Eurafricans in Western Africa - Commerce, Social Status, Gender and Religious Observance from the Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century

From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries Luso- Africans, the descendants of Portuguese traders and African women, exercised important roles in commerce along the riverine networks of the West African coast. They were influential in the development and dissemination of the Crioulo language, the diffusion of numerous fruits, food crops and domestic animals, and influenced many African social and religious practices. When Sephardic Jews, French, Dutch, and English traders arrived in western Africa, they and their Eurafrican offspring were constrained by African societies to accommodate to the same circumstances as Portuguese and Luso-Africans. During the latter part of the eighteenth century, Eurafricans' circumstances significantly changed in places where French and British colonial officials introduced European legal codes that enabled Eurafricans to acquire freehold property, bequeath dwellings, trading vessels, and other possessions to descendants, and exercise civic responsibilities.