Despite the three-centuries-long slave trade which sent some twelve million Africans into servitude in the Americas, relations between black Africans and Europeans were carried on largely at arm’s length until the 1850s. The interior of Africa was still mainly in the hands of African peoples, whose hostility, combined with the rigors of tropical diseases, kept European penetration to a minimum. It was still a time when African princes could think themselves magnanimous in according European newcomers the title of “masters of the water”, secure in the knowledge that they retained the vastly more important title of “lords of the land”.