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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Between the Sea and the Lagoons: The Interaction of Maritime and Inland Navigation on the Precolonial Slave Coast
Author:Law, Robin R.
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:West Africa
Subjects:economic history
inland water transport
maritime transport
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:The section of the West African coast known to Europeans as the 'Slave Coast', extending from the River Volta (Ghana) to Lagos (Nigeria), unlike the Gold Coast to the west, was not noted in the precolonial period for indigenous maritime enterprise. For this part of West Africa, the conventional image of a land cut off from the sea, until the arrival of the Europeans in the late 15th century, has much validity. However, the operation of European trade in the region was critically dependent upon African navigational expertise. Indigenous canoemen operating along the coastal lagoons played a crucial role in delivering cargoes to the points of shipment, while immigrant seagoing canoemen from the Gold Coast carried goods and personnel between the shore and the European ships standing off it. This article focuses on the interaction between maritime (merely European) and lagoon-borne (predominantly African) enterprises. It also pays attention to the precolonial seaside economy, notably the role of fish and salt, and to the development of an African coasting trade, in competition with the Europeans. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.