Cape Coast Slave Castle, Ghana

November 24, 2015

My life has been blessed and fortunate regarding being able to travel and see the world. Hopefully, it provides a vehicle for others who can’t get there physically to use their minds to vision and feel the experience. Since I have a bit of down time, I am going back in time to bring some experiences forward that I have not previously shared.

This particular experience regards my initial work in West Africa. As part of a team with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, we traveled to Ghana and Liberia. The primary purpose was to explore what we could do to help Liberia recover from their civil war. Many have heard of developed and under-developed countries, at this time….Liberia was considered neither. It was considered a post-conflict country, because the civil war had not long ended.

During this time, you could not get a European or American flight straight into Liberia. So we had to fly into Accra, Ghana. From there, we took a United Nations jet from Accra into Monrovia, Liberia to accomplish our mission. It was completely existential!!

This trip was amazing for many reasons, other than me catching a nasty case of Malaria. But, upon returning to Ghana, we had the opportunity to get a personal tour of one of the Slave Castles used to feed the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – Cape Coast. I have posted these photos on different web-sites, but never on my blog.

However, I want you to keep this in mind. When I worked extensively in West Africa, often times when I got into a discussion…many West Africans would apologize for slavery…state their tribal affiliation….and then state how their tribe had nothing to do with slavery. One reason that is the case is because it is documented that African Tribal Chiefs along with European nations were complicit in the development and maintenance of the slave trade. This is not to cast blame or to take it away from anyone….it is just an observation based on historical facts – Given credence based upon my own personal experiences there.

So I make this post not to stoke flames but to promote thought…to share an experience, so that our minds can travel across the world and through history. Just like we should have respect for what took place in the concentration camps in Germany – such as Auschwitz….We could list out the historical atrocities on each continent that illustrate immense human suffering. Could be the Japanese throughout Asia, the British against the Boers, but, the list would be so long.  Now my focus is this experience. We need to see it, imagine it, feel it and understand it. It should let us know that everyone’s history has a story for all of us. This should create more compassion and kindness for each other. So these pictures are not posted to simply stoke a racial discussion on who has suffered the most. There is no monopoly on suffering. It is simply an opportunity, to see your side and the side of others…and the history that should inform us of…..

Not many words here, just the description….Observe and let your imagination flow:

Standing on top of the battery of Cape Coast Slave Castle….

Cape Coast

Looking out from the battery, you can imagine the number of ships waiting off the coast to drop off their supplies for trade and to pick up the human cargo for transport to the Caribbean and the America’s…

General holding cell for the slaves…

Human Storage Cell

The door to the female storage section of the dungeon…

Female Storage

This is the opening to the section of the dungeon where they kept the female slaves who refused to perform sexual acts for the captors…

Female Storage refused Sexual Favors

This is the opening to the male slave storage dungeon….

Door to Male Dungeon

General views inside of the dungeons.  These dungeons held at minimum of 1,000 slaves as a time during the days of trading…

Inside the Dungeon IIInside the Dungeon IIIInside the Dungeon IVInside the Dungeon VInside the Dungeon

This is the area of the castle where they kept the most rebellious and problematic slaves – chained to the wall:

Problem Slave Chained to the WallProblem Slaves Storage

Another view deep inside of the dungeons:

Storage Quarters

This is the pathway to the infamous “Door of No Return”…this was the last walk the slaves took to board the ships – never to return again….

Another Path to the Door

Peeking through one of the openings above the tunnel, this is a closer view of the path down the tunnel to the door…

Path to the Ships

A closer look….

Another Path to the Door II

This is the actual door of “No Return” – where African Slaves passed through to the ships never to return again…

The Door of No Return

Standing at the door and looking outside, this is the view of today….markedly different from the days when the Castle was active…

When Ghana gained its independence, it took over the Castle and re-stored it.  The door of ‘No Return’ was symbolically renamed the ‘Door of Return’ to provide a sign of the return of Africa’s lost children…

This experience certainly provoked many feelings; however, I keep those to myself.  My hope is that it provokes some feelings for you, and that each of us takes inventory of our thoughts and feelings to improve our relationships and views of the world….As always, hope you enjoyed and more to come…

4 Responses to “Cape Coast Slave Castle, Ghana”

  1. Glenda Henderson said

    This is a very thought provoking blog. The history of this location I imagine invoked a viseral response to many if not all that visited. I noticed in the dungeons there are clear orbs in some of the photos. Some sceptics would say they are from the flash of the camera or an imperfection. I believe that they could possibly be spirits that are not at rest.

    • Hi Glenda, thank you so much for viewing this post and providing your insights. I created this post without a lot of my feelings as I wanted to leave it open for each to interpret. Best Wishes to you and I appreciate your sharing!! 🙂

  2. Tracey said

    So many emotions I’m experiencing right now. I appreciate you refraining from injecting your feelings. It does allow a personal response free from the influence of the author – being you. I can’t help but to inject myself into my ancestors’ experience. Knowing that my imagination can’t fathom truly how horrific their experience must have been.

    Thank you for shared these pictures and descriptions. I appreciate this opportunity to connect to my ancestors.

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