The African tribes and their kings were known for their dependence on slavery and slave trading. When European’s arrived with goods, the enslaved brethren of the African tribes were offered in exchange.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
King Mussa’s Procession
“The first West African state of which there is any record was called Ghana. The people were farmers and traders and metal-smiths. Their capital city, Kumbi-Kumbi, was an important trading center during the Middle Ages. From the Arab countries came caravans of wheat and fruit and sugar and textiles and brass and salt. They went back loaded down with rubber and ivory and gold and another product the Africans were able to turn out better and in greater quantity than any other people. As a matter of fact, they had monopoly. We refer to Negro slaves.
The next Negro kingdom of any consequence was called Melle and comprised roughly what is now French West Africa. It was ruled during the first thirty years of the 14th century by a free-wheeling fellow by the name of Gonga-Mussa.
A good Moslem, King Mussa made a pilgrimage to Mecca in the year 1324. He travelled in style. There were 60,000 people in his party, including 12,000 slaves. Five hundred men [were] marching at the head of the procession bearing staffs of pure gold. To finance the trip, King Mussa took along eighty camels loaded down with gold valued at more than $5,000,000!
(My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night! W.E. Debnam, The Graphic Press, 1955, page 19)