COWRIES, THE CURRENCY OF TRADING
Small shells, often called bujis or bouges in French archives (a deformation of the original Portuguese) and “whitish milk in colour [and] the size of an olive” (Prévost, 1748), were imported from the Maldives to the Gulf of Guinea via Europe within the framework of the transatlantic trade of enslaved African peoples. They were adopted as a form of currency as each one was identical in size and rot-proof. Therefore, it was possible to accumulate and transport them. Moreover, their rarity in West Africa made them precious objects.
THE WIC, THE DUTCH WEST INDIA COMPANY
The Westindische Compagnie (WIC) held the monopoly on trade and warfare in the Atlantic region between 1624 and 1674 and again between 1674 and 1738, while subsisting as a legal entity until 1791. Its main activity became the trade of enslaved people as the company accounted for a quarter of the total Dutch slave trade.
THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT (18TH-19TH CENTURIES)
It was not until the end of the 18th century that the first abolitionist societies were established in Europe, whose members, intellectuals of the Enlightenment or evangelical Christians, aimed at putting an end to the slave trade. They sought to change the law, by organizing petition campaigns. In a second phase, new abolitionist societies, in the years 1820-1830, tackled the problem of slavery. Their members were shocked by the daily violence suffered by men, women and children on the cotton plantations.