Deliverance and Healing from the Consequences of Slave-Trading; Acknowledgement and Seeking of Forgiveness - First Steps to Healing.

Flora Trebi-Ollennu
12 min readApr 1, 2024

You may be familiar with the story of Joseph and his brothers in the Genesis account and how they sold him into slavery in an attempt to kill his audacious dreams. Joseph was the unsuspecting, naive, and ‘weak’ younger brother. There was a demand for slaves in Egypt, a booming empire with ambitious building projects that needed labour. The whole world was flocking there. Killing him would be of no gain to us, they advised themselves while Reuben was absent. Let’s sell him, they decided, we would make some money, and they did. It broke their father’s heart. But what was that to them. Afterall, there were eleven of them remaining. They thought it was great then: they got rid of Joseph and his dreams and in addition made some money. Does this story sound eerily similar to what happened to Africans sold into slavery to Arabs and Europeans?

The Arab Slave trade and the Transatlantic Slave Trade were fed and bred by the large supply of slaves from various ethnic wars in Africa. We will deal with the sheer wickedness of slavery in both the Arab and Western World in the next prayer topic. It is important to note that many captives were sold by African slave traders as slaves to Arab and European traders who shipped these human beings to Arab and Asian territories, and the Americas. War mongers and aggressors on the African continent took many people of various tribes and even in their own tribes against their will and sold them as war booty, also included were criminals, and those kidnapped. The strongest ethnic groups reaped double benefits, war booty, sold further for money!

Someone might interject, but wasn’t this the order of the day in centuries past in all cultures? Why should ours be of any special interest? It may seem that even God endorsed slavery in the Old Testament, looking at some of Moses’ legislation. However, Moses’ permission, under certain circumstances to accommodate slavery could not mean, nor did it ever mean, that God approved of slavery, except in the very limited context of its being, under some conditions, the lesser of two evils ( due to the “hardness of the human heart.” The same is true of polygamy and divorce. Acts 17:30–31 confirms God’s attitude to these types of injustices in the past: “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” Therefore, such injustices must never be viewed as something God approved, because from the beginning it was not so. Moses’ law was only a shadow. Jesus brought a fuller and complete understanding and interpretation to Moses’ laws, summarized in Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Every sin, both big and small, sins of all shades and degrees are of interest to God, the reason he sent his Son, Christ Jesus to die for our sins. The Bible categorically states in Exodus 21:16 that “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.”

If slavery breaks God’s heart, are there consequences for communities that engage in them? Did Joseph’s brothers receive any punishment for their mean treatment? Joseph’s brothers’ sin of selling their own seemed to have harvested no consequences for a long time. Yes, sometimes the consequences of a community’s evil actions delay so long, they even call that evil, ‘good riddance.’ But God eventually calls out a community’s evil actions, no matter how long it takes. And when God acts at long last, it is to impress on the community, the magnitude of their wickedness so it can lead to genuine repentance. Was it by chance that famine hit Canaan, and Joseph’s brothers had to travel to Egypt to secure grain for their family so they might not die? See how their sin of selling Joseph confronted them when things came to a head in Egypt with various accusations from Prime Minster Joseph, even though Joseph meant well.

Is the famine of good leadership, good economy, and good standing in the global family for Africa and the African diaspora, God’s way of calling Africans (at least the Elect) to confront their slave-trading past? Is it time for African communities on the continent to seek God’ s face for the slave-trading atrocities committed by their ancestors?

