Blog post 1/29
Hello blog readers! We continue to write to you from Accra. We are nearing our day of departure but continue to enjoy every second of our time here in Ghana.
Today we started off eating breakfast served by the pink hostel. Along side the hostel cat, we enjoyed our meal outdoors among the company of each other.
We departed the hostel to Cape Coast in our trusty Toyota coaster.
First we started off our day at the Elimina castle. It was a white fort-like complex on elevated land overlooking the ocean. Accompanied by a guide, Alex, we visited various parts of the castle. The castle is the oldest and largest of the three castles located in West Africa. The others are Christianborg and the Cape Coast castles. It was created by Portuguese pioneers in the 14th century. These early settlers had the intentions for trade and to spread of Christianity. The discovery of the New World in the 15th century and suggestions by Friar Francisco de Las Casas, Africans became the most appropriate to work the plantations in the New World.
Demands fit African labor opened up the trans Atlantic slave trade. This event brought many changes to the use of the castle. A majority of the ground floor of the castle was turned into a dungeon that acted as a holding area for slaves until they go through the infamous “Gate of no Return” for the journey to the New World.
They also had their church on the ground floor as well. Those that survived the period of time until the ships were ready were deemed fit.
In the 16th century, the Dutch overtook the Portuguese and the castle continued to expand.
We were ushered into small dungeons. According to the guide approximately 600 male slaves and 400 female slaves occupied the spaces at a time.
The walls in the dimly lit cells were covered in age stone. A blotted green layer covered on what seemed to be a painted surface and was present in most of the holding areas. Holes in the walls were present and it was apparent that these were used to shackle the slaves in place.
We were told that the female slaves that were in those dungeons were often victims of sexual assault. Those who did not comply were often subjected to forms of punishment that were used to set an example to other slaves striking fear in their hearts on hopes of obedience.
After passing through multiple tiny entrances within a dungeon, we ultimately arrived at the gate of no return. It was here where slaves would depart the castle only to make it to a boat that would mark the beginning of their journey across the Atlantic.
The condemned cell where recalcitrant slaves were imprisoned until death laid it’s icy hands on them.
Questions that came up from this tour includes the following. What’s the relationship of the local community to the castle? We were informed that local patronage is very poor. How many students are educated on these past atrocities committee bybman against man? Are the stories told by the tourist board only told to satisfy the emotional curiosity of the foreigner or people from the African Diaspora? In any case we noted these and other silences still hindering the study of slavery in Africa.
As hunger creeped in we settled for a restaurant within the cultural center of Cape Coast. We enjoyed traditional Ghanaian dishes that were familiar thanks to earlier meals in the month including our beloved Jallof rice, fried rice, meat sauce, banku, tilapia and red fish.
We then relocated to the Cape Coast castle and briefly toured the outside before diving in the coastal city’s market.
With the ocean less than a mile away we witnessed the importance of fishing in this city. Fishing nets were found everywhere. This was quite a change in scenery being used to the structure of the markets in Tamale.
The group ended the night after a 3 hour drive back to the capital, Accra. Traffic really got us this time.
By Alex, Kosey, and Oscar