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Summaries

  • The centuries-long trans-Atlantic slave trade brought terror to many and profit to some. One of the key states of the era was the Kingdom of Kongo, located in present-day Northern Angola, which eventually fell under Portuguese control.

  • The series' fifth hour examines the tremendous changes wrought in Africa by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, flowing out of the new era of European exploration in the New World that had begun in 1492 and reached a crucial point in the 16th century. For centuries, Eastern Africa, West Africa and Northern Africa had all been tied deeply into long-distance commercial networks linking across the Eastern Hemisphere. However, the European discovery of the Americas, and the passage of Portuguese seamen farther and farther south along Africa's Atlantic coast, reaching the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and then traveling around the Cape and all the way to India in 1497, transformed those relations. Across the continent empires would rise and fall, with some 12.5 million Africans suffering enslavement in the crosshairs. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. begins the story in northern Angola, where the mountain city of Mbanza Kongo was once the capital of the great African kingdom of Kongo. By the beginning of the 17th century Kongo was listed among the world's great kingdoms - a tale of increasing religious and economic entanglement with Europe that Gates recounts in the kingdom's ancient ruins.


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