Pray that Every African Community on the Continent will acknowledge this evil committed by our ancestors.
The state of the conscience of the African on the continent is well captured by Thiong’o: “It is well known that both a person who perpetrates trauma and one who experiences it can often shut the trauma in a psychic tomb, acting as if it never happened. The recipient does not mourn the loss and the perpetrator does not acknowledge the crime, for you cannot mourn a loss or acknowledge a crime you deny. This can occur at a community level, where horror committed to a group is kept in a collective psychic tomb, its reception and perpetration, passed on in silence, which of course means that there is no real closure and the wound festers inside to haunt the future.” (Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Something Torn and New, 2009)

Pray and confess the sins of our ancestors who undertook and perpetrated slavery on the continent for about 800 years. As Phil Aud pointed out, when “we repent for the sins of our ancestors we are being faithful to a biblical practice.” Lots of Africans are not aware of this history and those who are aware brush it away as something that has no bearing on their present circumstances. Pray that an awakening will sweep across African communities through both formal and informal education avenues, so there will be a greater understanding of the atrocities that took place to generate convictions, confessions, and repentance in the larger population.

As Rayshawn Graves pointed out in his article GUILTY FOR YOUR ANCESTORS’ SINS, “Specific moral culpability, guilt, and shame for (in this instance slave-trading) will not be experienced or borne by all individuals or groups (on the African continent) in the same way, but acknowledgment, repudiation, and lament for the sin and iniquity of .. by those who identify with it, is necessary for true progress, healing, and redemption.” His advice: “Pray that people would see that the reality of forgiveness for sin is greater than the culpability and corrosion of sin. Pray that we would see our connection to those around us, those who came before us, and those who will come after us.” And indeed, on the African continent there is much ground to be covered learning about each others’ tribes.

Pray that as communities, not just our kings, chiefs, and traditional leaders, we will own, that is acknowledge, the past atrocities of our ancestors and be truly sorry. Pray that we will mourn the loss of so many precious lives of our kith and kin. ‘My Great-Grandfather, the Nigerian Slave-Trader,’ is a true story by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (2018, New Yorker). In the story, Nwabani narrates how her family took steps to confront the past sins of slave-trading by their ancestor. “Still, it felt important for my family to publicly denounce its role in the slave trade. ‘Our family is taking responsibility,’ my cousin Chidi, who joined from London, told me. Chioma, who took part in Atlanta, said, “We were trying to make peace and atone for what our ancestors did… ‘This sort of thing opens up the mercy of God,’ my mother, Patricia, said. ‘People did all these evil things but they don’t talk about it. The more people confess and renounce their evil past, the more cleansing will come to the land.”

Here is a vignette from the book, By Foot to Salaga, a true account by Reverend Theophilus Opoku, a Presbyterian minister in Ghana (then Gold Coast), from his diary,1877, (even when the slave trade had been abolished: can you imagine when it was in full bloom), to help us all acknowledge the wickedness of the slave trading by our ancestors on the African continent. You would glean from the readings below that not only kings, chiefs, and major merchants were involved in slave-trading but ordinary citizens. It was common as in ancient Rome. And Rome fell under this weight!

Slave Market at Kete
“When I came to Kete, I was saluted with many cries as by several voices: ‘Come, buy a fine young woman, a fine lad, a fine girl etc., thinking that I came there to buy slaves. I told them, I came not to buy slaves, and reproved them much, telling them that it is a great sin against God, that a human being is sold and such people who engage in the wicked traffic will once be punished by God.’ ‘O no, no, that is not the case,’ interrupted one: God himself ordered such practices; and it is sure enough that people who possess slaves have the sure sign that they are approved of God. If one buys many slaves some will run away, but the master is nevertheless fortunate; for then he will find them in the other world and enjoy their services; or so says Mahommet.’ ‘Well, then I think you very likely wish me to become happy in buying your slaves, isn’t it?’ ‘O yes, very much so indeed,’ he replied. ‘Well, I observe by this that you desire for my welfare and interest, because you wish me to become happy and fortunate by your slaves. Now, suppose I am to buy your little children like those you have brought into the market for sale, from another slave-dealer like yourself, who desired for my interest and welfare as you do, you will, without any doubt be cheerful that you have parted with your children by force, because the one wished to make me happy, by selling to me your children?’ This question, he hardly could answer, but only said, ‘You mean that I must have compassion on these children? Well, if you do pity these young ones and do not like them, I got old ones for you, whom you will not have to pity.’ As I observed that this cruel man seemed not convinced, but rather rejoiced in his wicked traffic, I turned out from him.

