Top 10 Most Influential African Tribes During the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Atlantic slave trade is the most unfortunate activity in human history. Not only did it displace many Africans from their homes, it also created a legacy of oppression for the descendants and generations to come.

Hand Carved Tribal Mask – Bakongo, Congo

10. Chamba people

The Chambas are an African ethnic group found in the Gongola State of east-central Nigeria and neighboring parts of north Cameroon. They speak two distantly related languages: Chamba Leko, of the Leko–Nimbari languages, and Chamba Daka, of the Dakoid languages, both of which are a Niger-Congo language.

They were victims of Fulanis Jihadi slavery in the 18th and 19ths century. Things went really bad for them that they migrated into the mountains to form Guerrilla groups attacking Fulani slave merchants.

9. Wolof people

They are found in Senegal and some parts of Mali. Their origin is widely debated. But mainstream knowledge has it that they originated from the north and later migrated down south. They found their own empire, but warring made them split and this made them vulnerable to slave hunters. Most wolofs are muslims. They had a violent Jihad past that further exposed them to slavery either as slave merchants or as victims.

8. Abron people

They inhabited the border of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Burkina Faso. They were at the center of popular gold coast. Many of them were taken slavery and were given a specific name in Jamaica called “Koromantis”.

7. Fulani people

Fulanis are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are nomadic in nature and present in East and West Africa. They can be found in Senegal and all the way to Central African Republic. Other places they inhabit includes, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Guinea and Cameroun. Their origin is highly debated, but their origin has been traced to North Africa. They were somehow the original people in North Africa due to their paintings in Nigeria which are dated to 6000BC North Africa. In fact, their history is rich and full.

The fulanis embraced Islam very early. They have many prominent Jihadis who swept across Africa. Example is Usman Danfodio. Ironically, as prominent as their shieks and Jihadis in slave trades, Fulanis were also victims of Slavery themselves. It was recorded that they were hugely enslaved. Some of the most popular slaves taken to new worlds are fulanis. Exampl, Umar Ibin-saeed, Abdulrahaman and Dialo. Most were taken to America specifically.

6. Mende people

Mende are collections of African tribes speaking the Language “Mende”. There are so many tribes in Africa speaking Mende, therefore, its illogical to call Mende a single tribe. But the prominent of all is Mendenka. Mendenka built one of the largest empire in West Africa. They raided the coast line of West Africa and mingled with Coast line people. Even some Fulanis have Mendenka ancestry. Origin of Mendenka is largely the Sahara. Archaeology discovered Mendenka to be first builder of stone settlement civilization in West Africa. Mende Cultture was the most dominant in West Africa from 1100bc to 1600BC.

5. Fon people

They are the largest ethnic group in Benin Republic. They are also found in South West Nigeria. They are hybrid of other African tribes. Oral history has it that they were formed from the intermarriage of Aijaa and Yorubas creating a new ethnic group called Fon. The Fon people created a very popular kingdom called Dahomey as they are well known for their female warriors. In fact Black Panthers movies was inspired by Dahomey Female warriors (Amazonian Warriors). They were victims and victimized during the slave trade. They are the most popular in Trinidad and Haiti. Due to their Yoruba ancestry, they are renowned for their black Juju practise in the Americas.

4. Bakongo People

Bakongo people are Bantu people living along the costal region of Central African Republic. They live primarily in the Democratice Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Angola. Similar to Mendenka, they built one of the Largest empire in Central Africa. They are one of the African tribes that converted to Christianity at the early stage of Slavery. They are also among the first to have had an encounter with Portuguese trade merchants. Most Bakongo slaves were taken to southern America.

3. Igbo People

Igbos are native to South Central and South Eastern part of Nigeria. Igbos are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Igbos were caught up in the slave trade as a result of the migration of Aro confederacy. The Aros migrated to Igbo land due to high demand for slaves. Aros hunt Igbos and sell them to the Europeans. Igbos sold to Europeans accounted for 13% of slaves harvested from Africa.

2. Yoruba People

They are African tribes of North Central and South Western Nigeria as well as Southern and Central Benin Republic.

Yorubas and Fulanis are the largest ethnic groups in Africa. It is hard to tell which is larger.

They were mainly sold in North/South America. Currently they are one of the most recognized African culture not just in America alone but in the UK and Caribbeans.
Yoruba’s are found not to lose their culture wherever they go. They created shrines and worship centers in Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican republic, st Lious, Brazil Trinidad and Tobago. Today the Yoruba culture is fast becoming a religion even among non-Yorubas in America. The Yoruba along Benin/Edo culture has been dated by Archaeology as one of the oldest civilization in Africa, dated as far back as 11bc Nimrod era.

1. Mbundu People

They are the main tribe in Angola today. There are multiple stories surrounding their origin, but the most popular of all is that of a rumour of people originating from multiple Chieftains across Africa. In short, they are hybrids of different tribes across Africa.

They were mostly taken to Brazil during the transatlantic slave trade.

They were the most popular and lucrative slave market for the Portuguese. Majority of Mbundu warlords were ship builders and architects. They built large ships used for transporting their own people to Brazil. That is why they are the largest black ethnic group in Brazil till date. Portuguese had it easy with them because it was cheaper transporting Mbundu slaves. Mbundu Chiefs built giant ships which really helped the Portuguese slaves Merchants.

This article was Written by Proxillin

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.


  1. Okay as a starting point for an understanding of the African chattel slave trade. However, the incomplete scope and ambitious title encourage my always suspicious inclination not to trust anything much. — The world is filled with Smart People striving to fulfill an agenda. For most, achieving this end justifies using any means. —

    Where was I? Oh yeah, after my digression, my gentle critique was at hand. For instance, the title set up a disappointment. The piece discusses, among other things, the West African chattel slave trade. My task requires facts and information on tribes/nations engaged in the East Africa chattel slave trade.

    I still want information about the still not yet extinguished East African slave trade. What nations sold/bought slaves, the systematic male castrations and emasculations and its effects on slave progeny and the population of Blacks and Mulattoes, etc. in East Africa and the Middle East.

    Anywho, a nice piece as far as it goes. I am

    Cordially yours,

    Kensington, Philadelphia, PA


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