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Untold: Britain's Slave Trade

Sun 3/10/99, Channel 4
Audience: not reported (less than 2.17m) BARB

Cape Coast Castle

This new series looks at a period of British history rarely exposed, the atlantic slave trade. Concentrating in this first programme on the Royal African Company set up by James II, and the trade based in Bristol, it told of the vast profits made by those who exploited the triangular trade route of Britain to the Gold Coast with cargo of copper and brass wares, across to the Carribean with slaves and back to Britain with the luxury items of sugar and tobacco. The africans sold into slavery were not kidnapped but were at first the prisoners of local wars. There had long been a tradition in this part of Africa of captives being held as slaves for a season before being returned to their homelands. However prompted by the greed of both the slavers and traders, arms were soon being sold to neighbouring nations to encourage conflict and thus keep up the steady supply of people for transportation. With as many as 12 million people sold in this way modern african scholars see this trade as being a prime reason for the poverty and lack of advancement of the region even today. Finally the trade grew so large that the small port of Bristol soon was overtaken by the larger port of Liverpool, the subject of the next programme. [Sound Clip] ****

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1999 Alan J. Stuart All rights reserved