Manilla: Money of the slave trade

22 Mar 2018  Thu

Manillas, a form of money circulated in West Africa, it was made from the bronze or copper metal. This currency circulated in Africa, since the 14th century. Copper was the ‘red gold’ of Africa and has been mined and traded across the Sahara by the Italian and Arab Merchants.

In 1470, when Portuguese explorers came across these copper bracelets and leg bands as the principal money all along the West African coast, they gave the contract to the manufactures and produced the crescent rings with flare ends of wearable size rings called Manilla after the Latin “manus” or form “monilia” meaning a necklace.

This bracelet shaped money was used by Europeans to trade with West Africa from the 16th century to the 1930s. Later on, this currency was known as "Slave Trade Money" after the Europeans started using them to acquire slaves for the slave trade in America.

Manilla came in different types, varying according to the value and areas where they were circulated. According to a report of Nigeria in the 1800s, there were five types of Manilla in use, they were Anthony, Congo Simgolo, Onadoo, Finneman fawfinna and Cutta Anthony. The above-shown image depicts the Okpoho or Okapogho manila used in the Calabar Kingdom and also known as Onadoo. The weight of this bracelet money is 71 to 80g.

This bracelets currency was replaced with the western currency by the end of the 19th century. Later on, when the palm oil production boomed this currency was used to exchange oil rather than slaves.

Image Courtesy: Ebay.Co.UK

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