Today's story is a little different in
that it's being told by CJ, my business partner. I had too much
school work to do to go on this trip so I begged out and CJ is your
reporter on the scene.
Today the trip was a poignant reminder of how bad things can get in the
world - CJ took a trip to Cape Coast
to Elmina Castle
an early site of the slave trade. Here we go...
First, the drive - it was about 2.5 hours to go 60 miles. It
starts off okay on this four-lane highway out of Accra. Note that
it does get hilly outside of the downtown area, and some nice
middle-class and upper-class homes are up on the hillside.
It becomes two-lane...
And then you're in the mud. Here they're building a new road and
having us drive on it.
After a while we get out to Cape Coast. Here is Elmina Castle
from across the lagoon, in which you can see locals working the sea.
A bit closer, with product for sale.
Here you can really see how crowded the lagoon is, and a local with
The entrance to the castle.
An overview of the site and where it's located,
Needs no introduction:
This is the main courtyard past the entrance. In front is a
smaller building which was originally built as a chapel, and which
later turned into the auction house. Elmina started off as a site
where the Portuguese could conduct trade with the tribespeople from the
area, trading primarily gold, but other foods and spices as well.
Later, the trade turned to humans.
The way it worked is some locals would go inland and capture families
and bring them to Elmina, and hundreds of other castles that dotted
West Africa. Upon arrival the men and boys over 11 were separated
from the women and younger children. The men were also branded in
3 places. They would be kept here for three months prior to
shipment, basically to wear them down to make transport easier.
Here is where the females were kept:
This is the entrance to the dungeon, from the outer yard
This is the yard with its sunken well.
When the women misbehaved, they would be shackled to this iron ball in
the yard and left without food or water for a day, in the sun and heat,
in plain sight of the women inside the dungeon. You can see the
circular path a few feet away from the ball, on the stone. They
were kept too close to the ball to be able to reach the well, which is
just out of reach, intentionally. This would serve as a warning
to the others.
This is where the men were kept
This is two rooms next to the entrance. The right one is where
guards would be thrown if they got out of line, basically the drunk
tank. The square hole between the two rooms is ventilation for
the room on the right. The room on the left, with the skull and
crossbones above it, is where the male slaves would be thrown if they
got out of line. It's a dark hellish room with no light or
ventilation. Most did not come out alive.
In some of the rooms visitors would leave memorials. There was a
lot of crying going on.
This is the "door of no return", which would lead out to the
boats. When it was time for shipment, the families would be
reunited in this room for one last goodbye before being marched out
onto the ships. The door was originally larger, to support moving
barrels and other containers of goods, but was later shrunk to fit only
a single skinny person.
This is a 4-foot high hole that they would go through on the way to the
room. It seems similar to the technique we use to herd cattle to
Their motto is "Never Again", and we all chanted it before
leaving. This sign is on one of the doors.
This is how the beach looks from the castle.
This was ironic, that people would were supposedly God-fearing, even
putting up favorite Bible verses, could have no issue with this kind of
There used to be a moat around the castle, it's been walled off now to
keep it dry.
Here CJ is by a Dutch 16th century cannon.
One more thing - in the female dungeon there was this secret staircase
that led up to the Governor's Residence. He would have some of
the females brought out for him to choose from, then the selected ones
would be taken up here for him to have his pleasure with.
The secret trap door at the Governor's residence.
The view into the courtyard from the Governor's Residence.
Some fishermen in a sailboat.
Just outside of the castle are shantys like we have seen before.
On leaving, some of the school kids were just getting out, they're in
the yellow uniforms. Lots of them.
It's hard to see here, but there were about 6 construction workers
sleeping under this truck; you can see a blue hardhat on one.
In the middle-class neighborhoods, when they build these nicer homes,
they put up walls and security gates. In this stretch of road the
gates were lined up for sale.
A new luxury home development.
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