A Woman Slave-Trader at Kete
“I visited another house also, where I saw a woman grinding. When she saw me, she instantly offered a little girl of about 4–5 years of age to buy. I asked her where the child was, (as I did not see her before). The girl was sitting near her at the mill, whom I had taken for her own daughter. She (the woman) directly ordered her to arise and come to me … The mistress was looking at me, when I asked her: Is this conduct of this little harmless girl not moving to you.. Why don’t you take compassion on her and adopt her for your own daughter and God will bless you for it? … But [she] only expressed to me in a tone which intimated nothing but anger: ‘Why shall I take her for a daughter? She is not my daughter; she was not born by me; I bought her from her own mother!’ Nothing convinced me that this last word of the woman was true, as I learnt from good authority that most of these wretched slaves were only kidnaped[sic], if not taken in war as prisoners. It was indeed a painful feeling and a heavy heart for both the little girl and myself, that I was putting her down and bidding my farewell (adieu) to them.”

As Daniel confessed on behalf of his rebellious ancestors we pray “We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. All Israel (Africa) has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you… Therefore, the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to (Africans) Jerusalem… Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem (Africa) and your people an object of scorn to all those around us… Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city (continent) and your people bear your Name (image).” Danile 9:8,11–14, 16b, 19.

Lord, we confess as Isaiah did, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.” Isaiah 6:5.

We pray as Nehemiah did, “Our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways. “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.” Nehemiah 9:34–37

Lord we agree to your Word in Leviticus 26:40–42: “But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors — their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies — then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.” So, we confess the sins of our ancestors for all slave trading undertaken by various tribes and merchants in Africa.

Pray about the Voodoo underpinnings and tentacles of the slave trade — here is another excerpt from Nwaubani’s true story about his great grandfather, a prominent slave-trader. “Nwaubani Ogogo was believed to have acquired spiritual powers from the shrine of a deity named Njoku, which allowed him to wield influence over white colonists. Among his possessions, which are passed down to the head of the family, was the symbol of his alliance with Njoku: a pot containing a human head. “You had to cut the head straight into the pot while the person was still alive, without it touching the floor,” my father said. “It couldn’t just be anybody’s head. It had to be someone you knew.” In Nwaubani Ogogo’s case, this someone was most likely a slave. When Gilbert, my great-uncle and a previous head of our family, died in 1989, his second wife, Nnenna, a devout Christian, destroyed the pot. Shortly afterward, her children began to die mysterious deaths, one after another. Nnenna contracted a strange ailment and died in 2009. Some relatives began to fear that dark forces had been unleashed.”

Nwaubani, the great slave-trader’s actions were typical of the time and even now in many political parties and circles. Securing influence and power in society is transacted with the gods and the occult.

Pray and confess the wicked voodoo rites and sacrifices of innocent slaves and some, to secure supernatural powers for slave-traders.

In Jeremiah 9:13–14, “The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.”

Nullify the works of the occult transacted during the slave trade appropriating Colossians. 2:14–15: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Pray and release faith into families with direct slave-trading history to step into the blessing of the Cross. Galatians 3:13–14 states: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Something to think about: “The undeniable truth that we must come to terms with is that the trauma that we humans inflict on one another gets lodged in the body and is passed down to subsequent generations.” (PHIL AUD in “Generational Curses” & Confession for the Sins of Our Ancestors.)

God richly bless you as you endeavour to intercede for everyone of African descent to be set free to fully live for Christ Jesus, our only Lord and Savior, so we can fulfill our assignment as a people God has planned to use in His Last Days Agenda.

Beyond the Decade Vision is led and implemented by Beyond the Decade Coalition. To learn more about the Coalition, its members, and its mandate, visit



Flora Trebi-Ollennu

Flora Trebi-Ollennu is both a nonfiction and fiction writer. She writes for all age groups: children, youth and adults.