Although Africa's indigenous systems of slavery have been extensively described in the historical literature, comparatively little attention has been paid to analyzing its long term impact on economic and political development. Based on data collected from anthropological records we conduct an econometric analysis. We find that indigenous slavery is robustly and negatively associated with current income levels, but not with income levels immediately after independence. We explore one channel of transmission from indigenous slavery to income growth consistent with this changing effect over time and find evidence that indigenous slavery impeded the development of capable and accountable states in Africa. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.