Africa and the transatlantic slave trade

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Do you know what these objects are, and what the connection was between them?

Click on the images below to find out more

West African drum, 1898, The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester

See this object at The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester

This item may not always be on display, please check with the venue before visiting

This drum was collected in 1898 in Ilorin, Nigeria. It was given to Salford Museum and was described as ‘both rare and special and very difficult to get hold of'.

Drums were a very important part of musical traditions in Africa and continued to be used by enslaved Africans on plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas. They were used in music, dance and religious ceremonies as well as to send messages.

Enslaved Africans used drum beats to signal the start of revolts, including the revolution in Haiti which led to its independence. For this reason drums were banned in some Caribbean islands.

The drum is made with a piece of manufactured cotton fabric, probably made in Britain, and possibly in Manchester.

The fact that British goods became integral parts of African objects shows how complex the transatlantic slave trade was between Britain and west Africa.

Cotton goods produced in Manchester were in demand in west Africa during the 1700s and 1800s where they were traded for people through African middlemen.

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An interactive video drama on slavery and abolition

This Accursed Thing

African Slave Trader