Prior to 1450, the lives of most western Africans focused on hoe agriculture, supplementary herding and hunting, and mining and metallurgy. However, with the arrival of the Europeans, there was a drastic change in the flow of life. Early chiefdoms and kingdoms grew based on their control of resources, but when strangers in ships started to arrive, they had to find ways to take advantage of their opportunities to stay in power. Although the slave trade existed before this time, it was dramatically altered when the Europeans began importing slaves to the "New World". This change also led to new patterns of warfare and life. The growth of the Atlantic slave trade and the horrors of the Middle Passage devastated African populations and culture, but however immoral and disruptive of African life it appears now, the slave trade probably seemed at the time to be mutually beneficial for European buyers and African sellers; only the slaves themselves felt otherwise. However, as examined in the Counterpoint of this chapter, certain margin-dwelling peoples of Africa, such as the Pygmies of the Central African rainforests, appear to have remained largely immune to the effects of European conquest, colonization, and trade.