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Britain’s bloody past unearthed

A new archaeological discovery serves as a reminder of the British Empire's brutal hand in the Transatlantic slave trade
Issue 2866
slavery Ghana Britain empire

The coast of Ghana

Archaeologists announced this week that they had uncovered the first English slave fort in Africa, Fort Kormantine, on Ghana’s coastline. It’s a grim reminder of the foul role played by the English ruling class at the birth of capitalism. 

Slave raiders snatched people from across West Africa and held them in the fort before transporting them to the Caribbean.  These slaves, given the name Coromantee, were known for fierce rebellions against their enslavement. Fort Kormantine dates back to 1631. It was a trading post for gold and other materials to buy slaves before becoming a slave port in 1663.

That’s when King Charles II granted a charter to the Company of Royal Adventures of England Trading into Africa, later the Royal African Company, and gave it a monopoly over the trade of people.

Britain forcibly transported 3.1 million Africans across the Atlantic between 1640 and 1808, with at least half a million dying on the journey. The Dutch later took over the fort. But Britain’s first slave port is a reminder of its legacy.

Britain was built on the back of its hideous slave trading practices, and that impact is still felt today. No attempt at prettifying its role in empire can hide the truth.

There’s nothing glorious about Britain’s imperialist history. And all those who suffered at its hands and resisted its rule are the real heroes of the era.

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