Ever since the late sixteenth century, much of the economic life of western-central Africa had been dominated by the European demand for captives for the transatlantic slave trade. Initially, European declarations of abolition applied only to the north Atlantic, which allowed the export of captives from Angola to Brazil to continue freely for most of the first half of the nineteenth century. But, as elsewhere in west Africa, even the ending of the transatlantic trade did not bring an end to slavery in the central African interior. Indeed, in some respects, internal slavery increased as captive labour was redirected to local production. This was partly to meet the need for more food to feed the growing population.
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