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Example research essay topic: Nineteenth Century Slave Trade - 1,013 words

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Throughout history man has endeavored on a mission to conquer and gain additional wealth. Powerful kingdoms throughout time have explored the unfamiliar parts of the globe to seek out new markets, whereas it might be beneficial to their economy. One such trend began in the fifteenth century with global exploration. This quickly evolved into Imperialism in the sixteenth century and has continued even until today. One byproduct of global exploration and Imperialism was the large-scale slave trade. The principle of slavery has existed since the beginnings of civilization, yet during this period it became a global source of commerce.

The powers of Europe and the Middle East rushed into their respective acquisitions and took their inhabitants and put them to work all in the name of profit. One region that became the foreground for slavery was the continent of Africa. Literally, Africa became a battleground for countries competing in slave trade. Africa as a collection of peoples and a series of cultures collapsed under the external pressure that slavery brought to the region. Africa s own people would turn on themselves, taking sides to preserve their culture and gain supremacy over their enemies.

Such examples of this violence and chaos are shown through Marcia Wright s account of two specific slaves in the nineteenth century, Msatulwa Mwachiete and Chisi Ndjurisiye-Sichyajunga. Yet these two examples not only discuss the general topic of slavery, they detail something more specific. This detail encompasses how gender played a role in slavery. Although slavery as an institution was rigid and not considerably dynamic, their experiences differ slightly. In comparing the two figures, the similarities that surface include integration into slavery, the continuous movement between regions, and how they each adopted the Christian faith. In contrast though, Msatulwa and Chisi differ in how they were used as labor, strategies for survival, and their potential for marriage.

Thus, Marcia Wright s analysis of the two slave figures shows how men and women endured the hardships of slavery together, yet on slightly varying terms. One set of circumstances that Msatulwa and Chisi had in common was their initial integration into slavery. The basic premise of their abduction lies with the conflict between two warring tribes. Both examples speak of celebration and drinking prior to the attack which might suggest planning and reconnaissance on the part of the enemy. Msatulwa and Chisi are both very young members of their weaker tribes when they are abducted. A raid takes place in which possessions and livestock are taken, while everything that cannot be transported is burned.

The ruthlessness shown towards the adult males is common between the two historical accounts. Chisi speaks of [killing] all the men, not one escaped then they cut off their heads, put them in baskets and carried them off to show their chief. (Wright, 82) At the conclusion of the war the conquered tribe would be paraded out of the village and the journey back to the homeland of the victor would begin. Fortunately, due to the relative youth of Msatulwa and Chisi, they were spared, later to be integrated into their new tribe. Thus, we can see that slavery and its numerous features were shared among the different cultures of Africa, adding to the internal tension that the continent experienced during the nineteenth century.

Upon being integrated into slavery, both Msatulwa and Chisi were subject to the continuous movement that was to be brought about by their captors. Their reasons for moving vary slightly, yet slavery was still the driving force behind their separate migrations. Msatulwa became known as a migrate which meant that he was a personal slave of the chief and was forced to serve him in any region. Msatulwa moved to Muenisungu with his migrate status to be the servant of his chief s mistress. In addition, he is granted temporary leave and travels with a caravan to pick out clothes. Msatulwa experiences a hint of freedom as a slave, which was a rare feeling among people that were taken into slavery.

Chisi s forced move deals with the customs of her captor s tribe. Her son has intercourse with the wife of one of the tribe s men. The mere rumor of such an offense and the fact that Chisi has no means of compensation for her sons supposed actions force her to leave. (I was afraid the Zambia people would kill me for I was poor and had nothing to give to atone for this crime. Wright, 87) These two cases show how slaves were subjected to the circumstances that were beyond their control. Truly, a slave had to conform to the unfamiliar ideals and customs of the tribe who had possession of them.

This feature of slavery was a common threat that both males and females of Africa had to endure during their struggle. An additional characteristic that the slave trade brought was the conversion to Christianity of so many slaves. Upon the regulation of trading by Europeans, Africa experienced an influx of missionary projects during the nineteenth century. Pressure from the church and a developing morality trend among European societies served as a catalyst that curved heavy trading, while inducing these large-scale conversions. Both Msatulwa and Chisi discuss their passage into Christianity with their baptismal experience. Msatulwa incorporates learning and becoming literate with his transition into the Christian faith.

Missionaries again are influential in his decision saying, I should like to learn the word of God and go to school. (Wright, 78) In the same way, Chisi connects school with Christianity in that she acquires faith while also being taught. Figuratively, she asks for baptism because [she] wants Jesus to give her a new heart. (Wright, 90) Msatulwa and Chisi both make transitions. They both desire something more, a kind of renewal and cleansing in light of all they have been through. Thus, the influx of European missionaries in the nineteenth century is emotionally beneficial for the two because they re provided with a new mental structure that they can grow from, while recovering from the tragic memory of their enslavement.

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Research essay sample on Nineteenth Century Slave Trade

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