Thursday, October 5

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, Ghana, 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 child.

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 machinery today.

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 trade.

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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