Slaves did suffer a number of disabilities. The first was the
possibility of being sacrificed in accordance with traditional customs
and religious beliefs. The second was that his/her status as a slave
was never entirely forgotten no matter how high he/she rose on the
social scale and no matter the level of integration or assimilation.
Among the Aboh of Nigeria, although slaves were incorporated into the
kinship structure, there was no question of equality between the slave
and the free. In the Kongo state a slave's living conditions and
economic role did not differ sharply from that of a free person, but
when it came to sacrifice or the payment of a debt, it was the slave
who was handed over.
The third disability had to do with physical appearance. The slave was
supposed to dress simply. The Akan of Ghana say Odonko nsiesie ne ho
ti se ne wura ( The slave does not dress like his/her owner). The
fourth disability was linked to behaviour. The slave was supposed to be
unassuming and was not supposed to mix freely with free men and women.
Five, slaves performed very much the same tasks as other free men and
women, but they were required to work harder. Hence the Akan saying Odonko adwuma (Slave work). Six, a slave was not supposed to take
any decision of his/her own, or to embark on any enterprise without
permission or instruction from his/her owner. Finally, slaves were
Dr. Akosua Perbi - Manchester College - USA [full