Year 8

The impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on West African society

I can explain how the Transatlantic Slave Trade impacted West African rulers and local people.

Year 8

The impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on West African society

I can explain how the Transatlantic Slave Trade impacted West African rulers and local people.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. West African kingdoms were rich in culture and wealth due to trade across the Sahel.
  2. African Kingdoms traded in people who were enslaved due to war.
  3. The arrival of Europeans meant an increase in wars in West Africa leading to more people being enslaved.
  4. Many West African kingdoms became reliant on trade with the Europeans which destabilised the African kingdoms.
  5. The Transatlantic trade exacerbated the trade in weapons and people leading to collapse of many kingdoms.

Common misconception

All kingdoms in West Africa saw the same changes as a result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Some kingdoms were weaker as a result of wars between kingdoms, others were weakened because of alliances and others continued to thrive.


  • Prisoners of war - prisoners of war are people captured by the opposing side during a war

  • Indentured labour - indentured labour is a system where someone is made to work without pay for a set period of time

  • Chattel slavery - chattel slavery is when people become legal property and cannot be freed without the permission of their slave holder

  • Enslaved people - enslaved people are people who have been forced to work without pay, lose their freedom and become the property of another person

  • Society - a society is a large group of people who live within the same area and usually share similar cultures and beliefs

When explaining the impact on the rulers in West Africa, Benin can be emphasised as a single (but significant) example of successful resistance to the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the 1600s.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains depictions of discriminatory behaviour.
  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

The first European merchants to arrive in West Africa were from which of the following countries?
Correct answer: Portugal
What was the name of the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean that took enslaved people took to the Americas?
Correct Answer: The Middle Passage, Middle Passage, middle passage, the Middle Passage, the middle passage
Which religion had spread to West Africa and converted many local rulers by the 1400s?
Correct answer: Islam
Which European nations initially became wealthy from using enslaved people from West Africa on their plantations in the Americas in the 1500s?
Correct answer: Spain
Correct answer: Portugal
Which of the following countries played a significant role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade by transporting half of the enslaved people from West Africa to the Americas by 1700?
Correct answer: Britain
What happened to the power of West African kingdoms due to the arrival of European merchants?
Correct answer: most lost power to the European merchants, but some were able to thrive
all kingdoms collapsed as result of the growing power of European merchants
all kingdoms continued to thrive, as most formed alliances
most continued to thrive, although some began weaker

6 Questions

What was the main item that attracted Muslim traders to West Africa before the arrival of the Portuguese?
Correct answer: gold
How long did the Middle Passage journey typically last for enslaved people?
2 weeks
6 weeks
Correct answer: 12 weeks
What change occurred in the lives of local African people when the Portuguese started building colonies in the Americas?
they gained more social status
they were treated as indentured labourers
they were no longer taken as prisoners of war
Correct answer: they were forced into chattel slavery
Which kingdom suffered significant power loss due to Portuguese arrival and internal issues?
Correct answer: Songhay
What impact did the expansion of the Transatlantic Slave Trade have on the social groups targeted for enslavement by the 1700s?
Only prisoners of war were enslaved
Wealthier groups were protected from enslavement
Only people of low social status were enslaved
Correct answer: More diverse groups, including the wealthy, faced the risk of enslavement
Which of the following was a consequence of increased conflict between African kingdoms due to the expanding slave trade?
Strengthened alliances between African kingdoms
Weakened the power of European merchants
Correct answer: Strengthened the power of European merchants
Correct answer: Weakened the power of local rulers

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