Yoruba people in the Atlantic slave trade

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The Yoruba people, among the most heavily targeted, contributed significant cultural and economic influence upon the Atlantic slave trade during its run from approximately 1400 until 1900 CE.[1][2]

Oyo Empire[edit]

From 1400 onward, the Oyo Empire's imperial success made the Yoruba language a lingua franca almost to the shores of the Volta.[3] Toward the end of the 18th century, the Oyo army was neglected as there was less need to conquer.[4] Instead, Oyo directed more effort towards trading and acted as middlemen for both the Trans-Saharan and Trans-Atlantic slave trade.[4] Europeans bringing salt arrived in Oyo during the reign of King Obalokun.[5] Thanks to its domination of the coast, Oyo merchants were able to trade with Europeans at Porto Novo and Whydah.[6] Here the Oyo Empire's captives and criminals were sold to Dutch and Portuguese buyers.[7]

Cultural influence[edit]

In addition to the influence on slavery, and later Afro-American cuisine and language, the importation of Yoruba culture was most heavily evidenced in such manifestations of Yoruba religion as Santería, Candomblé Ketu, and other traditional spiritualities.


  1. ^ Pedro Funari; Charles E. Orser Jr. (2014). Current Perspectives on the Archaeology of African Slavery in Latin America (SpringerBriefs in Archaeology). Springer. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-493-9126-43. 
  2. ^ Toyin Falola; Ann Genova (2005). Yoruba Creativity: Fiction, Language, Life and Songs. Africa World Press. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-592-2133-68. 
  3. ^ Stride & Ifeka 1971, p. 302.
  4. ^ a b Oliver & Atmore 2001, p. 95.
  5. ^ Stride & Ifeka p. 292
  6. ^ Stride & Ifeka 1971, p. 293.
  7. ^ Smith 1989, p. 31.