Okechukwu - Journey to the ship
I don't know how far we walked but it was a long way. My head hurt and I felt so sick. Then we came to a huge building. I had never seen anything like it before but all I could look at were the strange pale men with their metal sticks. I thought that maybe they were there to help us, but their violent ways and rough language soon told me different.
The walk across Africa.
A long way
People like Okechukwu, who had been taken into slavery, were made to walk to the coast. In some cases this walk lasted many months, during which time the captives may have been sold repeatedly from one trader to another. They were joined in pairs at the leg and neck, and were made to walk for eight hours a day covering about twenty miles.
At the coast the captives were met by a ship that transported them across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. However by this point many were so weak and ill that they could barely face the crossing.
Once at the coast the Africans were often forced into a fort or stockade to wait until a ship arrived to transport them. They often spent months in these places, suffering in dark, stinking, and overcrowded dungeons. There was little food, water, light or air and many died.
Many people, particularly those who did not live near the coast, may not have seen a white face before they were taken into slavery. However, they may have heard of the traders or seen their goods in the hands of African traders.
Strong, young men were the main targets of white slave traders. Some people estimate that around two thirds of all Africans taken into slavery were male. This had a great social and economic impact on those left behind, and women were often left to fill the gaps left by the missing men.