The people of Africa had a rich history and culture long before the arrival European slavers. They had a variety of political arrangements which included city-states, kingdoms, and even great empires, each with their own language and culture. For example, the empire of Songhay and the kingdoms of Mali, Benin, and Kongo were large and powerful monarchs which were headed with complex political structures that were capable of governing hundreds of thousands of people. The small bands, villages, and clans did also exist in Africa, but that was not to show that Africans were uncivilized, barbaric people. The Africans of those political structures chose a way organization that was best suited for them. For example, bands were useful because people had to travel to adapt the enviroment of Africa.
Art, learning, and technology flourished in Africa. Africans were skilled in subjects such as medicine, mathematics, and evev astronomy. As well as domestic goods, they made luxury items in ivory, gold, bronze, and terracotta for both local use and trade. Africans did not just limit themselves to the fine arts, but spent a lot of their time in developing strategic warfare and improving their political structures.
As exploration and colonization began to be the major focus in the the the century, Africa became the major pinpoint. The Portugese were the first to arrive in Africa in 1441, but Africans had been trading with the Muslims long before any Europeans reached the continent. From the outset, the relations between Europe and Africa were economic. They exchanged items like brass and copper jewelry for products such as spices, cloths, beads, and slaves - all part of an existing internal African trade. Domestic slavery was common in Africa and well before the arrival of the Eupopeans, there was trading of humans. Slavery in Africa was a lot different than the European slavery. Slavery was not an idea of racism, but a way to meet economic means. African did know that something that they saw as pure economics would turn into pure horror and oppression.