Review from ROAPE Volume 3 Number 5
L'esclavage en Afrique precoloniale (Meillassoux)
The attitude of foreign scholars to African slavery has varied over the years. The nineteenth century used it to justify imperial expansion. Twentieth century colonialists often ignored its continued existence, in part because of their own involvement in developing new forms of social control. Twentieth century liberal scholarship has preferred to minimize the exploitation present in Africa as in all human societies. Marxists, even more than liberals, have seen Africans as victims caught up in the dialectical processes of European society. Only in the last decade has there been a serious effort to examine pre-capitalist economic formations and the dynamics of change within African society. Even here, there is a tendency to minimize African slavery. In most societies the labour done by the slave was not strikingly different from that done by the free commoner. There did not seem to be a slave mode of production.