these led to increasing interference in the domestic affairs of African societies and their governments.
Sierra Leone was the primary centre for British naval, political, and missionary efforts on the western African coast for the greater part of the 19th century. British identified the Sierra Leone peninsula as a good location for the repatriation of Africans. Britain Freed slaves and Africans who fought on the British side in the American Revolution were left to occupy the Sierra leone.
But Freetown was not the only British settlement on the western African coast. The British settlement encompassed the mouth of Gambia, Gold Coast, and some parts of the Niger Delta of present-day Nigeria.
In 1885 European leaders met at the infamous Berlin Conference to divide Africa and arbitrarily draw up borders that exist to this day. By 1914, the division allowed seven European powers to colonize 90% of the continent; leaving only Liberia and Ethiopia as independent nations.
Slavery during this time took another turn. It went from being a traditional slave trade to advanced forced slavery perpetrated on African soil.
By the late 1950s, African countries started agitating for their independence. Ghana was the first African country to become independent from its colonial masters in 1957.