The bulk of the preparation for my Benin-Togo-Ghana journey entered into the Benin part, and I figured that I ‘d play it by ear in Togo and Ghana. Had I done a bit more research study ahead of time, I would have recognized I ‘d desire 2 days to check out Elmina, Cape Coast, and Kakum Park. Rather, I attempted to pack all of it into one long excursion that began at 6am and ended at 9pm in Accra. There was not a minute of downtime in the travel plan, aside from a lunch that attempted to eliminate me. More on that another time.
Our very first stop of the day remained in Elmina, at St. George’s Castle, a fort and trading post for the Portuguese from the late 1400 s to mid 1600 s and for the Dutch from the mid 1600 s to the late 1800 s. Integrated in 1482, it was the very first of more than 30 historical military structures constructed along Ghana’s coast.
Both the Portuguese and the Dutch utilized the website not just as a military barracks however likewise as a holding location for servants prior to they were delivered to the Americas. The conditions and treatment were beyond barbaric.
Males and female were kept in different chambers. Dark and dank, the cells were filled with bodies and overrun with physical waste. There was no sanitation, really little food, and harsh penalty for resistance. Females were typically made to stand in the yard so that the guv might take his choice. After he mentioned the lady he desired, she was allowed to shower prior to being raped and gone back to her cell.
In a number of the cells of St. George’s and Cape Coast Castle, individuals from the African diaspora had actually left arrangements in memoriam to their unidentified forefathers and others who suffered and passed away within these unpleasant areas.
Something that the guides mentioned at both castles is that the soldiers and officers would piously collect for church in a chapel straight above where they denied their fellow people of liberty and attempted to rob them of their self-respect. A couple of weeks after my go back to Senegal from Ghana, I viewed “ Of Dads and Kids,” a dazzling and scary documentary about extreme jihadists who tenderly give their twisted view of God, their objectification of females, and their hatred of anybody not of their religious beliefs, to their impressionable and adoring children. Throughout time and area, the exact same ill thinking and harsh violence appears over and over once again. Often I seem like we are stuck in a huge video game of Whack-a-Mole. Our primal impulses for dominance, tribalism and war are never ever totally rooted out; they’re simply regularly shocked into concealing till they discover a brand-new opening to pop out of.
Listed below, the door of no return, from which servants were filled onto ships bound for the Americas.
We ended the trip on top of the fort, with views of the surrounding town.
It’s a disconcerting sensation to value the paradisiacal environments while simultaneously acknowledging that this location was hell on earth for many.
I dislike to inform you, however it does not get more positive from here. The next stop was Cape Coast Castle, which can be summarized as: exact same wicked, various wrongdoers. This time it was the Swedes who constructed the castle and the British who ultimately took control of.
As in St. George’s Castle, the servants were kept in horrendous dungeons while the soldiers and officers lived above them in relative ease.
Here, when male servants were penalized it suggested specific death. They were tossed into a little, blistering cell without any light and no access to air. The door was locked for 10 days to make sure that by the time it was opened once again, they would have passed away of either hunger or asphyxiation. There are still marks on the floorings and walls from where males scraped their chains versus them.
The “door of no return” in Cape Coast is a misnomer, since the genuine door from which the servants were filled onto ships was obviously walled off long back.
However this door does lead out to the ocean. To pass from the solemn quiet of the whitewashed fort into the bustle and color of a beach filled with fishing boats was a disconcerting however welcome tip that while I was lost in time (and anxiety and bitterness) within, Ghanaians were continuing to set about their everyday organisation exterior. It is necessary to understand your history, however it’s likewise crucial not to reside in its shadow.
It was that idea that assisted me make the relatively uncomfortable shift from somberly going to servant forts to breathlessly crossing forest canopy sidewalks. Turning up in the next and last installation of my Benin-Togo-Ghana experiences: Kakum National forest.