The experience of the trans-Atlantic slave trade took the enslaved away from their roots. There was an effort by the slave owners to remove the identity of the slaves. The Africans were captured in West Africa and forced to board ships, stripped naked with no belongings from their previous life. All they had of their lives prior to slavery had become a memory. Confined in their minds were their customs, beliefs, songs, stories and language. It was from these intangible possessions that a world was recreated and transformed. The efforts of the planters in attempt to suppress the culture of the enslaved Africans because of its barbaric appearance and also in aid of controlling them to restrain rebellions were many. However, the ex-slaves counteracted these attempts simply because they possessed a vital and vibrant cultural legacy which they aspired to retain and also used to insulate themselves from the depredations of slavery. This cultural vitality also spread into and incorporated European cultural developments. The most important areas of this cultural legacy are those of art, medicine, music/dance, religion, beliefs, folktales and language. During colonialism, Africans were taught that their cultures were less evolved as Western cultures. Africans were forced to learn European languages, history and religion and disregard their own. Nevertheless, aspects of traditional African culture have managed to survive, many still enduring presently.
Many Europeans had the view that Africa's history was unimportant. They argued that Africans were inferior to them and that such people did not belong to the human race but deserved to be enslaved. This was the Europeans justification for slavery and they tried everything within their powers to ridicule the cultural affiliation of the Africans. They did it for numerous reasons, a few being to control the enslaved population, to facilitate the supreme reign of their Victorian elite culture and to add another point to their flawed debate on the rights for slavery, this was in light of regarding the culture of the Africans as pagan like and exclusive from humanity.