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Oral tradition and slave trade in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin 

The data collected in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin by Dr. Alaba Simpson make it possible to better know the conditions of the first contact between Europeans and the societies and inform us on how the slaves were captured, treated and sold. 

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Within the framework of the "Slave Route" project, UNESCO has undertaken a large compilation of oral traditions, memorable testimonies of this tragedy. This living memory engraves in the life of families and communities constitute a priceless intangible cultural heritage that is becoming more fragile as generations are replaced by new ones. It must be saved at all cost.

After the publication of works entitled "Tradition orale et archives de la traite négrière" in 2001, " Les sources orales en Guinée et en Sénégambie " and " Tradition orale liée à la traite négrière et à l'esclavage en Afrique centrale " in 2003, UNESCO continues the collection and the diffusion of data of the oral tradition relating to the Slave Trade. This time, it places at the disposal of the researchers but also of the international community and general public information, which was collected in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin by Dr. Alaba Simpson of the University of Lagos.

The data collected make it possible to better know the conditions of the first contact between Europeans and the societies and inform us on how the slaves were captured, treated and sold. Certain testimonies reveal with many details the role of the intermediaries and local trade partners of the Slave Trade and slavery in these countries.

The heritage in the houses of ancient slaves confirms this information, which was transmitted from generation to generation and mostly orally. In the Dahomey, current Benin, accounts made it possible to archaeologists to locate and discover remains of slaves thrown in a common grave along the slave route.


This study is initially a historical research of which one of the objectives is to help to determine the present, in particular antagonisms and the conflict relations between ethnic groups and lineages, which, in these countries, are for certain the consequence of the slave trade and slavery. But it is also and especially, essential factors of work of remembrance, which must take place so that the memory of this tragedy should not be forgotten, and that new form, mostly insidious of slavery, never reappear.

Contact: Christian N'Dombi



Author(s) Dr. Alaba Simpson
Book Type Book
Editor(s) Workshops of UNESCO
Publication Date 02 Jul 2004
Publisher UNESCO
Publication Location Paris
Number of Pages 45 pages
Buy this book at Secretariat of the Slave Route Project
Published languages French/English
Original language French/English
Translated by CLD
ISSN No
Hardcopy Availability .

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