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Trans-Saharan Trade Route, A Factor.

When Africans Shun the Positivity of a Slave Trade: an Examination of the Kanem-Borno Empire during the Reign of Idris Aloma

Slave trade aptly is the art of trading in humans as in commodity. Many slave trades have occurred in the African continent, both internally, and with the outside world. The most popular ones among the slave trades were the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave trade, all ending by the late nineteenth century. West African states particularly lost millions of humans to countries of North Africa during the trans-Saharan slave trade and European countries during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Notably, the slave trades have been the major lens for pan-African historians to examine the underdevelopment of the African continent.

The slave trades are often asserted to have been the cause of West African underdevelopment as shattered any form of economic growth, caused political instability, disintegrated the socio-cultural setting of West African states, others. In fact, the slave trades entirely (whether the trans-Saharan or trans-Atlantic slave trades) really affected the growth of West African states, as often stressed by West African scholars.

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However, the negative impacts of the slave trades are often exaggerated by these scholars. In fact, an examination of various slave trades in the African continent without its positivity will render such work incomplete, because the development of various states in West Africa was factored by these slave trades.

Kanem-Borno empire, an empire among the Chadic states in the lake chad region, rose to fame with its prosperity amounted from the trans-Saharan trade routes particularly. Mai Idris Aloma who ruled Kanem-Borno from 1570s to 1603 is a quintessential sample of a leader who made use of the trade over the Sahara to build his empire. During his reign, Aloma exported slaves to North Africa in return for horses and firearms from states like Tunis, Egypt, and others. In fact, the prosperity of the Kanem-Borno Empire during the trans-Saharan trade made it the dominant state of the Chadic state most especially around the sixteenth to the seventeenth century.

Some of the conquered groups under the Kanem-Borno empire also jostled for participation in the trade over the Sahara. The Bulala, the Tuaregs, the So, and the Za, were warring groups who wanted active participation in the trans-Saharan economy, but they were suppressed by the Superior Seifawa dynasty. The maintenance of the central authority by the Seifawa dynasty hugely was determined by the maintenance of its prospered position in the trans-Saharan trade routes.

Scholars from as far as Tripoli and Tunisia entered Borno. Literacy and oriental architectural designs were developed all over the empire. In fact, the reign of Idris Aloma was perhaps the best of history in the history of the Kanem-Borno Empire. The state was consolidated and was expanded. Mai Idris Aloma was said to be a gallant warrior, and good economist, who combined all resources available to further the course of developing his states.

Therefore, it would parochial and baseless to see the trans-Saharan trade, and other slave trades as a total factor responsible for the underdevelopment of West African nations because the majority of West African empires’ leaders were intentionally involved in the trade both the oddity and the god dealings of the trade, As evidenced by the raise of Kanem-Borno empire during the reign of Idris Aloma.

Citation: Faforiji Tadese. When Africans Shun the Positivity of a Slave Trade: an Examination of the Kanem-Borno Empire during the Reign of Idris Aloma. (July 29, 2021)Tadexprof. Nigerian History (Archived). Retrieved at


  1. Trans-Saharan Trade Routes. Wikipedia.
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  3. Trans-Saharan Trade Routes: The Routes of African..… Cambridge.

Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.