Today (after being bitten by an ostrich at an ostrich farm), I met some friends for a tour of the Cape Coast Castle. This fort is steeped in history. It is an eery feeling as you enter its walls are are shown the very spot where slaves were bought and sold like animals.
We toured the male and female dungeons as well. As I descended into the darkness, I imagined the pure horror this would have been for those captured all those hundreds of years ago. Each dungeon was around 200 square feet and they would cram at least 100 prisoners in there. The only latrine was a small groove running the length of the dungeon. Imagine the stench and disease! Women who were captured were often subjected to rape on top of these other atrocities.
The last stop of the tour was the “door of no return”. This was the final stop for the slaves where they would pass through and be loaded onto ships destined for North America, Europe or Jamaica. Recently, the people of Cape Coast held a ceremony in which the remains of two slaves were brought back through the “door of no return” to be given a proper burial. Since the opposite side of the door now reads “Door of Return” and the emancipation of the slaves is celebrated by an annual ceremony.
At the end of the tour I was in a somber mood and reflecting about how it is a shame that we really haven’t ended all forms of slavery yet. We have human trafficking, slave labour, and various human rights abuses that still exist. While we definitely should celebrate how far we’ve come we cannot deny humanity still has a long way to go.
Lost in my thoughts, I was approached by a Ghanaian man. He turned to me and said, “You look so sad. Fortunately, this is all in the history. We must get our picture together to symbolize the unity of blacks and whites!” He then asked for my phone number and if I was married before kissing me goodbye on the hand.
How’s that for a happy ending?